Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Festival of Incidents

What a trip!

It was a truly unforgettable first `Rainforest World Music Festival' for me - well, not for all the right reasons unfortunately. And some of the incidents would probably be stuck in my mind..

Maybe because I've heard such raves about it and had conjured some kind of expectation.. Or maybe I'm not a true lover of world/ethnic music after all.. But what really put a damper on it was our choice of accommodation..

Living in the long house was a terrible experience for me. So I ended up forgoing the second and third night stay (which was paid) and checked into Tune Hotel in Kuching instead.

To post the whole account of the three days would probably end up like a loooong article that no one will read.. So I shall just share some highlights here:

The Dampers:
  • The shuttle from Kuching to Sarawak Cultural Village (where the RWMF was held) was pretty badly organised - the staff could not speak English and worse, gave different instructions everyday making things so complicated and frustrating! Sometimes we were told to book beforehand while other time just buy tickets at the bus.
  • Since my friend and I are virgins at Kuching, we did a boo-boo ended up taking a cab from a hotel to another that is just opposite side of the road!! And the sly cab driver charged us RM8 for that ride!
  • It started pouring just before the shows began on the first night - we ended up watching more than half of it on the screen at a sheltered place. The ground in front of the stage was so muddy and hadn't dried up by the 3rd day!
  • This would take the icing of the cake - the deplorable condition of the Iban longhouse! - we're charged RM120 a night for a double room - and what we got were
  1. really basic (read: primitive) room with just two beds - a hard pillow and thin dirty-looking blanket, a cupboard and a wall fan that could not even rotate..
  2. a wet, dirty-looking toilet downstairs to be shared by four rooms. Cold-water shower, tiny basin and a WC. what's worse was there was NO water during `peak periods'! The first night, most of us bathed by scooping water from a a big pail - while the second night there was no water from 9pm to 3am - but by then I was gone.
  • There was an opening that overlooked the common area and a large group of people were chatting and laughing away till about 4am! Sleepless first night for me..
  • Staying in three different rooms for the three nights! Well, at least the second and third nights were in the same hotel though different rooms.
  • Not used to oily food, I suffered stomach ache on the first night - causing me to miss the finale which is one of the best bands!
  • My friends' room next door was `broken into'. Thankfully they didn't lose anything - we still unsure if it was a drunkard guest from outside or the longhouse who claimed to see that who was the culprit. They lodged a report and since I was the witness - who saw the worker coming out of their room - I went with them and also missed a good band playing.
  • There were more incidents but better not rant on...

The Delights

  • The Cultural Village was pretty - with a lake, mountain and forest, and the two concert stages had tall trees of rainforest as back drops. In the night with lighting, it looked romantic and surreal in a way.
  • The atmosphere was quite vibrant - it had a multi-national, multi-racial crowd, there were craft bazaars and various activities and festivities going on. Managed to buy something for mom and my nephews and niece, and even had henna done too!
  • Got some time to explore Kuching but just around the Waterfront touristy area and ate some local food (but suffered stomach problem :(

The photos by themselves are pretty interesting and `exotic' though..

Outside our Iban longhouse
The pathetic toiletMy room for the 2nd and 3rd night at Tune Hotel

Finally, if the music had been awesome, I think that would have cheered us up a bit.

Unfortunately most of the music, especially by Malaysian and Asian bands, were so monotonous - perhaps something you see in a cultural show! But there were some pretty good ones too - like the French, the NewZealand and Hungary were some of my favourites. The Tanzania group's bongo dance was a riot though music there was hardly any.

Overall I think I only enjoyed less than 30 per cent of all performances.. the final night was the best of all and our Malaysian band from KL - Akasha - was great and most enjoyable! :)

nb. wanted to upload more concert pix but Blogger fails me!! maybe later..


MayaKirana said...

Hi Jess! So sorry to hear you had a horrible time at RWMF 09 in Kuching. I must admit that the Iban longhouse you stayed in looked really awful. As the first-time visitor to Kuching, you had it tough. Poor you. I would suggest that you try to book really early next year (that's in case if you still want to attend) but then again, most of the good hotels are reserved for international guests. ;-( Or make friends with Kuching folks and get to stay with them. Most Kuchingites are really wonderful hosts and totally friendly. It was truly unfortunate you met some horrid ones like the cab driver and the hotel people. Penang Music Fest is somewhat less rambunctious and a little more comfy as Penang hotels are aplenty! ;-) Come visit Penang lah!

jesscet said...

Hi Maya, thanks for dropping ur comment here! hehe, it was still quite an `interesting' experience but i really don't know if i want to return so soon.. we actually tried booking almost a year ago but the hotels were either too expensive or reserved for certain guests like u said. My friend told me she enjoyed the Penang Jazz Festival much better so it's very tempting. But this year is out due to prior commitment unfortunately.

Love your blog! notice we have some common blogger friends too tho i'm a very unknown/insignificant and now infrequent blogger. :p