Rainforest World Music Festival, Sarawak Cultural Village, Santubong


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The Rainforest World Music Festival at the Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong just over a week ago was an eye-opener for me. I have heard about it (who hasn’t!), I have seen pictures (as you will seeing them now) but the experience is only deemed complete if you have witnessed it live.

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The energy, the crowd and the experience of watching the performances of tribal music in their natural setting; against the spectacular beauty of Mount Santubong, surrounded by the sounds of the jungle is what makes the Rainforest World Music Festival an internationally acclaimed and recognised event year after year, with 2012 being its 15th year in making.

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I would have never made it here if not for Heineken Malaysia. Too much work, too many trips and too many backlogs for my blog is getting distressing. But one doesn’t say no to Heineken! 🙂

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Admittedly I wasn’t much of a drinker (hey it’s true!) and the Rainforest World Music Festival experience was what I was really after. And of course the fabulous cuisine of Kuching. :DD

Kolo Mee!

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But I digress. Now, back to the Sarawak Cultural Village and the Rainforest World Music Festival.

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This isn’t my first time here at the Sarawak Cultural Village thus flashbacks was imminent as I walked around. Memories of my previous stay here with the Sarawak Tourism Board and Firefly Airlines came rushing back to me andI can’t believe it’s been 2 years already since then!

This time round I’m hosted in One Santubong Hotel (thank god!) and though it wasn’t as luxurious as my usual media trips, it was functional, HUGE, comfortable and clean. All in all, I don’t have any complains other than the food. But heck, it was a good reason to lose some weight, though only to put it all back on during my Kuching food hunt on the last day. 😛

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The 3 main days for Rainforest World Music Festival this year was 13th Jul  (FRI) to 15th Jul (Sun). If you are heading to the RWMF next year, do remember to book your flights and accommodation well in advance, and by well in advance I mean at least 3-4 months ahead!

The RWMF is one of South East Asia’s leading festival experiences. Over a decade and a half the Festival has developed an audience that is as eclectic and international as its musical line up.  A huge number of creative music artists from across the globe comes together in ONE place for 3 days every year and thousands of locals and foreigners descend on Santubong Sarawak, jamming the airport and packing the streets.

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But most of all, everyone hanged around the Sarawak Cultural Village itself, for during the day, there were the most interesting workshops going on and once the sun sets, the stage goes alive with the mix of of tribal, traditional bands with elements of funk, hip hop and pretty much any other beat based music you could care to mention.

Workshops during the day: 2pm to about 5pm.

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Below: A happy RWMF-er banging away rather enthusiastically on a drum. Must have been a childhood dream of his to be a drummer! :DD

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These workshops are VERY popular as illustrated by the picture below:

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The performances starts nightly at 7.30pm.

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The list of acts includes (but not all stated here of course) Czech Republic’s unforgettable Cankisou, Mamadou Diabaté’s Percussion Mania from Burkina Faso, international festival favourite Kanda Bongo Man, La Zikabilo (FRANCE)  and, of course, homegrown talent in the shape of Sarawakian Zee Avi in addition to Malaysia’s very own  Diplomats of Drum, one of the region’s leading percussion collectives.

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Amazing isn’t it? Each performance lasts about an hour and the list of acts are as diversified as the species of trees in the Santubong jungle. Erm, ok, I don’t really how many species are there in the jungle but you get the drift! 🙂
If you are laid back, out to have fun and open-minded, the RWMF is one of the best venue to meet new people who are just absolutely crazy and lively! 😀

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And yes, I’m one of those funky cool people!! :DD

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My new found friend Mizzy Arr joined me to get one on her boob chest!

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Another advice here; Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong is about 40 minutes from Kuching town. And there’s not much options around Sarawak Cultural Village in terms of food or entertainment. Entertainment is pretty much provided by the Rainforest World Music Festival but when it comes to food, we all have to thank the organisers for the foresight of having food stalls within Sarawak Cultural Village.

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There’s even the traditional bamboo chicken ala Sarawak Ayam Pansuh.

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There was even Snowflake-like desserts!

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This is a huge bowl!  😀

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No Starbucks, but the ice blended drinks were close enough.

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Other recreational activities include getting yourself inked and your head shaved. Whatever that tickles your fancy really. 🙂

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Foot massage? 🙂

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Me? I was working! Yes, in the jungle.  Nothing more inspirational than being so close to nature right? 🙂

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Oh wait, did I hear you ask “BEER”??

