Saturday, 20 July 2013

My West Side Story of RWMF 2013

Be warned, this blog post has nothing much to do with the Jets or Sharks of West Side Story, neither with Romeo and Juliet. It is the west side story of my personal accounts at Rainforest World Music Festival 2013. All the previous posts were written in a more formal manner which I found to be a wee bit uptight not only while reading, but also when writing them! Well, as friends say, work gotta be work. Hence, the language had to go along with the purpose - publicity. 

So, in this post I will just talk about my personal experience hanging out at RWMF 2013 with my new found friends. It was all social media networking kind of relationship before we met and became friends. We have one thing in common that united us - the love of blogging. I would say we made a great team and had a jolly great time at the festival. Members who represented Sarawak Bloggers for the RWMF 2013 media coverage were Sentia, Aliey, Garner, Lyndi, Khairool and Ana. The alpha male of Sarawak Bloggers' wolf pack was none other than Mr. Garner, it was his second  time covering the world event. 

According to, wolves are very social animal and existed as a social unit. They travel and hunt in a group and do other activities in the company of fellow wolves (there goes my geeky side!). So, I guess that was pretty much what we were doing at RWMF 2013. We had lunch, dinner and supper together, we went photo hunting at the workshops or concerts together and almost everywhere we went, we did it as a unit. I would not trade those moments for anything in this world. The memories are worth keeping because in our day to day life, it is not often we hear people can instantly clique when they have never met each other. I will not forget the experience of Tia being a very careful driver, seeing Garner's getting his hair tattoo, Lyndi accompanying me getting the airbrush tattoo, taking a photo of Khairool at Heinekabana for his Facebook profile picture and last but not least, donating a laundry hanger to Aliey (which I brought from home) as she left her car keys inside her 'caravan'. 

Though RWMF 2013 had ended for a couple of weeks, but we still keep in touch through Facebook and ad hoc Whatsapp group chat. I do hope we could keep this friendship for as long as we live. This rare moment will not always present itself throughout the course of our lives. Cherish people who celebrate us, they are the positive vibes God sent to make us feel worthy of acceptance of who we really are.

It was totally a new experience for me to be part of the media community in covering RWMF. Experience is truly a great teacher. Of course everything was the first time for me. What I loved about RWMF was how the world music can unite people from around the globe. Seeing lots of smiles when workshops were in progress was very comforting; an escapade from the extremely hectic and tensed situation at work. Those smiles detoxified stress really fast. That was all that mattered to me. I did not have to travel so far to feel like I was on vacation.

Besides, I am glad to be connected via social networks with those who attended the event. We were strangers to each other before, but not after RWMF. We exchanged and shared photos to promote one another on our blogs, Facebook and Instagram. I even met Rayyan Haries, the happy-go-lucky travel blogger ( Such a cute and jovial person. That is why this whole thing is very meaningful. It connects us in a unique way which we least expected. I always believed no one is meant to cross my path if he or she is not meant to have good impact on my life. People stay or leave later on, that is another story. 

Overall, I am satisfied with the event organisation. Those who have been to RWMF a few times might have different views, but I personally loved it. It depends on how each of us perceives the significance of this event. I cannot force people to think positive if they have bad experience or got less than what they bargained for. Based on what I heard and read, some thought the performers line-up was not as interesting as the previous years. Well, I had a blast for sure! I agree with those who think we should use this platform to promote our local ethnic musicians. We need to understand what is common here can be intriguing to foreigners. The same thing applied to the locals who went to RWMF wanting to experience different cultures and musics from foreign lands. I say give our local musicians a chance, they need exposure too. According to a local Dayak magazine (Senawah), Jerry Kamit, the Sape player has made our country proud by winning several Gold medals at a music event in USA. If we do not support our own music, who will? I am also told that another local avant-garde ethnic music band, Nading Rhapsody, will be performing at foreign music festivals too. This is indeed a good news as our local ethnic music is gaining recognition from international music community. They did perform at RWMF 2012. Thus, this festival should be organised each year for as long as it can. RWMF is undeniably a launch pad for local musicians to go far and beyond on international stage. If we do not encourage the current generation to learn and appreciate ethnic music, I fear one day we may lose some precious traditions and cultures of Sarawak ethnics. Even if traditional music instruments have to be played along side the modern ones, the effort is still considered noble in order to revive our tradition and to keep our ethnic identity. As we have witnessed in this age, the existence of religious and secularistic beliefs have gradually wiped out certain rituals among the ethnics of Sarawak. Nevertheless, I think traditional music instruments and religion can co-exist as long as the music does not contravene the religious teaching. Having that said, I hope Sarawak Tourism Board never ceased to keep the RWMF torch burning for the sake of world's music, culture and tradition. I believe STB has done a tremendous and brilliant job on RWMF 2013.

(Click on photo to view larger image)

Didn't see that many hippies camping here
Stalls at Damai Central to fill up your tummy and quench thirst 
A rare view, double rainbows!
Inside media centre
A flyer about Pesta Benak 2013
Yeah, my name is opHelia
Daily pass, goodies bag and a name card. 

The limited pass and another goodies bag from Heineken
 The producer of TRAXXfm who loved to take photos for us, funny hat!
With Rayyan Haries the travel blogger
With the TRAXXfm team after media brief
Wear media pass ONLY :-)  haha
I was here
Proof of me doing my 'job' which I was so glad to do
 Each of us given free 6 glasses of Heineken but I only drank 2, which I didn't even finish! :-P
Actually I wanted to eat but Tia said we needed to be here first
Crowd at Lagenda Hall for the workshop
We had our lunch and dinner at Bayridge every day
Where we would rest and chat during concert at night
Sore legs that still healing from torn ACL
One of my favourite photos at the Heinekabana
Was really confused at first and then I remembered it was Sarawak mascot, not UBAH. =D
Where I got my first tattoo
Ouch! Not painful at all but proud to have it
Garner getting his hair tattoo
Resting at One Santubong Hotel, exhausted on the fourth day. 
These two photos were from Sentia's mobile phone
Garner helping this group of friends taking photos and they did the same for us too
Our photo without K-Rule
The original group photo which get cropped at Sarawak Bloggers tribune, the members at the back were 'headless'. Haha :D 
I love the colours!


  1. Good one. Enjoyed reading this, and definitely love the fact that you guys all got to experience what I had, which is to meet new friends over the RWMF.


    1. Was glad I decided to join the club this year! I won't forget it for life.

  2. Still gutted we didn't get to meet and hang but soon soon! Definitely going again next year. (:

    1. Yeah, hope to see you again next year!