wait, i can do this.... sorry what was i supposed to do again?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Kotobian tagazo do Tadau Kaamatan.....

So i got back from KL last two Sundays, and had already two main agendas during my

stay here in KK during my break.

1. Check out the Kaamatan Festival
2. Go Scuba Diving OR
3. Go White water rafting.

so many things were up in one go that i didnt even realize what day was what, and to know actually what day it was, kinda pissed me off because my break was going towards the end without me even realizing it.

but this year for me, memang tahun melawat malaysia giler laaa. seriously people, Malaysia isnt far off bad at all. provided you have the time and money. i have not much of neither, but i had advantages. hehehe.

okay so anyway, one of the main reasons why i came back to my sweet sweet awesome hometown this time was watching the Unduk Ngadaus during the kaamatan festival. hehehe. For those who dont know what's Unduk Ngadau, it is usually the peak event of the Kaamatan Festival, celebrated by the Kadazan Dusun Rungus Murut race.

The Kaamatan Festival is actually a paddy harvest festival. Well basically back god knows more than 300 - 400 hundred years ago, there was a point of time when they were starving because the paddy fields weren't really producing and probably even during a really bad drought at that point of time. So what happened was they decided to go to the priestesses of the community, and the priestesses communicated with the gods and decided that they demand a sacrifice.

Hence the next thing that happened was the community decided to pick up the prettiest, lady in the village, naming them the 'Unduk Ngadau' which literally means the heart of the sun. the lady basically should have these unique attribute, beauty, grace, strength, and bravery. so then, when they sacrificed her, not long after, their paddy fields start producing and decided that day onwards they will celebrate the harvest festival to appease the gods in such way.

well here's probably a better explanation i got from google/geocities.
Kinoingan/Kinorohingan (God) and his wife Suminundu had a beautiful daughter Huminodun. The people of Sabah were starving, so Kinoingan sacrificed Huminodun. Out of her body came rice seeds which grew bountifully. That's why Kadazans have beauty contests during these celebrations: an utterly unique attribute. The Unduk Ngadau (beauty queen, literally means "heart of the sun") is supposed to embody all the qualities Huminodun had: beauty, grace, strength and bravery.

On Kaamatan day (usually end of May) priestesses called Bobohizan or Bobolian perform the rituals to appease the rice spirit called Bambaazon or Bambarayon. They would walk in a line and perform what is called Magavau. It is marked by chantings and going into trances. In private, some of these people claim that they can "walk" more than 100 miles in 10 minutes, or that sharp objects wouldn't hurt them

for the malays, this is another good link for the kaamatan explanation.

so now you know what's kaamatan festival and unduk ngadau. now from my point of view of attending the kaamatan festival in Penampang, Sabah. Finally, after 25 years of my life as a Sabahan, i managed to attend this festival. basically after the development of human politics and modernity, now unduk ngadau is a yearly beauty pageant reserved for the kadazan dusun rungus and murut race, regardless your pure of mixed.

first of all... parking was a hassle. but that's a normal problem. so i didnt really care. oh btw... during this time, a lot of tourists of all colors, all races, all religion from all over the world would come to this famous event we have in sabah.
so outside the main event, which is the Unduk Ngadau event held in an auditorium, are a LOT of other cultural side events and traditional houses of the different clans of the kadazan dusun rungus murut locals. i must say, going to the event made me feel like a kid again. senang macam nih lah, the whole place was like Disneyland... the only difference is, the rides are the countless hot girls that pass by you like every 3 second, and the mascots are the houses, and the fun theatres and shows are the cultural shows. that was how awesome it was. to me la at least. and knowing the fact that it's a Sabah thing, and knowing that I myself is a Sabahan, can't be anymore prouder. so... sabah... rock on....

but seriously, so many adorable ladies there... AND of all freaking ages!!!! even the kids you know when they grow up, they're so gonna be hot, and you regretting not growing up with them around the same age. and then the old ladies, same comment. you so know they're hot back when they were younger. damn proud to be sabahan.

what's also amazing i thought was looking at these different types of houses from different clans and areas of Sabah. one of them almost resembled the old longhouses of the ibans in sarawak, AND the weirdest thing was, it was the clan that's further away from the sarawak region. hehe. weirdly cool. the walls were made by tree barks, and when i asked one of the elders, he said the material could last roughly 10 years with proper maintenance.

