What you need to know about: Hari Gawai
Celebrated every year on June 1 by the Dayak people in Sarawak, Hari Gawai – or Gawai Dayak – is a thanksgiving and harvest festival marking bountiful yields and the planning of future prospects. We spoke to the director of the Borneo Hornbill Festival and tuak brewer Agustus Sapen to learn more about Hari Gawai. Agustus Sapen Hari Gawai is officially celebrated on June 1, but the festivities continue for as long as a monthHari Gawai was officially recognised and first celebrated formally on June 1, 1965. Before that, the Dayak people would typically begin the festivities after the harvest season in April or May. Nowadays, preparation for the auspicious day begins almost a month beforehand with the older generation brewing tuak (a ritual drink part and parcel of Gawai), and general prep work usually starting a week before June 1 with the procurement of food and drinks for merrymaking (that’s literally what ‘Gawai’ means in the Iban language). It’s all about community spirit during Hari Gawai, with everyone lending a hand in the preparation; this still rings true in most longhouses and small villages today. ‘On Gawai eve, the Iban community conducts blessings and thanksgiving ceremonies called miring, with offerings to the departed ancestors, deities and spirits,’ says Agustus. The ceremony also invites spiritual entities to celebrate with the longhouse community, and then continuing with open houses with friends and families from afar. The merrymaking may carry on for we
An insider's guide to Sarawak
Strap on your trekking boots and get ready to answer the call of the jungle! Located on the island of Borneo, Sarawak is still shrouded in mystery with an interior that’s still relatively untouched and a lush 130-million-year-old rainforest teeming with wildlife. Journey deep into the heart of Borneo and experience the unique culture and the warmth of its people. Made up of over 40 sub-ethnic groups, planning a stay in a longhouse (communal house) offers a rare insight into how indigenous communities live in this beautiful part of Malaysia. The longhouse A dwelling place of the Dayaks (a generic term for the main tribes of Borneo) in Sarawak, the longhouse – as its name suggests – is a long wooden structure that’s built above ground on stilts. Featuring a tanju (long veranda), a typical longhouse can easily house more than 20 families living in separate bilek or private rooms. No two longhouses are alike as they vary in size and design according to the tribes. However, most will provide basic accommodation that may include running water, simple mattresses, mosquito nets and electricity supplied by a generator – basics that will suffice a comfortable stay. While the facilities may be slightly lacking, the warm hospitality more than makes up for it! From Kuching to the interior A four-hour drive from the state’s capital of Kuching lies Batang Ai, a remote area that is part of a large national park covering 24,040 hectares and is a biodiversity haven that houses i
What’s on this week in KL
Music From Anime
This is one for the otaku: the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra together with MPO resident conductor Naohisa Furusawa and the Japanese School of Kuala Lumpur Children’s Chorus bring you this this concert featuring tunes from popular Japanese animations. Expect to hear the works of Joe Hisaishi – think ‘Gake No Ue No Ponyo’, ‘My Neighbour Totoro: Orchestra Stories 2002’, ‘Kimi Wo Nosete’ and more.
Crackhouse presents Dana Alexander
Regarded as one of the funniest comedians in her native Canada, Dana Alexander’s sets draw inspiration from her everyday life, growing up in a Jamaican family, as well as from her gay friends and her hectic lifestyle. This is no comedy show for the underaged, as Dana talks about everything from sex to family matters.
Singapore-based photographer George Wong and Singaporean painter Yeo Tze Yang's 'Cheap Spirits' exhibition celebrates the mundane by revealing the crude and sublime moments of daily life, prompting us to question the nature behind the subjects' momentary state of ecstasy, as well as examining everyday scenes such as a dirt-stained kaki lima and a man on the bus looking into the distance.
New restaurants and bars in KL
‘Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Imbi anymore.’ You’ll echo that sentiment upon stepping into the sleek Wizards at Tribeca with its well-designed light-filled space accented with marble counters and jet black fittings, and bustling with prim waitstaff dishing out fancier-than-usual brunch food – a far cry from down-to-earth kopitiam-filled Imbi.
Bangsar has gone through many phases – unobtrusive residential area, clubbing haven, arts and culture quarter, and now, café district. From the busy streets of Telawi to the more laidback Jalan Bangkung and Jalan Kemuja, we round up the best restaurants, bars, cafés and things to do in Bangsar.
Populated by expatriates and upper middle class families, Hartamas is fancy – even its name says so (‘harta’, treasure; ‘mas’, gold). This isn’t saying that the area is inaccessible for us 'mere mortals' – in fact, it’s quite the opposite now. With many cafés and eateries opening up around the 'hood, plenty of non-Hartamas residents flock here, and not just for the lineup of Japanese restaurants. By the way, we're also including the best places to eat and visit in neighbouring areas Mont Kiara and Solaris Dutamas. Fun fact: The area was the premise of a local TV show titled (surprise, surprise) ‘Hartamas’ starring Ida Nerina and Rashidi Ishak.
The wide land that is Damansara has the privilege of being both KL and Selangor. It can be confusing – Bukit Damansara for example, is not exactly near the main Damansaras while Ara Damansara is somewhat Subang (and sometimes even Shah Alam). To make things easier for you, we've picked some of the best restaurants, cafés, bars and things to do in each Damansara area.
Damansara Utama is home to Damansara Uptown, the land of hard-to-find parking spots and more cafés than you can shake a stick at. We say park in the new Starling Mall and walk about the area before you eventually step in to an eatery. Here are our picks of restaurants, cafés, shops and things to do in the area. PS: If your favourite spot isn't featured here, let us know in the comments.
Let’s not mask the fact that Sunway is an area dominated by students, which isn’t saying that it’s a bad thing. If you need help getting around the area, the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is making things better. It’s fast – not a concept Malaysians are accustomed to hearing and practising. Let’s not also forget about Sunway Pyramid and Sunway Lagoon, where there are plenty of things to do. If you don’t have plans in Sunway, you do now.
The best of Kuala Lumpur
100 best local dishes and drinks in KL
We are a food city. One that caters to the food-obsessed; one that alternates between street and traditional dining, at any budget and time of the day. Here are the 100 best dishes and drinks that truly defines us, from the contentious nasi leamk to the humble roti canai. Loosen your belt – you've got much eating to do.
Best nasi lemak in KL
We pick the best places in town for a satisfying plate of the country's pride and joy – the mighty nasi lemak. Hunt down these nasi lemak joints for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even supper, because our national dish doesn't restrict itself to a certain meal time – which is why we love it so much.