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Malinau Part 1 : IRAU Festival, North Kalimantan Event, Indonesia

Location : Kota Malinau, Kalimantan Utara, Indonesia.

Our visit to Malinau was rather impromptu. We never actually planned for it when we set out for our trip. It was only after meeting a Kayan lady at Miau Baru who informed us of this 2 week long biennial carnival here called IRAU.

Irau is a biennial event held since since 1998 on 26 October to coincide with the anniversary of Malinau Regency. The focus of this activity is to promote Borneo culture and  products, especially from Malinau Regency.

We did planned for Tanjung Selor’s BIRAU event though and would have proceeded direct to Tarakan after. The change of plan was most fruitful despite the long detour. I would say Malinau would be the equivalent of Baram in Sarawak which has the different tribes classified under ‘Orang Ulu’. But of course Malinau has a lot more different tribes with names unheard of in Sarawak.

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One of the several entrances to the main venue

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Kids presentation for the media

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Kenyah presentation

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Dayak Tahol boy demonstrating about 10 types of jungle traps

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Lots of varieties of food from all over Indonesia avaiable

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Our dinner

There was so much to see and experience that we had to extend another night to our 2 night stay here, at the expense of Nunukan because we had a dateline to arrive at Tawau for our flight to Kota Kinabalu which we had already booked. Although we would very much like to stay a night in Nunukan, the sacrifice was well worth it.

With an event this size, looking for a hotel near to the venue was quite a headache but eventually found one which had only one room to offer and it was good for one night only. We had to change to a cheaper but comfortable homestay in the town center which was walking distance to the jetty where we would take the speed boat when we left for Tarakan. To fully appreciate this event we would need 2 weeks here as that was the duration of the celebration.

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2 week program for the event

Each day was filled with different activities or presentations from the different tribes of Malinau. We will surely come back again for this event. Our future option would be to fly to Kota Kinabalu, transiting Tawau and proceed to Tarakan in one day and then take the local Kalstar flight to Malinau.
Petrol supply was a big issue here with so many vehicles coming into Malinau for the celebration. You would be shocked how long the queue was at the petrol station, sometimes over night. Luckily, there was the blackmarket depot quite a distance away selling at cut throat price. It was take it or walk, literally.

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Blackmarket petrol. We paid IDR13,000/liter

Taxi if available was expensive. I would suggest bike rental would be the best choice to move around and from hotel to event venue. There were other sports event going at the town stadium besides the main venue.

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Stadium

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Chess competition

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Full contact Taekwondo tournament

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Aquatic stadium

Irau exhibition booths

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Animal traps

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Blow darts and poison containers

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Musical instruments

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Antique jars

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Native traditional medicine

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Old Borneo map

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Met this school teacher from somewhere near Ulu Kapit border

Kota Malinau

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This was the road condition driving to Malinau.

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Masjid An Nur, interesting pagoda like structure

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