another thing i find that made me smile so much was how the Sabahans is so very open and multicultured was how when i go into some of the houses, the families that sat down and prepared the cultural stuff, consisted of two main different religion, the christians, and muslims. and im like... interesting. you see an elderly woman with a cross on her necklace, and a woman with the hijab preparing their kids clothes for the cultural shows, and some were even hand crafting crafts and carpets. this is due to how inter-racial marriage and conversion of religion grew through out the years, and some of families are just so cool and open about it, that they still maintain the family integrity, and tightness no matter what religion they are, as long as they are from the same race and roots, as compared to some families that might not be as open and just totally diss their families away when they convert to islam, or different religion.

or heck, within the same religion and race, but then one might find that their culture arent so fitting with them anymore and decided to adapt with the modern world. some might be quite furious knowing why the hell are their kids, or friends want that change. what's wrong with your own culture and race? let them be. just still dont let them go and remind them where they come from once in a while. and for those who are in the other set of group, sure you prefer other culture, other races' mindset or not, but it doesnt give you the right to abhor where you come from completely. seriously, Malaysia and her natives, arent bad at all. probably they're even better than the western culture in a lot of ways. the working culture and all, yes it may differ, the gossips and shit... so what... that's your mindset, it's how you adapt to it, but still maintain your own identity simultaneously make others feel very comfortable around you... now... that's admirable no matter who you are.

now after going through all the houses and the side cultural shows, we went to the Unduk Ngadau event. i was excited, my first time, i wonder how would it feel. okay... first of all, the entring the event... dear god... there's only one main door opened for people to enter... so you have this throng of crowd of different sizes pushing each other to enter the main entrance, which is controlled most of the time. so some people were angry, some were hot, you cant blame people for pushing you because it was a huge crowd of people trying to enter. seriously! and one of the moments that i felt really bad was how some moms' tried to bring their babies, and little kids around, and the kids are also squished in the middle. what's wrong with that picture. i dont blame the moms' completely for bringing their kids to a traditional, back to the roots cultural experience, but obviously dude, at times, when things get pretty out of hand, you have to decide what's more important. the safety of your kids, or them experiencing culture. pepatah melayu said 'biar mati anak, jangan mati adat' which means let the kid die, but never let your culture die... but seriously, if your kids die, who the fuck are gonna keep the culture on??

so anyway, i managed to get in with my friends and nephews. once we were there, somehow, we were so lucky to get the seats. okay... i'm not gonna be too nice about this thing. so to those readers who'd like to disagree with me... please do so and give your defense. but dude... okay, i entered around 2 pm. in actuality, the event had already started since 9am. the opening, the introduction of the unduk ngadaus, the speeches, some cultural performances, and somehow... people... somehow... i dont there's a LOT of karaoke singing. if you dont realize it, at one point, i guess probably after 2 songs... it gets really, really, REALLY boring. tolong lah. this event is attended by the elected head of state, and people from all over the world. again... ALL... OVER... THE WORLD.... to fill it up with so many karaoke singing... might as well i just take the tourists and heck even the tuan yang terhormat (TYT) to the karaoke box, and let them sing while i feed them chicken wings. argggh. okay, you think the bad event management ends there. no. NooOOOOO.

to think that this event has been going on for more than a hundred years, you'd assume they'd get this event squared and smooth. bad assumption. next thing you know, the peak of the festival itself, the Sabah Unduk Ngadau election was another bugger. so you have 36 contestants, and it was already 230pm. about 5 hrs after the whole event has started. now the unduk ngadau thingy really JUST started. okay, so everyone is introduced... and yes... a LOT of the unduk ngadau representing their district and area are hot. heck... hot and gorgeous... but until one point time. the time where you cross the line that says 'dude, it's been more than 10 hrs... i'm tired, hungry, and sleepy'.yes, i agree with all of them giving their speeches, but dude, why the hell do you have to force them to walk so very... very... VERY slowly. my sister counted, roughly, each contestant has to strut almost 2 minutes. EVERY one of them. so 36 multiply by 2 minutes... that's more than one hour. of strutting, walking, gracefully. dont you pity them?? kasian bah sikit . and that doesnt even include the speech. that was the first round. the second round, they made them strut again. AGAIN. but this time only 17 contestants left. so they made them strut with some introduction of their hobbies and stuff. 2 more minutes there. seriously!! seeeeeeeeeeeeeriously!!

