Rainforest World Music Festival

Tai-Chi, Yoga, Fitness & Culture - Highlights of Rainforest World Music Festival 2017

Sarawak’s headliner tourism attraction – the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) – will include Tai-Chi, yoga, and other health and fitness activities. Music tourism. Cultural Tourism.

How Sarawak Reforestation Gets a Boost From Musicians

Mallika Naguran represented Gaia Discovery in joining Rainforest World Music Festival musicians at planting new mangroves at the ecologically-sensitive Kuching Wetland National Park that has a sad history.

Culture, Nature, Social Enterprise at Rainforest World Music Festival 2016

From recycling to upcycling, Rainforest World Music Festival 2016 showed its commitment to lower environmental impacts while staging higher musical and social impacts on fans. Mallika Naguran hangs out at the event to bask in the festivity and deliver this report.

Highlights of Rainforest World Music Festival 2016

From kiddy workshops, traditional crafts, spontaneous music workshops to energetic stage performances by international artistes - here are a few highlights of the one and only Rainforest World Music Festival 2016. By Mallika Naguran

Singapore 7 July 2016. The Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) brings together renowned world music artistes from around the world including indigenous musicians from the heart of Borneo. The all-day-long festival for all ages takes place this year from Friday 5 August to Sunday 7 August 2016 at the Sarawak Cultural Village, Santubong. Kuching, Sarawak.

The acclaimed Cimarron from Colombia will get you dancing with its rippling "joropo"!

The acclaimed Cimarron from Colombia will get you dancing with its rippling "joropo"!

This year’s acts include bands such as Shanren from China, Auli from Latvia, Torgeir Vassvik from Norway, Chouk Bwa Libete from Haiti, Cimarron from Colombia, Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band from Ghana and many more.

A must watch gig would be Violons Barbares, which brings together a rare mix of traditions from Mongolia, Bulgaria and France. Look out for Dandarvaaching Enkhjargal on the morin khoor and jaw dropping overtone singing!

RWMF is most loved for its fun formula of interactive workshops, ethno-musical jamming sessions and mini concerts in the afternoon… prior to the actual show itself at night. To loyal fans of RWMF, the afternoon sessions are most entertaining, often making it the highlight of the festival itself.

Local and international food and drink can be purchased at the festival grounds. There will also be an arts and crafts area - get a temporary tattoo there! Buy festival memorabilia, Sarawak souvenirs and CDs by the performing artists. 

Rare chance to hear rare voices and blends of traditions at RWMF, especially with Violons Barbares.

Rare chance to hear rare voices and blends of traditions at RWMF, especially with Violons Barbares.

So yes, we are talking about festivity and feasts at the Sarawak Cultural Village from afternoon to past midnight. So bring lots of cash - Malaysian ringgit of course, although credit/debit cards may be accepted by certain merchants.

Something for Mom & Dad… and the Kids

There will also be fringe events to highlight Sarawak culture namely the Rainforest World Craft Bazaar and the Food and Village Mart, where one can purchase the local arts, crafts and cuisine of Borneo, as well as the Borneo Tattoo Expo at Damai Central, where one can see the traditional tribal tattoos of the indigenous tribes of Sarawak.

Look out for Pustaka Bookaroo, an event which combines music, stories and crafts from around the world for children aged between seven and 12.

RWMF Gets Bigger on Local Sounds

This year at the RWMF, eight Malaysian groups will share the stage with 26 international artistes.

Alena Murang sings as she plays the sape bringing the oral tradition of the Kenyah and Kelabit people from Ulu Baram alive.

Alena Murang sings as she plays the sape bringing the oral tradition of the Kenyah and Kelabit people from Ulu Baram alive.

Five artistes and groups from Sarawak will be featured, including sape maestros Alena Murang and Mathew Ngau Jau, Gendang Melayu Sri Buana, Thunder Beats of Nanyang Wushu Drums, as well as a performers from the Sarawak Cultural Village.

Two bands from Peninsular Malaysia, 1Drum.org and the Unique Arts Academy and the Band Girls of Sabah State Cultural Board will also take the stage.

“We are proud to provide a stage for our own talented performers to shine, showing that we too have leaders and groundbreakers in World Music as a genre.” says Angelina Patricia Bateman, Director of Corporate Communications, Sarawak Tourism Board and Project Director of the festival.

Local and international treats await you at this year's most unique Rainforest World Music Festival. Don't delay anymore - plan your trip today.

