This is us…

Yes, this is us! Our culture, our heritage which should be preserved and cherished and kudos to the organisers for doing a great job in holding this event…

Borneo Cultural Festival arch

…every year – the Borneo Cultural Festival.

This year’s was from the 19th until the 28th of July and one of the main attractions would be this Melanau swing, called the itut

Itut

I was there early that evening so the people had not got into the swing of things yet, so to speak. If I am not wrong, it is called by different names depending on the locality where the Melanaus come from, one of which is the tibow. One thing peculiar about the Melanau language is that if you are from different parts of the Rejang Basin, the Melanau that you speak may be quite different – like what we here in Sibu speak compared to those in Matu or Oya…or Dalat and Mukah.

I did drop by this place…

Rumah Melanau

…but it was still closed so I did not get to go in but I did manage to get a photograph of these mannequins dressed in the traditional Melanau costumes…

Melanau traditional costumes

…through the window and this is one of the Chinese booths…

Chinese booth

…and no, there was nothing going on at the time when I was there.

All the food stalls were in the thick of things already though and there were a lot of people around buying whatever they fancied. This is one of the many ethnic/Iban stalls selling their traditional pansoh (food cooked in bamboo) and barbecued pork belly…

Pansoh & babi panggang

It seems to be a popular practice here to marinate the meat with the red coloured asamboi (sour plums) giving it that horrendous colour, even the chicken wings and what not at a lot of places. Personally, I would prefer that they do not do so like at this stall…

Babi panggang

…where the meat would be barbecued till a lovely shade of brown.

I saw these…

Roast pork trotters

…at another stall but no, they were definitely not of our authentic Borneo origin. My missus did buy a bit to try…

Cooking

…and she said that they told her it was Italian or something…and yes, she loved it!

This strictly-not-halal pork burger stall…

Burger Babi

…caught my attention – the boys were certainly very nice and friendly but no, I did not grab one of theirs nor this giant one…

Giant burger

…the size of a seat cushion, that I saw at another stall.

I thought the tempura seafood in a cup…

Tempura seafood

…looked very good but they could not tell me if any wheat flour was used in the making so I did not buy that either nor did I buy any of these that I saw at a vegetarian stall…

Vegetarian

…whatever that was. I did buy something from there though, this serimuka

Serimuka

…that looked really nice. However, it was not lemak enough for me and had a sort of herbal taste to it, something remotely like the guilinggao (tortoise/turtle jelly) so at best I would say it was all right but no, I certainly did not go running back there for more.

These chang (glutinous rice dumplings)…

Chang

…looked very nice and big but at that price, I decided I would not take the chance.

There was somebody making the tee peang

Tee peang

…with meat filling too and one handsome boy was frying the char koay kak (Chinese fried carrot cake) while the guy beside him was cooking some bihun kueh or something…

Handsome boy & his koay kak

Even though it rained earlier that afternoon and it was not that hot, I still felt the heat and was sweating uncomfortably and did not feel like eating anything. That was why I did not buy anything in the end but I must say I was very impressed by all that I saw.

One year, I dropped by and saw a whole lot of deep-fried stuff – those Taiwanese street food kind of thing and I was quite disgusted as this festival should be a showcase of our own culture and should have a lot of our local culinary delights…and those days, what they had at their stalls looked like things they had bought at the pasar malam (night market) and brought over to sell at marked up prices. This year, I did see a lot of things being made or cooked on the spot.

I’ve heard a lot of people grumbling that the festival was just slightly over a week long and should be extended to two weeks or even a month. This year’s did coincide with a long weekend, July 22nd being a public holiday here but it probably would be nice if, in future, the dates are planned to include the school holidays so people from other parts of the state or the country can come as well.