oh btw... in intersection of the events, first i thought they took some tie to change to other clothings, like swimsuits, or evening gown, or something like that... you know, like miss world or miss universe whatever. it turns out, they all came into the second round with the same traditional clothes. im like... why did it take so long? turns out... it was reserved for the judges scorecard calculation. im like... WTF???the olympics dont take that long, to calculate. you know how long? enough to fit 4 karaoke slots long. no shit. and they just had to fit the karaoke thingy. duuuuuude. people are tired. why dont you have an audience interaction performance, or in this multimedia age, the so called 'cinta IT', i bet there's so many people who could make a proper kickass videoshow for the event. that way there are other backup events. people dont get boring and pissed. it was just too long. why the bad event management??

and the amazing thing is, okay, Miss Universe just ended, they have like the first Miss Universe uniform, then the swimsuit, then the nightgown, then the Q&A, then the election. for Miss World, sometimes there's even the traditional clothing. okay... all of those... the longest time the Miss Univer or Miss World would take... 4 hrs. total. with some kickass performances by renowned artists. now the unduk ngadau... 1 traditional clothing... and... and.. that's it. THAT'S IT. duuuuuude... that thing lasted from morning. i couldnt stay till the end. i was just really tired. i left at 5pm. i dont know what time it ended. why so long?? why the bad event management??the TYT has to pray coz he's muslim, even if he doesnt pray, you think he wants to sit down for 10 hrs? the ladies arent even gonna be his girlfriends. if i sent my friend off for a flight to Korea, she'd arrive to her hotel first before i got out of the freakin auditorium. a pregnant woman whose water broke 2 hrs before the event started would already have had her baby by 3pm most of the time. heck maybe even earlier. A circumcision (sunat) last shorter than that. obviously mine a bit longer due to my big big heart.

so please... seriously... EVENT MANAGEMENT people. all in all the Kaamatan Festival, aside the Unduk Ngadau bad event management was great. yes some of them were really hot. but seriously, you get tired at one point. oh and yes, some of the crowds were really hot as well. sigh... im proud to be a sabahan... but event management dude. pleeeease la. boleh? boleh?

Kaamatan pictures....

lawak giler mamak nih. aku tanya dier what's roti cobra... and he said roti, telur, and ayam. i'm like... hmmm awat tak panggil murtabak... here's why... a new definition of roti telur....

now that's some drummer....

rumah panjang... kayu, buluh... but Astro... mana-mana adaaaa....

Rice liquor borneo style... all in those big vases....

sexy mama....

more sexy mamas....

damnit... why weren't u born around the late 80s?

see? i told you every house has a different identity... varying from the different races, this one was either rungus or murut....

jamming sessions of the olden times....

the gabang... made only from planks of different thickness... sounds more like a xylophone... did i spell that rite?

presenting... nose flute... top that miles davis....

crafting i think something drummy....

'irfan sayang, seriously... why'd you go get born in the 1980s? you couldve held on till the late 90s!! there's gonna be the hotter cars, the flashy apartments, and definitely me... sigh... i'll try wait longer but i can't promise okkay?'... adorable she is huh?

yepss... these are the unduk ngadaus....

i dont know they represent which area... but do i actually look like i care? but yes, i wish i could scout for more... i guess ada yang lagi hot to the max...

My days ain't over yet at the world's end....

Sabah has so much things to offer. it's beautiful, adventurous, and awesome. I'm talking about the people, the place, and the culture. one of the things that i've wanted to do for so long was white water rafting. initially i wanted to go diving, but my mom wanted me to drive her around for weddings... 'yeaaaay' (awkwardly). so i decided to drop that, and join my visiting colleagues to white water rafting. being pumped up with macho charge, and extreme sports, i was excited. what i experienced, was completely more than what i bargained for.

so our journey was from the promenade hotel where we were picked up by the travel agent in a minivan. from there, it was roughly an hour drive to the famous small town of Beaufort, southwest to KK. in the minivan, beside me sat two ladies from the USA. very nice people, Kathy and Donna. they're fun people, talked to them, they've been travelling southeast asia for roughly 1 week, Bali, Sabah, Brunei, Sulawesi, and Bali again in the end. being the tourist guide and 'tahun melawat malaysia' guy i am... i promoted sabah and malaysia and told them they need much more than a week in Malaysia to experience Malaysia truly asia.

when we reached Beaufort, we then rode a chartered train to the rafting location. the train is basically used by the locals who lives deep in the areas that arent accessible by roads. kids use it to go to school to the nearest town like Beaufort and Papar itself, and now they added the rafting area. the train ride took roughly 45 minutes. no network, no roads, just greens. the first stop the train made was to drop all of our stuff and change into the clothes we were going to use for rafting. this 1st drop off point will also be the end of the rafting route. yeapss... we were psyched. the guys and i were pumped up with macho charge and growling as much as we could.

