Entrance to Sarawak Cultural Village
My mom is in town, visiting with us for a few weeks. We took advantage of the Hari Raya holidays to go to the Sarawak Cultural Village, about a 45 minute drive to the Damai resort area north of Kuching. It is a tourist attraction, a “living museum” modeled after the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu where the historical lifestyle of various ethnic groups of Sarawak are put on display.
Ticket prices are prominently posted at the entrance counters. At 60 Ringgit per adult, that would be quite a chunk of money! But locals take note: if you are a resident or long-time worker in Sarawak, you get a locals-only discount. In addition, the Village has special entrance rates for the various celebration public holidays such as Hari Raya, Christmas, Chinese New Year, and Gawai.
The best prices, though, will be on “Malaysia Day”, September 16, when all tickets will be only $10!
Sarawak Cultural Village Prices and Discounts
The village is actually an arrangement of different houses around a central lake, each featuring a different ethnic group found in Sarawak. Inside each house is a host who can show you around the house, how some things were used or made, how enterprising these people were. The first house we visited was the Chinese farm house.
Chinese Farm House
Inside, our host demonstrated how the farmers processed peppercorn berries to make the famous Sarawak pepper. Daniel took a spin on the granite rice grinder. I learned that the Chinese farmer’s bed consisted of two sawhorses, a sheet of plyboard, and a woven mat!
Next door is
The Malay House
Hari Raya is the absolute best time to visit the Malay house. All over Malaysia, Muslims are holding open houses and inviting guests to come have a meal of Malay foods such as lemang, rendang, ketupat, and curry. The Malay house is no exception. We got a chance to sit down, relax, play a game of congkak, and explore the house a little bit. As more guests arrived, the house started to get a little noisy so we moved on.
Moving on, we came to
The Melanau House
This is an immense structure, sitting high atop wooden pillars and accessed by tree trunks with steps cut into them. Under the house, some dancers were demonstrating a bamboo dance that reminded me of the Filipino Tinikling dance. Upstairs in the house were displays of traditional artwork and working implements.
We actually skipped by the remaining houses so we could get back to the theatre back near the entrance. It was getting close to 11:15 am, and the Cultural Show was due to start at 11:30. We wanted to show up a little early to get good seats.
Here is where the similarity to the Polynesian Cultural Center really comes through. The show is basically a revue of the different ethnic dances, put on by performers dressed in the traditional costumes of that group. I’m not sure how many ethnic peoples in the present day practice these dances, but I am glad they are being preserved and showcased by this troupe.
One dance that particularly impressed me was the Melanau dance, which was particularly energetic and acrobatic. I took a video of it. It starts off slow but trust me, you’ll want to watch it to the end!
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our visit!