Visit the Official Website for more information: http://www.rwmf.net/

Visit RWMF Facebook

How to get your tickest for RWMF?

Practical tips for festival goers at RWMF

Threatened dialects revived at RWMF

Nature Tribute at Rainforest World Music Festival 2015

Nature lovers can look forward to songs being sung and music being played that are dedicated to elements of nature. How apt, since the setting is by the rainforest of Santubong in Sarawak.

Rainforest World Music Festival 2015 Brings Memories

The 18th edition of the festival on the weekend of 7th to 9th of August 2015 will be set among lush forest greenery, crowned by the lofty Mount Santubong.

Sarawak Asia Music Festival 2013

Asia Music Festival will feature musicians from India, Korea, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Brunei and Malaysia that will perform over the 2-day festival

MIRI, Thursday – Asia Music Festival, another celebration of music is set to take centre stage in Miri, Sarawak this coming October with almost full line-up for the said event already confirmed.

The whole host of electrifying eclectic mix of live music will spread over two days.

The event will run from 4-5 October at Eastwood Valley Golf & Country Club, 5km from Miri city centre.

Dato Rashid Khan - CEO Sarawak Tourism Board

The event is set to become another iconic music festival for Sarawak after the success of Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) held in Kuching city and Borneo Jazz held in Miri. Sarawak Tourism Board will bring together several key musicians from India, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Korea, Brunei as well as Malaysia to this inaugural event.

“This is another event the Board has created to attract visitors to the resort city of Miri. With this we hope that visitors from our neighbouring countries, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and our fellow Malaysians will come for 2 days of fun and music.” said Dato’ Rashid Khan, CEO, Sarawak Tourism Board.

The Board looks forward to introduce this new event with its objective of attracting the Asian expatriate community working in neighbouring country like Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and the region to come and celebrate the music while visiting the destination. The atmosphere is planned to be that of a carnival as apart from the night shows, there will also be a fun event starting in the afternoon with lots of food, fun and games.

The Board is also proud to continue its successful internship and volunteer program, which was initiated in past events like the Rainforest World Music Festival. Through this program, the Board will provide a unique learning experience for the volunteers and interns whilst at the same time being exposed to the product experiences of Sarawak’s culture, nature and adventure.

STB will also continue to collaborate with Universities and Colleges as part of an industry advisory platform and to undertake this initiative as part of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program.

Asia Music Festival promises an extraordinary weekend of fun, music and more, within the greeneries and fresh air of the countryside at the brand new musical venue, Eastwood Valley Golf & Country Club. “This is an inspiring opportunity for everyone to come together and experience the adventure of yet another music festival” reiterated Dato’ Rashid Khan.

Mixture of live music will be featured throughout two days event and will include a mix-genre of music from national, regional and local talent. The initial line-up of performers initiated by Sarawak Tourism Board includes Antoney Dassan Yen Party (India), The Foxy Girls (Indonesia), Bembol Rockers (Philippines), V.Star Band (Korea), Boy Thai Band (Thailand), Soesah Tidoer (Indonesia), Fakhrul Razi (Brunei) and several Malaysian bands.

Based on the success of the Rainforest World Music Festival and the Borneo Jazz, Sarawak Tourism Board is confident that the inaugural Asia Music Festival will thrill the crowds when it makes its debut next month.

Entry tickets are priced at RM30 for adults and RM15 for children/students aged 3-18 (ID required during entry).

Tickets available from all STB’s office and Visitors Information Centre located at Old Court House, Kuching (+6 082-423600), Jalan Melayu, Miri (+6 085-434180) and Jalan Tukang Besi, Sibu (+6 084-340980) from Monday September 9th.

For enquiries, contact Sarawak Tourism Board at leisure@sarawaktourism.com or +6 082-239171  or log on to www.asiamusicfestival.net and www.facebook.com/SarawakTravel for more updates.

Beto Jamaica Rey Vallenato in Rainforest World Music Festival

Sarawak’s top musical event, the Rainforest World Music Festival 2013, featured Colombian folklore music performed by accordianist Alberto (Beto) Jamaica and Vallenato ensemble. An exclusive by Mallika Naguran.

Review of Rainforest World Music Festival 2013

Mallika Naguran checks in to Sarawak to check out the region's popular world music festival.