The train ride, memang dasar tourist. i guess the locals were probably going like... 'apa laaa laki nih palui banar...' if they ooonly knew i was local....

then we boarded the train again for another 20 minutes. along the way, as we were making jokes and all, suddenly comes in the view of the rapis. dear god... it was crazy. no shit. craaaazzzy. i was excited. one of my friends went 'okay, seriously, why the hell are we doing this again?'. then we reached another station, i cant remember what station pangor or god knows something. there we got ourselves geared up. me and the guys were still making jokes, and was really excited. after that, we attended a safety briefing. see, usually i would listen to these things, but somehow it was one of those days where i didnt. coz hey, these are the life threatening adventure thingy, so you'd definitely want to make sure you did something right.

the weather was really nice. seriously... nice, and the river was nice. when i mean nice, nice for a rapids. when i say nice, rapids for my level, is the life threatening ones. yeapss. so packed with my life jacket, helmet, and paddle, i went like,'alrite guys, good luck. and we need to be systematic'. so as it turns out, our group is the only group that consists of all-men in mid-20s. so we got two guides, Army and Lubi. Army was the head guide, and seeing us, all vibrant, excited, growling, rocking, male and young, the he was excited as well. first thing he said, 'okay guys, mo kasi terbalik ka ndak?' meaning do you want the boat flipped or not? we went like... hell yeah 'terbalik!!'. and we had to ask for a lot. and told him to surprise us. i was seriously pumped up with adrenaline. i volunteered myself to take the front with my friend because we knew how to swim. or so i thought. i thought it shouldnt be too hard. i mean, it's gonna be hard, but i didnt expect what was i about to experience.

so we boarded the raft, and started rafting, off we went, initially we went through just small rapids. and the guide was rocking, we were doing roars with our oars (damn that rhymes), and we even synchronized paddling. then he did the first boat flip. but this one he told us. so we were excited. and he flipped us. the feeling was awesome, and we were laughing and roaring. the feeling was awesome. flipped into rapids, and climbing up the raft again, damn awesome. we were cheering how cool we were. and Army asked again, 'mau lagi ka?' we went like YEAAAAH!!!

after the first part of the rapids... muka confident giler....

then Army said, 'that rapids up front is called the headhunter's rapids. roughly about 200 meters of rapids'. we were like 'yeaaaah bring iiiit!!'and bring it he did. next thing i knew the two front persons, me and my friend were both flipped over when suddenly there was a rapid drop. i went in to the water, only hearing water and silence, and when i got out, there i saw people screaming at me 'swim irfan!! swim!!'. Swim i did, and it was difficult. but as i was about to reach my raft, another raft came towards me, but luckily the guide for that raft maneuvered the raft and didnt push me further, so i manage to swim and drift to my raft. they picked me up, and we cheered. tup tup, we realized one was missing. turned our heads, our friend was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay up front. no shit. he was drifing away, and we paddled our hearts to save em. we reached him as fast as we could, and threw a rope and got him. once he was on top, we cheered again. i was still laughing, he was still laughing, everyone cheered. like dude... the feelin was awesome.

we reached a point where we stopped got down and laughed and talked about what happened. after that we got on again. after that... a lot of things happened, oh yeah, not after we screamed 'THIS IS SPARTAAAA' followed by 'AAAUUH AAAUUUH'.. yes yes... wannabes. in a very short time. we rafter and got through one rapid i cant remember. then we chilled and rested. and suddenly Army said 'okay guys, yang itu namanya, Washing Machine, 50-50 terbalik'. indeed. we were like, okay okay, if we got flipped over, best la gak... and we went into the first part, and next you see this whirlpool develop on one part of this river. you thought it was nothing really, but suddenly it disappeared. then i remember saying 'alaaaa'. right. not a good thing to say. it's like you challenging god's power. milisecond after, in front of us the rapids dropped, a whirlpool appeared, and we flipped. next thing i know i was underwater, trying to surface, but couldnt coz the boat was directly on top my head. pushed myself a bit, and then i saw Army, damn macho on top of the flipped boat flipping it back normally. next thing i know i was sucked into the undercurrent again. when i surfaced, the boat was nowhere to be seen, i passed by my friends who were struggling for their lives, clinging on the paddles, i passed by some rafts, and gasping for breath. i couldnt even swim properly. everytime i move my legs, the wave suddenly comes from no where and pulled and pushed me into the water. everytime i tried to breathe, waves come on every corner and i drank so much water.

