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Irau Aco Lun Bawang Festival, Lawas Sarawak Event

Location : Lawas Town, Limbang Division, Sarawak, Malaysia.

After flying in from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu on the early afternoon flight, we wasted no time and immediately drove to Lawas. We made a brief stop for the sunset view at the coastal town of Sipitang.

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Sunset at Sipitang

By the time we reached the border checkpoint at Merapok it was already dark. As a matter of procedure, we still had to present our passports (or IC) at the immigration. Under heavy rain, we arrived at Lawas an hour later. All hotels were fully booked except for one.

The word Irau generally means Gawai or the rice harvest festival to the Lundayeh tribe of Borneo whether it be in North Kalimantan, Sabah or Sarawak. This tribe has been called Muruts in Sabah whereas their Sarawakian counterparts prefer to call themselves Lun Bawang. The celebration of Irau be it held in Long Pasia, Malinau or Lawas, unites them nevertheless.  With the Ministry of Tourism’s generous financial contribution this year, the event quality was way beyond our expectation. Good job Lawas!

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Newly appointed tourism minister Datuk Karim Hamzah was there to officiate the opening ceremony on the 1st June.

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Datuk Karim on the way to the stage. YB Baru Bian on extreme right.

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Welcoming VIPs

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Different communities of Lawas was on hand to receive Datuk Karim, each performing their ethnic dance.

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One of the ‘angklung’ band

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Lady playing the sulin flute

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Malay presenters

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Ngajat dance from the Ibans

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But the day belonged to the Lun Bawang who came out in full force from all corners of Sarawak in their own unique attires, bead cap, glass bead necklaces and their bamboo musical instruments to entertain the crowd.

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Rehearsal for beauty contestants

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Learning the ‘bas’ pipe made from bamboo. First time seeing this music instrument

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Free food sampling at the mock longhouse

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Lady explaining to us the varieties of rice planted by the Highlanders. Bottom: The most expensive rice is used for making this sticky cake

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