I've always complained about my life. Many times I asked myself, 'why is life so unfair?' I guess I found the answer at last - life is not fair and will never be fair. There seems to be purpose to the intrinsic inequality of life after all. But then again I just wanna live my life to the fullest. Nothing more, nothing less. There are so many wonderful things I want to do. I'm still searching for true happiness. Everybody wants peace, joy, to be happy and have real fun! It's easier said that done. LOL! Nevertheless, life can be beautiful and I found it at Aboriginal Cultural Carnival.

Earlier I received a Facebook invitation to visit Aboriginal Cultural Carnival at Muzium Orang Asli in Gombak, Kuala Lumpur (KL). At first, I wanted to reject the invitation. Just click 'NO'. I need some weekend rest badly. But it's an event not to be missed. During the last two years, I've met numerous aboriginal tribes in Peninsular Malaysia - from Cameron Highlands, Pahang to Mount Nuang, Selangor. Their smiles made my day. Everyone is always so friendly and pleasant to interact with.

Many times I have asked myself: How can they achieve happiness despite living in such social and economic conditions. It puzzled me. Sometimes I wish I could trade places with them. Back to the story...I decided to check out this carnival. My very first aboriginal carnival.

I had high expectations. According to the carnival activities, visitors were encouraged to participate in traditional aboriginal cooking demo, cultural dance, musical performances, games (such as blow pipe) and many more. The event was held at Muzium Orang Asli (translation: Aboriginal Museum) right next to Orang Asli Affairs Department (JHEOA) hospital.

As usual, I was one of the earliest visitors. The organizers and Orang Asli were putting the final touches to the event. So here I am...waiting for the official launching by the Director General of Jabatan Hal Ehwal Orang Asli (JHEOA). Halfway strolling down an aisle, I was stopped by an officer. He asked me:

"You dari mana?"
(Translation: Where are you from?")

I was asked that same question many times. DUH! I don't want to sound rude. Is it really important? This is a public event. Anyone is welcome to join...RIGHT? Now, don't get me wrong. Overall my host was excellent and made the whole experience very enjoyable. The staffs were wonderful and I felt completely comfortable from the moment I arrived. I was even introduced to the Chief Curator of the Museum, event manager and many other VIPs. WOW! I ENJOY basking under the limelight and LOVE the gracious hospitality. You don't see this very often in KL, Malaysia.

That's all for now. I still have PLENTY of photos and videos to share with you. Stay tuned for PART 2 for more exclusive shots and in-depth travelogue.

Location: Muzium Orang Asli, Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Date: July 31st 2010 (Saturday), 8:52 a.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 [36mm f/5.3 manual 200 ISO 1/100 sec]

What looks like a simple shot, turns out to be a challenging picture to set up! I wanted to snap an up close and personal shot showing her hands mixing a pile of meat with spices. But she removed her hands whenever I zoom in my lens. LOL! I repeated to her many times: "I want your hands in the picture". At last she understood. We laughed our heads off. WAKAKA!

Location: Muzium Orang Asli, Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Date: July 31st 2010 (Saturday), 9:48 a.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 [38mm f/5.6 manual 100 ISO 1/125 sec]

Breakfast and lunch ala Orang Asli (translation: Aboriginal people). The cooking demo was an eye-opener for anyone who loves food and those who haven't been exposed to the world of Malaysian aboriginal cooking. I've spent almost two hours observing the aboriginal elders preparing delicious indigenous delicacies.

In this picture: 'Ikan salai' aka smoked fish. These frankly ugly specimens were smoked for about an hour, turn out to be deliciously moist, meaty and fragrant, as fine as any imported mackerel. A dish served best hot with bamboo rice.

Location: Muzium Orang Asli, Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Date: July 31st 2010 (Saturday), 8:51 a.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 [20mm f/5.0 manual 200 ISO 1/100 sec]

Looks like a lemang, smells like a lemang. These are bamboo goodies - with sweet potatoes, chicken meat, spices and natural chicken stock. Y.U.M.M.Y!

Location: Muzium Orang Asli, Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Date: July 31st 2010 (Saturday), 9:54 a.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 [55mm f/5.6 manual 250 ISO 1/500 sec]

A cook flipping the smoked fish to ensure even cooking.

