Saturday, February 18, 2012

Conference Tour

Though the 2012 ICGA has officially ended yesterday, the organizers have arranged for a conference tour for interested participants. Visits to the orang utan rehabilitation centre in Semenggok, some 30 kilometers from the Kuching city; cottage industry (layered cakes and other souvenirs) and the cultural village, located about an hour drive from the city were organized. Twenty six participants took part in the expedition. We were taken to these places by the university bus, complete with a competent tour guide, Rose. Our first stop was the Botanical Research Centre in Semenggok, where orang utans are being rehabilitated. At the centre, orang utans are kept in the wild, and we were lucky as six of them came out to "greet" us. Our next stop was a visit to several cottage industry: layered cakes, Sarawak delicacies and souvenirs shops in a nearby Malay village. The products are not just sold locally, some are being exported to other countries within the region. After a short lunch, we proceeded to visit the cultural village, which was developed in the 1980s upon the recommendation by the then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed. The village is one of Sarawak's top tourism spots. In the village, one would find model houses of different major tribes in Sarawak: Bidayuh, Iban, Orang Ulu, Melanau, Penan, Malay and Chinese. Interestingly, longhouses of some of these native tribes have been reconstructed at the village so as to allow visitors to have a "peep" of their culture and "way of life". Actual longhouses are mainly available in the inner part of Sarawak and that makes it difficult for outsiders to have an exposure of their culture.
The development of the cultural village is indeed a brilliant idea. Within the village itself, there is an exhibition theather hall where cultural shows to showcase the culture of these different types are often arranged for the visitors. The participants were also taken for a tour of the Kuching city and to see various parts of the beautiful Sarawak.

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