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


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…


…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…


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


…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.

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

6 thoughts on “This is us…”

  1. Every year we have this Kuching Food Festival too and this year it started just few days ago. Have not ventured to this type of event for such a long time as I don’t like crowded and stuffy places. The price of the bak chang is a bit too steep. As what I heard, these participating stalls have to donate a certain amount of money collected from the sales to some charity organisation, thus the food sold is pricey. How true is it, I am not sure.

    They say Kuching Food Fest is better – this one here is partly a trade fair. I did not go to that part of the festival grounds.

    I don’t mind paying more if it is for charity and the food is very good but everything was in Chinese – I could not read Mandarin. Like in Kuching, at the charity food fairs in church, Cheshire home, blind centre and so on, all the well-known people will make their specialty for sale, so expensive but so very nice…but people will go and buy – special treat and at the same time, contribute to charity. Some people would hear of it and book first – ever before the fair starts, already all sold out.

  2. Italian wrapped bacons?? That is definitely not local finger food. Haha.

    I finally get to see a Melanau traditional dance when I were on river cruise. Iban and Bidayuh dances, I have seen and pretty common when I used to work in my first company as it is Iban Family company (the famous businessman from Kapit). Orang Ulu, I have seen too but not Melanau till last week. Hahaha.

    I heard they had the “tanda” the night before, the traditional Melanau dance party. If I had known, I would have gone to join in the fun. I witnessed it once only when my aunt, my mum’s cousin, got married – she is now in her 70’s with children and grandchildren of her own so you can imagine how long ago that was. The Melanau traditional dance is simpler like the Bidayuh, the traditional costumes too, than the Iban and Orang Ulu

  3. Oh, all those porkie delights! I was looking at that swing and trying to figure how it works. I doubt it could support my weight wahahaha!!

    I think you have to bring the ring up the ramp…and swing down, sitting on it, like the trapeze and in the meantime, there will be people on the ramp who will jump onto your ring and hang on to swing along together. Very exciting and enjoyable, I’m sure…but don’t ask me to try. For sure, the whole thing will collapse. LOL!!!

  4. ooo this is cool – i didn’t even realise the borneo cultural festival existed. looks like a good way to maintain awareness of the people’s heritage 🙂

    So now you know. Make a date with us next year! I do appreciate the effort indeed but there is room for improvement. A whole lot of food and maybe they have the information in Mandarin but otherwise, one would not know the dialect of origin. Would be great to have themes – say, confinement foods, Foochow…or Hakka…and change the themes each year so one will not see the same things year in and year out.

  5. Same with Phong Hong, doubt too that the swing can support my weight, lol…

    The two of you put together cannot make one of me.

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at

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