Kuching, 1 July 2013. The 16th edition of the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) in Santubong, Sarawak was a highlight in Asia's world music calendar. As before, the organisers Sarawak Tourism Board and artistic director Yeoh Jun Lin brought in mega international acts to perform alongside lesser known ones – striking varied rhythms to unleash vibrations of energy – from meditational low to fever pitch high. Festival-goers of nearly 20,000 over three days lapped it all up, 80 percent of which were mostly from West Malaysia and beyond, according to Angeline Bateman, communications director of Sarawak Tourism Board.

Sarawak native chanting for blessing

Dizu Plaatjies & The Ibuyambo Ensemble

Australian native gig Nunukul Yug

This year, RWMF 2013 showcased great acts from the corners of the world. Literally! Australian aboriginals Nunukul Yug; Ukrainian Spiritual Seasons; Habadekuk from Denmark; Kila from Ireland; Dizu Plaatjies & The Ibuyambo Ensemble; Kries from Croatia; Alp Bora from Turkey; Pine Leaf Boys from Lousiana; Chet Nuneta from France; Mohsen Sharifian & The Lian Band from Iran; Rey Vallenato Beto Jamaica from Colombia; and Palsandae from Korea.

Nunukul Yug

On the home front were heritage showcases of culture set to music. The audience loved the local Borneo and Southeast Asian acts for their authenticity. From Sarawak, we had Maya Green, Gema SLDN-SCV, Lan E Tuyang (led by Matthew Ngau Jau) and Madeeh (featuring Arthur Borman “Bai Kas” Kanying). Malaysian Rhythm in Bronze gave uplifting gamelan and gong sounds, a pleasure to watch and listen to. Rafly Wa Saja crunched the spiritual nuances of Acehnese folk with groovy vocals using scat technique improvisation.

Australian aboriginals Nunukul Yuggera commanded attention with their narrative styled acts relating stories close to the heart of the people. There were adulations of dolphins for their role in saving mankind. There were calls made to the spirits for the protection of earth. There was a live demonstration of the art of making fire from sticks and hay. Yes, the way things used to be back in the good old days before the invasion of electric stoves and microwave ovens!

High-energy performances by Kila and Habadekuk stole the limelight, got audiences raving and dancing on their feet, while Colombians sent Latino-styled currents to the crowd but with authentic Cumbia and Vallenato performances. Alberto “Beto” Jamaica had a few years ago gotten a name for being the best accordionist in Bogota for Vallenato style music, pitting against 100 others to clinch the first position. Indeed, the Latino Vallenato folk compositions were among the highlights of the evening.


While smoothly run most of the time, the festival programming seemed halting with Sarawakian performances coming on in between with bigger sounding acts. The music revelers that had their hands high and feet thumping before suddenly stood still to soak in meditational sequences and chants. From the programming perspective, this might have been deliberate, to try to inject some variety, alternating the pace for some relief. For some, it was time to visit the loo and grab the beer, passing over the rather pricey wine at RM18 for a puny glass. 

Korean Palsandae

Kries from Croatia was beautifully dark, haunting and gothic, but not quite the right band to slot in as the night’s anchor. Prior to it was Dizu Plaatjies & The Ibuyambo Ensemble - the pride of South Africans.  Once again, as in most world music gigs, the Africans delivered!  There were every minute mesmerizing, culturally engaging, danceable and melodioius with amazing vocal harmonies. The call to remember ailing Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black President and all that he brought to South Africa was touching. After all what is world music if there aren’t any activist rejoinders? 

But there’s only so much that one can write about music. To appreciate these musicians, you’ll have to buy their CDs and listen to their tracks. Hook up with their vids online, or watch this space for Gaia Discovery video posts. Better still, be there in Sarawak next year to enjoy some wonderful world music, actually among the best in this region, and that can only happen at the Rainforest!

Photography by Mallika Naguran and Sarawak Tourism Board.

Read Gaia Discovery's article on Chet Nuneta's reasons for singing in disappearing languages.

Rainforest World Music Festival: Chet Nuneta Saves Dying Dialects

Chet Nuneta from France dares conventions, braves norms and crosses international borders in oral music, delivering powerful vocal polyphonies backed by polyrhythms in many languages of the world. Their style is inimitable as it is definition defying. Their mission is not just to make unforgettable show stopping music but also to relive endangered dialects, forgotten sounds in distinct melodies sung simultaneously. Mallika Naguran gets to the heart of the matter with an exclusive chat with Chet Nuneta at the 16th edition of the Rainforest World Music Festival in Santubong, Sarawak.