no one's laughing now huh?

i really fought for my life. i held on to my life vest. and i saw no one else and then saw a raft. i saw everyone screaming 'swim!! swim!!!' i could only push my best. first thing i said while i struggled for air, 'Subhannallah', and went into the water again, and surfaced again, and i thought i was pretty close to death, and said my syahadah.

but in a very short nanosecond, i hear myself saying, 'irfan, be calm, fight, live'. i did. i pushed as much as i can, and i reached the raft, and they carried me up. i was throwing up some water and coughing. then i looked around and saw like a group of people. the lady in front of me asked me was it fun. i said 'shiiiit, that was crazy'. i saw one guy still in the river, and we were screaming trying to get them, and he just passed by. actually, i dont even know if i was actually on the boat, or was still in the water when i saw him. it was that crazy. then suddenly i laughed, and made jokes, asking them where're they from, hongkong btw, and had my video shot, then suddenly i wondered... shit... what the hell happened to my friends? turned around and saw my raft with only three people on it. one guide, one of my friends, and one dude i dont know who. the rafts pulled over to one side of the river bank and waited for the others. and looks like most of our friends were rescued by other boats. phew. Washing Machine indeed. memang basuh baik punyaa. oh yeah at this point, one of my friends over heard... 'abis sudah, ndak ada sparta'. i thought that was so funny.

we boarded back our boats. looked to each other. everyone was quiet. and i said that i prayed so much for my life. everyone agreed. we were out of breath, and running out of energy. some of them said they almost completely gave up. when drift took them to rafts that helped them. some held on to each other, which was actually much more dangerous because you might pull the other one down with the added weight. some said they saw their life flashing, some were hit by rocks and yes... all that macho charge completely gone when God just placed one small life threatening challenge. and that was not even for a minute. then Army said something.. 'okkkaaay, yang panting, kita masih hiduuuuuuuup!! yeaaaaaaaah!!'. raised his oars, and we raised ours. but in a more serious tone. we were serious indeed. then we passed one more rapid, cant remember, we got through, next thing we know we got through, and then Army said, 'ada satuuu lagi... itu... namanya cobra, 50 meter panjang. namanya Cobra'. yes... cobra indeed.

next thing we know, again, we flipped. but this time the rapids arent as crazy as Washing Machine. but still a worse than the first flip. i managed to swim towards another raft, and someone reached out their paddle and i grabbed it. they pulled me up. and finally, we reached the final point. the point where we dropped off our stuff.

the aftermath.....

I'll come back for ya'll again later... memoirs of a malaysian cowboy....

guide and us... in the middle in bright blue is Army, and the dark blue with long hair is Lubi....

okay, i figured out how to open the ropes once... a biiiit more....

i never felt so thankful to god that i still managed to stand on solid ground(but later that nite pengsan gak aku). during our prepared lunch, we shared the near death experiences. drowning in rapids. Level 3&4. The rapids of Padas River, in Sabah. Strangely enough the other boats took safer routes and didnt get flipped as much as we did. heck some even didnt get flipped at all. we also talked about the same story again later on at nite during dinner. finally, we deduced this

1. We were all pumped-up young men with adrenalin. coz all the rest of the boats had ladies there.
2. We were quite loud, crazy, and pumped up with confidence... waaay to much. so the guide felt like, 'hahah... another group of jackasses to torture'.
3. We rock.
4. We asked to be flipped... but only twice. and got 4 instead.

so... if you do want to raft, and have that crazy experience, dont bring your girlfriends. and even if you do, go sit on a raft full of crazy extreme sports men. and just scream out as much as you can till the guide gets pissed off and flip the raft.

would i do it again? Hell yeah... it was crazy, hell yeah i almost drowned, i was tired, but it kept me close to Allah. so yeah... i'd definitely do it again.

Malaysia is not just Truly Asia, it truly is adventure that lasts a lifetime.

best crazy things I've done in my entire life in Sabah.
1. Climb Mount kinabalu via Mesilau... check
2. Scuba Diving... semi check... have to dive again in Sipadan.
3. White Water Rafting.

Thank you god... for giving me life....