When the fish is about 70% cooked, flip it over and cook it the rest of the way through. Sprinkle some of the cooking oil over the top to add an extra crispness to the skin. LOL! I sound like Jamie Oliver :)

Location: Muzium Orang Asli, Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Date: July 31st 2010 (Saturday), 1:57 p.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 [26mm f/4.2 manual 500 ISO 1/500 sec]

It was another hot and muggy day in Selangor! I was sweating like a pig. This is an open stage at the museum. By afternoon, I was getting tired. Luckily, the traditional aboriginal dances were exciting and kind of hip hop in a way :) I LOVE the music. Beautiful tunes created with simple musical instruments such as hollow bamboo sticks.

Location: Muzium Orang Asli, Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Date: July 31st 2010 (Saturday), 1:40 p.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 [55mm f/5.6 manual 800 ISO 1/250 sec]

An aboriginal elder from Temiar tribe playing bamboo musical instruments for traditional Sewang dance. If you look at the picture carefully, you'll notice a state of intense concentration of energy and absorption. I called it 'Deeply Tranced'. Check out my YouTube videos for more.

Location: Muzium Orang Asli, Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Date: July 31st 2010 (Saturday), 11:21 a.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 [55mm f/5.6 manual 800 ISO 1/320 sec]

A photo of a male aboriginal dancer from Mah Meri tribe in Carey Island, Selangor. Their legends and myths are expressed through dance and song, as well as through elaborate costumes. Did you noticed? He looks like the extra-terrestrial warrior from Predator :)

Malaysian indigenous dance usually varies from one tribe to the next. The one thing these dances have in common is the elaborate costuming presented with each dance. Each costume is as distinct as the dancer.

Location: Muzium Orang Asli, Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Date: July 31st 2010 (Saturday), 11:19 a.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 [38mm f/5.3 manual 800 ISO 1/400 sec]

According to Asiaexplorers, Mah Meri Mask Dance, called Mayin Jo-oh, is a traditional dance performed by the Mah Meri tribe of Orang Asli in Malaysia. The dance is performed to invite the ancestral spirits, or muyang, to join in the festivity. In this dance, the performers wear grotesque masks and perform with movements and gestures to relate everyday events such as fishing and celebrations.

There would be two male dancers and five female dancers. The male dancers are the ones wearing the mask. The masks worn in the Mah Meri Mask Dance depict the spirits of birds and other animals that inhabit the Mah Meri's surroundings, such as the swamp and the sea. The female dances wear skirts of mengkuang leaves and plaited mengkuang head dress.

The female performers dance anti-clockwise around an earthen mound, called a busot, while the male masked dancers performed clockwise around the women. The dance is performed accompanied by the music from the tuntog (bamboo stampers), jule (viola), tambo (double-headed drum) and a-tawa (brass gong). Accompanying the dance is a vocalist who will render out ritual songs.

Location: Muzium Orang Asli, Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Date: July 31st 2010 (Saturday), 11:04 a.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 [26mm f/4.2 manual 640 ISO 1/500 sec]

This is one of the most energetic dances. It was LOUD and JUMPY :) An excellent show from Sali Babola Cultural Group.

Location: Muzium Orang Asli, Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Date: July 31st 2010 (Saturday), 11:04 a.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 [18mm f/3.5 manual 450 ISO 1/500 sec]

The crowd was just SO SHOCKED that they erupted into applause only five seconds later. This picture reminds me of Micheal Greyeyes - a renowned actor, dancer, director, and choreographer from Canada.

In a Canadian magazine article, Michael wrote: "It is said the drum is the beat of Mother Earth, and we dance in sync with the Earth's rhythms. A dancer's heart also beats with the drum…When we hear the drum and see the dancers, each step reminds us that at this moment, past and present are linked."

Location: Muzium Orang Asli, Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Date: July 31st 2010 (Saturday), 10:48 a.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 [40mm f/5.3 manual 200 ISO 1/80 sec]

I walked to the backstage and stumbled upon a group of dancers waiting for their next performance. Dealing up close with camera-shy indigenous people is REALLY difficult!