Rainforest World Music Festival 2012

The Rainforest World Music Festival (13 - 15 July)-- under the imposing shadow of Mount Santubong and in the midst of a virgin rainforest at the edge of the South China Sea -- brings together renowned world performers and indigenous musicians from the interiors of Borneo. The festival features intimate afternoon workshops that allow festival goers to interact with musicians and five hour evening concerts that carry on past midnight. Sixteen bands from nineteen Countries will take to the stage, including Kanda Bongo Man and Zee Avi.

14th Rainforest World Music Festival a Wonder

From 'pathos in purity' to 'high-wire energy', Borneo's famed world music festival is all of this and more, describes Mallika Naguran.

Rainforest World Music Festival 2011 Showcases Record 22 Performing Acts

Once again the magic of Sarawak's iconic Rainforest World Music Festival has begun. World Music lovers from around the world can look forward to an incredible line-up of world class acts among the 22 bands - the highest in its 14 years of existence. Presented by Sarawak Tourism Board, the RWMF has a reputation for rocking the worlds of concert-goers, folk instrument aficionados and plain fun seekers over three days.

Dance Workshops, Ancient Traditions and More to Feature in Rainforest World Music Festival 2010

With three weeks to go to the 2010 Rainforest World Music Festival, Mallika Naguran finds out what festival director Randy Raine-Reusch has in store for die-hard RWMF fans that travel all the way to the heart of Borneo each year in July from around the world.

Gardon, Jouhikko, Nyckelharpa, Sape, Bamboo Pipes: World Music Celebration

Rainforest music festival highlights the sounds of cello-beating, hurdy gurdies and mouth organs.

By Michael Switow

SARAWAK, Malaysia — Nestled at the base of Mount Santubong, in a land made famous by the head-hunters, who only decades ago still fought here for honor, a Kenyah elder holds a dagger in his right hand and a hand-carved wooden shield in his left. He moves quickly, genuinely shocking his foe, a bare-chested Maori warrior, who moments earlier was intensely focused on the crowd in front of him.

Bats fly overhead.

Matthew Ngau is an artist and sculptor who rarely leaves his forested Borneo home and Te Hira Paenga is in training to become an Anglican minister, when he's not performing the Hakka and other traditional arts.

Only on the stage of the Rainforest World Music Festival is it likely that these two men would cross weapons. Cross-cultural surprises and jam sessions define this three-day festival, created 12 years ago to introduce Sarawakian musicians to the world and world musicians to Malaysia.

The festival also likely presents the world's best showcase of indigenous instruments.

“I'm looking to excite, amaze, enjoy, have a good time and also educate a little bit,” says artistic director and festival co-founder Randy Raine-Reusch. “This is a voyage of discovery for the audience. I want concert-goers to say `WOW, I've never seen that before!'”

The festival features an eclectic mix of bands including American country & bluegrass, East African drumming, Indonesian gamelan, Portuguese hard rock and Korean shamanistic tunes rarely heard outside traditional ceremonies. But every group has one common trait: each integrates indigenous instruments into its music. Some instruments have exotic names like the sumpoton, a free-reed mouth organ made with a calabash and bamboo pipes by villagers in northeast Borneo, or the hurdy gurdy, a European fiddle popular during the Renaissance which is played not with a bow but by cranking an attached wheel. Others like the Swedish nyckelharpa — an elongated fiddle with sixteen strings and an overlay of wooden pegs to control the pitch — are even more bizarre in appearance.

“These instruments are disappearing and I want that culture to survive,” explains Raine-Reusch, who plays hundreds of instruments as well. “I want to hear what that culture sounded like on the real thing. I'm not interested in hearing Balkan music on an electric guitar. I want to hear authenticity, even if it is in fusion music.”

Raine-Reusche estimates there are more than 5,000 instruments in the world — and that's if you don't count all the bells and rattles. Throw those into the mix and the count tops 10,000. At this year's Rainforest festival, 17 bands performed, yet only six used a guitar, well, seven if you count the one made from bamboo by Kinabalu Merdu Sound. Even fewer had a drum set.

Instead of drums, the Hungarian group Muszikas uses a gardon, an instrument that at first glance appears more suited to a string ensemble. The gardon player sets the tempo by hitting the instrument's strings with a stick. This “cello-beating” technique must have been tiring for traditional Hungarian musicians who earned their living by playing up to 40 hours non-stop at wedding parties.