Yes, there’s plenty of beer to go around! For the 15th year and ever since it’s inception, Heineken is the sole beer partner for the Rainforest Workd Music Festival!

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Once again the picturesque lake pavilion of the Cultural Village was dominated by the exclusive Heinekabana, created for the comfort of Heineken members, invited guests and members of the media. Its laidback Sarawakian vibes made it the perfect place to freshen up with an ice-cold Heineken beer, shelter from the sun and the very occasional rain.

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There were certainly plenty of other opportunities to enjoy an ice cold Heineken Beer at this year’s festival with rainforest themed bars conveniently placed near all the major stage and performance areas, as well as in the main F&B and chill out zones across the festival site.

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Like my hat?

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This year, Heineken collaborated with Borneo Ink & Salty Custom in designing RWMF limited edition T shirt. Boasting tribal tattoo design, it was a big festival hit. Other funkily designed collectibles includes straw hats and eco-friendly tote bags.

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On the last night, we had our very own RWMF in the hotel!

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Some of the performers bought the party back with them. The dancing and partying continued till the wee hours of the morning. Like I said, these people who came for the Rainforest World Music Festival really know how to enjoy themselves! 😀

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All in all, it was an experience to be savoured at least once in a lifetime. Should you decide to head over next day for the RWMF, do take heed of some pointers here. Plan ahead, book your accommodation early, stay as near as possible to Sarawak Cultural Village as the jam (both human and automobile) can be massive and a pain.

And just as an indication of the prices; this year it was RM110 per day or RM300 for all 3 days (Tickets info HERE: http://rwmf.net/tickets/. Your pass basically allows you entry into the RWMF site which is the Sarawak Cultural Village and you are eligible to attend all the workshops during the afternoon as well as the night stage performances.

So see you next year? 🙂

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To be part of Heineken’s exciting calendar of events, log on to www.facebook.com/heineken or www.heineken.com/my for more information.

**Video will be uploaded once it’s done. *fingers crossed*

This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. Lindy

    Great review! Lots and lots of beautifully taken pictures! RWMF was amazing huh? Love it! 🙂

    1. rebeccasaw

      Hi Lindy!
      Thank you for your kind comments!
      So you went as well? I’m sure u had fun judging from your comment 🙂

  2. isaac976

    This one’s more happening than Marini57 ! haha.. this post on the festival

    1. rebeccasaw

      Haha this is different la..it’s R &B, modern at Marini’s but this is tribal music la!

  3. June Tan

    Hey, this is awesome, very happening though. =)

    1. rebeccasaw

      I think it’s the most happening event of the year for Sarawak. Hahah

  4. Yee Ling

    Awesome..I love ur tattoo and hat too!

  5. Sean

    wow, even though i’m not a fan of concerts, this does look quite magical and exciting. i’m not sure i can appreciate the music, but i think i’d like the vibe! 😀

    1. rebeccasaw

      You will surprised! I’m not a fan of this type of music either, but these music got good beat!

  6. ciki

    Looks like a really worthwhile party to attend!

    btw, our website is now no longer cumidanciki but http://ccfoodtravel.com/ . Please kindly update your blogroll, thanks soooo much! 😀 xox,mei

  7. silver price

    The atmosphere is very relaxed. Although there are timetables for the workshops and evening performances, visitors are free to enter and leave any event at will. The daytime workshops are held inside various traditional houses in the village, where the performers and leaders of the events are often on the same floor-level as the audience, allowing them to get up close to the performers. There are also no restrictions in communicating with the performers, and the musicians themselves sometimes encourage conversation, especially if it is regarding the topic of the workshop they are running or about the traditional instruments they use. Artists are also not hidden behind barriers at the festival and can seen walking through the site throughout the duration, allowing the audience axis to them at any time.

    1. rebeccasaw

      Yups! You said it all for me 🙂
      Thanks for the comment, I guess you did enjoy yourself. I concur with you on your thoughts, it’s like a holiday in the jungle with good music 🙂

  8. Fantastic writeup and great pics! That drummer from HATA was off the hook with his performance.

    1. rebeccasaw

      Hehe, yes, I love that shot too 😀
      Thanks for the kind words, it was my first time and I had quite an experience.

  9. Nazreen

    Hi there Rebecca!
    This is a very well written and comprehensive post on Rainfest 2012. I’m glad that you enjoyed yourself. Let me skip to it: I represent an up-and-coming Kuching-based travel agency. Can I contact you by email to explain further?

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