I assumed they were afraid to have their spirit stolen. But when I asked them if this was the case, they laughed and said, No, we just doesn't like to have our picture taken. I've felt the same way many times myself, so I realized that being camera-shy is just as prevalent in other cultures as it is here in Malaysia :)

Location: Muzium Orang Asli, Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Date: July 31st 2010 (Saturday), 9:45 a.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 [34mm f/5.6 manual 100 ISO 1/125 sec]

I LOVE photographing kids! Beautiful innocent look, natural expression and raw complexion.

Location: Muzium Orang Asli, Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Date: July 31st 2010 (Saturday), 11:06 a.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 [55mm f/6.3 manual 100 ISO 1/160 sec]

LOL! This kiddo was following me all over the carnival. I decided to snap a close-up shot. He posed for me with his treasured binoculars :)

Location: Muzium Orang Asli, Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Date: July 31st 2010 (Saturday), 11:45 a.m.
Camera: Nikon D60 [55mm f/8.0 manual 100 ISO 1/250 sec]

A long line of eager photographers waited patiently at the backstage. The dancers were happy to oblige and many of them seemed particularly eager to pose...after much coaxing :)


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Last updated August 4th 2010 (12:52 a.m.)

Aboriginal Carnival 2010 - My YouTube Videos:


Click HERE for complete playlist (Part 1 - Part 5)

8 comments

  1. fufu Says:
  2. oh i enjoy the videos very much!!!! love the folk songs :) and the dance XD oh... and i wanna eat the food!!! so smoky!!! :p yeah i love snapping kids too :) mah meri mask is nice... we should promote our orang asli culture!!!!!!! oh i love the carnival! but gotta wait until 2012 to see everything myself there ><

     
  3. micki Says:
  4. Native culture from different regions or countries is my favorite subject! I am so glad to see Malaysian native culture from your blog. The dancers' costumes (the grass part)are similar to the Polynesia's in the South Pacific, especially the grass hats. However, the music is a bit similar to the native in Taiwan. It is very amazing to see the similarities from different roots. The mask part reminds me the native in the South America.

     
  5. lechua Says:
  6. oohhh i would have loved witnessing the carnival and culture and photographing the ppl in action! do u know if it's a yearly event? or when they're having another carnival like that?

     
  7. Shelyn Says:
  8. I think I have been to the Orang Asli Museum in Gombak. It is located in kind of secluded area right? But surprisingly a lot of tourists from other countries have visited there before, based on the comments in the guest book there.

    The food reminds me of Laos food. Did you have a chance to try some?

     
  9. shloke Says:
  10. fufu,

    The aboriginal cultural carnival is a spectacle you'll not want to miss. A beautiful annual event. See you in 2012, fufu!

    Micki,

    WOW! You're a well traveled person :)

    I also LOVE native cultures. Simple, beautiful and unique lifestyles.

    lechua,

    It's an annual carnival. You should visit the official website of Department of Orang Asli Affairs Malaysia for more updates = http://www.jheoa.gov.my or be a fan of my Facebook page :)

    Shelyn,

    Yeah, kind of difficult finding the place. I've tried the bamboo chicken rice. Taste kind of OK - need more ingredients...perhaps a few dashes of Ajinamoto :) The smoked fish is a favorite. Gone in less than 10 minutes!

    Cheers all!

     
  11. Rafael Lam Says:
  12. This Aboriginal Cultural Carnival is great!
    I agree with you, life is beautiful!

     
  13. The mask got one missing front tooth?!
    Did you notice that?

    Wow, they used ikan tilapia to make smoked fish!
    I want to try it.
    I love steamed tilapia with lots of chilli and garlic. The Nyonya style?

     
  14. shloke Says:
  15. Rafael,

    Life is more than beautiful :)

    londoncaller,

    Yeah, I noticed that. I think they did it on purpose. Making it more gruesome :)

    WOW! You must be a fisher! The smoked tilapia fish is the hottest food item. Gone in 20 minutes! I LOVE anything SPICY. Nyonya steamed fish??? GIVE IT TO ME! :)

    Cheers!

     
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shloke
Traveling & photography are the most rewarding & enriching experiences in my life. Photography is all about discovery, enjoying myself, having adventure, learning people & nature. The greatest experience for me is the connection I felt with NATURE. If you haven’t seen Malaysia, you haven’t seen the world! My photography works are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported.
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