This is not a festival of purists. Don't be fooled by the instruments. More than 20,000 music-lovers flock to the Sarawak Cultural Village each year for the Rainforest World Music Festival. Teenagers (and the not-so-young) dance for hours, but instead of partying to guitars, bass and drums, the mainstay of most pop bands, they jam to the sounds of the sapé, llimba and jouhikko.

(The sapé is a four-stringed instrument from Borneo whose lyrical melodies belie its cricket bat shape. llimba is an African thumb-piano, traditionally played by herders to mark their distance travelled. Jouhikko is a Finnish word, pronounced “yo-hee-ko”, for horsehair and Europe's oldest bowed instrument. )

“The tunes we are playing were really very cool two to three hundred years ago,” says jouhikko player Pekko Kappi. “We're still kind of shaking a little bit from how much fun we had,” says American musician Jeff Burke of the Jeff & Vida Band. “First of all, it's kind of packed here tonight, so there's a sea of people, in the middle of one of the most pristine areas that we've ever played a concert in. And the crowd here responds to what we do and music in general totally different than an American crowd would.”

Fans weaved a conga line through the crowd and sang along with every chorus, even though the tunes sung by Vida Wakeman in a raspy southern voice were original compositions they had never heard before.

“In the States, there's an etiquette, especially in bluegrass music” Burke explains. “ You sit quietly and listen and even if you love it and it's the best thing you've ever heard, you'll be quiet and when the song is over, you'll clap real loud and then stop really quickly so that the next song can happen, which always seemed nice until now, because it seems much more fun to have a crowd like this who kind of really throws themselves into the experience.”

Editors note: Visit our video section and picture gallery for more pictures and music from the event

World Music Themes at Rainforest World Music Festival 2009

By Mallika Naguran

10 July 2009, Kuching.The sounds of World Music are intriguing backed by quaint strains of faraway bands playing with strange-looking musical instruments. What is more fascinating is the meaning behind the songs. We explore more into some of the stories and emotions that are carried in the songs performed at the 12th Rainforest World Music Festival held at the Sarawak Cultural Village.

Moana & The Tribe from New Zealand.

For Moana & The Tribe, the Kiwis tell us that their songs are about spirituality, the environment and ancestors. “We see ourselves as guardians of the land and culture, the link between ancestors and the future,” says Moana the singer, composer and leader of the 12-piece band.

Her songs reflect the struggles faced by the Maoris.“Songs are a medium of storytelling; and we use songs to tell of the struggles of our tribes being marginalized.” She refers to the colonization of New Zealand were the Maori culture was chipped at and eroded.

A few songs question the state of things. One song, says Moana, urges “the keeping of traditional Maori names of mountains and rivers alive, formally and legally, not just within our people”. She spoke about the British renaming a mountain that was once called Aoraki to Mt Cook. Aoraki is the highest mountain in New Zealand at 3,754m in the Southern Alps.

The Zawose family rehearsing poolside.

The song “Moko” addresses the difference between moko (Maori tattoo) and contemporary tattoo, to drive home the point that there is meaning in every indigenous moko carved on the skin of the Maoris. This is not to be dealt with flippantly or misused.

Vasco from Dazkarieh says his music unravels the differentways people relate to each other. He hopes to take a new approach in forging the relations between people. Some songs are about working in the field, and some religious. The Portuguese band revives songs played well before an oppressive Portugal regime 40 yrs ago that banned ethnic music.

The Zawose Family sings in Kigogo, their native dialect in Tanzania, retaining the old flavours of the African country before Swahili was nationalized as a unifying language. The late Hukwe Zawose composed songs that stirred the hearts of the people in taking pride in their country.

Robert Zawose

“We sing about the land, about nature, about people coming together, about life,” smiles Robert Zawose, then points to the tree. “See as we sing, even birds are coming.”

Even while keeping to age-old rhythm, listeners can appreciate their songs about the sufferings involved in the Hiroshima bombing as well as HIV disease. “Sumbu” is about how a woman feels when her child has lost her way, then is struck with memories of her difficult childbirth.

Akasha's James

Akasha from cosmopolitan Malaysia is a “rojak” instrumental band with skills in world music, classical and Latin Jazz. It becomes more interesting when the players who are ethnically Indians, Chinese and Caucasian playtraditional Malay music like the joget, and more contemporary tunes like blues, funk, jazz and Latin.

