By Dona Drury Wee
With so much to see and do—from beautiful beaches, to rainforest wildlife, to caving and spelunking—there’s never a bad time to visit Sarawak. However, this July is an especially good time to visit, as Sarawak will host three festivals in July, starting with the Rainforest Fringe Festival (RFF) from July 5 to 12. Just as the Fringe Festival winds down, the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) begins, running from July 12 to 14, and the Borneo Jazz Festival closes out the month, running from July 19 to 21.
Those interested in exploring Sarawak’s diverse culture will enjoy the programming on offer at the RFF in Kuching, which includes music, art, crafts, film, photography and food. Highlights of this year’s RFF are the International Indigenous Film Festival, the Rainforests of the World photography exhibition by world renowned nature photographer Ch’ien Lee, and Ink Kuching’s five-day showcase, Body Art. Also, be sure not to miss the RFF’s many other events, such as book launches, a dinner club and a series of art workshops for adults and children. The Sarawak Culinary Heritage and Arts committee will also feature themed movies and matching local food in the Movie Nights & Local Delights series at an open theatre by the Sarawak River.
Running for its 21st year, the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) is an annual three-day music festival in Santubong. The RWMF is a family-friendly event with three afternoons of interactive and educational workshops and impromptu jamming sessions, followed by evening performances on the main stage. Regular visitors to the RWMF know that an average of 20,000 people make it through the festival gates, so be sure to book your flights, festival tickets and hotels early!
With a backdrop of the legendary Mount Santubong and fronted by the beach across the road, the setting makes for mesmerizing and magical musical moments as you sit nestled in the jungles of Borneo. Listen to At Adau as they bring ancient Sarawak melodies and rhythms from various tribes to the contemporary stage. Watch the exciting dances of Rapa Nui dedicated to the gods, nature and their warriors performed by the Ballet Folclórico de Chile, Bafochi. From Spain to Ireland to Bhutan and back again, the RWMF celebrates the best aspects of world music, all on one stage.
The five-day break before the Borneo Jazz Festival kicks off in Miri (just an hour’s flight away from Kuching) is the perfect opportunity to explore Sarawak. You could see the orangutans in Kuching at the rehabilitation center at Semenggoh, or kayak leisurely down the Sarawak River. Bako National Park is worth a visit, with its striking sandstone coastline and the dramatic steep cliffs and rocky headlands at the Telok Assam Beach. Bako is also home to the proboscis monkeys, which are endemic to Borneo. Other animals that you may chance upon here are the silver leaf monkeys and the long tailed macaque, the Borneon bearded pig, monitor lizards and playful otters.
In the hinterlands of Miri you could take a day trip to visit the Niah National Park, the site of the Niah Caves and archeological site, where ancient burial grounds and cave paintings can be seen. A short flight away takes you to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mulu National Park, where you can watch millions of bats fly out of the Deer Cave each evening to forage for food. Discover a hidden valley and waterfall enclosed by limestone cliffs on the park’s Garden of Eden trails. And be sure not to miss the tall, jagged limestone formations called “the pinnacles,” cutting through the foliage canopy atop Gunung Api.
The festival fun resumes on July 19 with the Borneo Jazz Festival 2019, which will feature international and local artists, highlighting 15 bands, as well as a special ‘Jazz & Comedy” feature over three days. Get in the groove on Borneo with the Alberto Marsico Trio from Italy, Alina Ramirez from Mexico and Christy Smith from USA, to name a few, as well as local sensations Dasha Logan, Pete Kallang and Arabyrd.
Such revelry, culture and adventure could never be found all together at any other destination. There is just so much more to discover when you visit Sarawak. #MoreSarawak
For the updated lineups and ticketing information, visit: