Sen­sa­tional Sarawak

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MATTA FAIR -

SARAWAK is a trea­sure trove of tourist po­ten­tial in South- East Asia. The al­lure of the Land of the Horn­bill can be nar­rowed down to three quin­tes­sen­tial in­gre­di­ents – cul­ture, ad­ven­ture and na­ture.

Sarawak has over 27 sub- eth­nic groups, all with their own dis­tinct lan­guage, art, tra­di­tions and cul­ture liv­ing in har­mony within the 48,050sq m that make Sarawak.

This cre­ates a spec­trum of tra­di­tional her­itage that can rarely be found in our mod­ern day with arts, mu­sic and crafts from each race stand­ing side by side in in­di­vid­ual uni­son, a har­mo­nious sym­phony as op­posed to a melt­ing pot.

In Sarawak to­day, there are many ef­forts to pro­tect this sym­phony, with events such as the Rain­for­est World Mu­sic Fes­ti­val as well as an­nual craft bazaars and work­shops to keep tra­di­tional arts, crafts and games alive.

One can go to the Iban long­houses, Kayan long­houses, Pe­nan huts and Me­lanau stilted houses to en­joy the unique life­styles of the dif­fer­ent eth­nic groups, or even visit the Sarawak Cul­tural Vil­lage, which boasts dif­fer­ent tra­di­tional- styled and fur­nished houses from the var­i­ous eth­nic groups in Sarawak.

Aside from art, the vast ar­ray of food with in­cred­i­ble di­ver­sity has be­come a trade­mark of Sarawak.

There are unique veg­eta­bles en­demic to Sarawak like “Midin”, sim­i­lar to fid­dle- head ferns, as well as “Dabai”, oth­er­wise known as the Sarawak Olive. They are sta­ples in Sarawak house­holds and del­i­ca­cies found nowhere else in the world.

Sarawak’s sig­na­ture dishes such as laksa, ayam pan­soh and kolok mee have put Sarawak on the map, with Malaysians from dif­fer­ent states pop­ping over for a taste and in­ter­na­tional chefs prais­ing the dishes’ sin­gu­lar­ity.

Other lesser known, but equally unique, dishes can be found through­out Sarawak such as kam­pua mee, mee sua and kom­pia – the trade­mark dishes within Sibu, which are so quin­tes­sen­tial to the city’s iden­tity that they have even painted mu­rals within the city to com­mem­o­rate them.

With food trails through­out Sarawak, it’s well within reach to go on a statewide food ben­der from city to city.

Within Sarawak, ad­ven­ture and na­ture of­ten come hand in hand. With 30 na­tional parks, four wildlife sanc­tu­ar­ies and 10 na­ture re­serves, there are count­less ac­tiv­i­ties to par­take in, where you can walk among the rich and an­cient flora and fauna without en­dan­ger­ing it.

Take, for ex­am­ple, Gu­nung Mulu Na­tional Park. Within this one park, you can find the world’s largest un­der­ground cham­ber – the Sarawak Cham­ber, the Deer Cave, which has the largest sin­gle cave pas­sage in the world and the Clear­wa­ter Cave, the eighth long­est cave sys­tem in the world.

This doesn’t in­clude spe­cial guided cave div­ing for the more ad­ven­tur­ous, as well as the three- day trek to the Pin­na­cles.

Other tours within Sarawak hold dif­fer­ent op­por­tu­ni­ties for ad­ven­ture and dis­cov­ery, such as Se­meng­goh Wildlife Cen­tre’s Orang Utan tour.

You can live a day in the life of an Iban war­rior and wit­ness the bead­work and weave- work of na­tive ar­ti­sans and wit­ness the true life­styles of the na­tive tribes within Sarawak. You can have food from ev­ery cul­ture on the same street, from the Dayak ayam pan­soh, the orang ulu’s nuba laya wrapped rice and Malay kek lapis to the Chi­nese kolok mee.

You can walk among the orang utans and pro­boscis mon­keys, watch a crocodile weave through the wa­ters, kayak through the rain­for­est, dive in the co­ral reefs, spelunk in the deep­est caves and walk un­der some of the old­est trees in the world, or over them if you pre­fer canopy walks.

There is no end to the won­ders of what Sarawak has to of­fer in terms of ex­pe­ri­ence tourism and over the years, its count in in­bound and out­bound tourism has gone up ex­po­nen­tially as aware­ness of the state’s won­ders gains world­wide ac­claim.

The Malaysia In­bound Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion ( MITA) Sarawak Chap­ter, which helps bring in in­bound tourists and busi­ness prospects for the tourism in­dus­try, as well as Malaysian As­so­ci­a­tion of Tour and Travel Agents ( MATTA) Fair, which fa­cil­i­tates out­bound tourism, are much to be thanked for the re­cent ad­vances in tourism within Sarawak.

Many Sarawak tour own­ers and busi­nesses will be par­tic­i­pat­ing part­ners in this year’s MATTA Fair, in­clud­ing Sarawak Eco­nomics De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion ( SEDC) Prop­er­ties, Merdeka Palace Ho­tel and Suites, Ariva Gate­way Kuch­ing Ser­viced Res­i­dences, Kuch­ing Hol­i­days and Car Rental, Brighton Travel and Tours, Greatown Travel and Tours, EcoGreen Hol­i­days and Grand Con­ti­nen­tal Ho­tel Kuch­ing, in the hopes of ex­pand­ing Sarawak even fur­ther to its true po­ten­tial.

For de­tails, look out for Sarawak Tourism Board’s ad­ver­tise­ment in this StarSpe­cial.

Gu­nung mulu Na­tional park is home to the sarawak Cham­ber, the Deer Cave and the Clear­wa­ter Cave.

An­nual craft bazaars and work­shops are held to keep tra­di­tional arts, crafts and games alive.

The trade­mark dishes within sibu are so quin­tes­sen­tial to the city’s iden­tity there are even painted mu­rals within the city to com­mem­o­rate the dishes.

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