Guitarist James thinks music need not always have a story or a meaning.Music has the effect of bringing out a story within people when they listen to it. It pretty much lies in the eye of the beholder; it's not limited by our own vision of it.”

Photos by Mallika Naguran.

See related articles on Gaia Discovery: Interview with festival director Randy Raine-Reusch on 2009 surprising finds; challenges faced by Sarawak Tourism Board before the opening of the 12th Rainforest World Music Festival.

Rainforest World Music Festival Puts Sarawak on the Map

Sarawak’s Rainforest World Music Festival began 12 years ago was not without pain and anguish. It started with just an audience of 300; and half were compelled to go! Even the media refused to go as it required them to travel for more than 20 mins. This year, there were 260 media from around the world attending the event.

Spirits Soar at Sarawak Rainforest World Music

by Mallika Naguran


What’s a Rainforest Festival without some rain?

That’s the attitude that got half the audience up on their feet, grooving at the 11th Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival 2008.  Squelching ankle-deep mud could not stop them, while the rest – families, locals, foreigners from around the world – picnicked on sheets and mats on drier grounds, enjoying the party atmosphere from afar.

After all, this was the time they had waited oh so impatiently to be at Sarawak where the magic of music uncurls. Torrential rain on the opening day after ten consecutive years of great weather marked a first; in fact, organizers considered it bad timing. It was very, very, very wet.

However, musician Jean Claude from Kasai Masai was of the mind that it was auspicious. “If you don’t mind, I will tell you that in Congo where we come from originally, it rains everyday. This is because of the equatorial rainforest which is a lot bigger that Sarawak’s. Let me tell you that we, performing here for the first time, have brought our rainforest spirit with us. It is no coincidence.”

Tuku Kame of Sarawak.

It is hardly coincidental that the event brought together diverse spirits and cultures to produce colliding sound waves.

Foreign bands, 12 of them, and five local groups, oozed non-stop wide-ranging sounds such as traditional, folk, fusion, Celtic, rock, Baul and Socca.

The performers were New Rope String Band (United Kingdom), Yakande (Gambia/Guinea), Pinikpikan (The Philippines), Adel Salameh (Palestine), Ross Daly Quartet (Greece), Fadomorse (Portugal), Kasai Masai (Congo), Hiroshi Motofuji (Japan), Oikyataan (India), Beltaine (Poland), Sheldon Blackman and The Love Circle (Trinidad & Tobago).

Malaysian bands were Akasha, Anak Jati Bisaya Orchestra, Kan’id, Senida and Tuku Kame.

Pinikpikan thumps through hearts.

Appreciating the spirit of the community, environment, even the wild, form part of Pinikpikan’s life values. Guitarist and group director Samy of Pinikpikan talked about whales being poached and killed, and his song Butan Ding renders this point. “It’s a huge beast, yet it is vegetarian, eating plankton. So why kill it?” he asked.

The eight-member band from The Philippines spread the message of whale protection with traditional musical instruments such as the tungatong (bamboo shaker), derbuka (drum) and kutyati (two-stringed instrument from Mindanao) with Western instruments through an eclectic mix such as Afro-Cuban, Arabic and Asian.

Hendrix reinvented with Akasha.

They were among the youngster favourites who also included Akasha (Malaysia), Beltaine, Kasai Masai and Sidney

Sheldon over the three-day concert from 11-13 July at Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong. Taiko drummer Hiroshi Motofuji put on a pounding performance with a spread of drums, including the Indian mridhangam with mastery of interpretation.

Adel Salameh trio thrill.

Oud player Adel Salameh’s finger work held me in awe, accompanied by wild honey vocalist Naziha Azzouz, an Algerian. I especially enjoyed watching their unassuming drummer play expertly on the tambourine in the opening solo – a simple instrument we often take for granted – yet capable of soaring the spirit.

Photos by Foto Polo Singapore (www.travel-Malaysia.com) and Suchens.com for Sawarak Tourism Board.

Make plans now to attend the 12th Sarawak Rainforest Music Festival on 10-12 July 2009. Fringe events being planned in town, plus spend time at the world craft bazaar and folk art forum. Hotels get full during the event, so make plans early. And while you are in Sarawak, visit their many eco destinations.

Coming soon: recommended eco destinations in Kuching and Sarawak.