It has been three years since I moved to Kuching, and for the first two years I didn't go back to my hometown, Lawas, to celebrate the rice harvest festival - Irau Aco Lun Bawang (translate the Lun Bawang Fest).
My stay in Kuching has brought me to experience my first ever Gawai Dayak celebration - both urban and village style. Back in 2007, Sarawak hosts the National-Level Gawai Dayak open house and I didn't miss the chance to see it myself. It was undeniably a grand occassion, even the prime minister and the Agong (King) was invited.
On the other hand, Irau Aco Lun Bawang is uniquely different compared to the Gawai Dayak. It is more about the Lun Bawang itself. Thousands of Lun Bawang from the district of Lawas and other various places such as Brunei, Indonesia and Sabah will be gathering in the small city of Lawas.
This 3-days fest showcases much more comprehensive events like the Bamboo Band performances, traditional music performance, traditional dance, traditional sporting competition, handicraft exhibition and tradisional costume beauty contest. Also not to forget the modern sports competition like football, badminton, volleyball, golf, etc. and also Lun Bawang music band performance.
The irau this year has marked a history in my life. It happened to be my first involvement in the irau's activities, representing Lun Bawang Kuching football team.
Although being in the team is something so exciting but it isn't any honeymoon either, running around the pitch for 15-minutes under the unforgiving hot sun in the same time making an attempt to outclass your opponent is indeed a very big challenge.
Wait... Only 15 minutes?!!
Yes, I spend most of my time on the bench cheering my mates but I can consider myself lucky too, I was given the chance to give a shot in the final match. Being a substitute, I know that I only have 50% chance to play and it's kind of a emotional experience.
After I was introduced into the pitch, I started to feel the heat of the game and the sun as well. The weather was so hot until the saliva in my mouth dried up!! To think of my mates who got fried up for 90-minutes, I can't complain much when they slacked up a bit and became sloppy. It was just unbearable.
In the game, I've just managed to do few passes and runs, and I even almost scored the winning goal in the final minutes. In fact I've screwed it up, I should have just pass the ball to the striker who is well positioned for a shot on goal.
I was hoping for a great "debut" as the like of Fedrico Macheda where he scored the injury time winning goal for Manchester United. Lesson learned, make sure you're good enough to perform an action before you execute it, which also means - MORE PRACTICE.
The game ended up with 1-1 and then proceeded to penalty shoot-out. This time, luck isn't on our side, we lose the penalty shoot-out by 4-2.
Despite of the lose another history was made. For the past 10 years, Lun Bawang Kuching never reached the final stage. What to say bringing a cup back to Kuching?
This year, we reached the final and brought a smaller cup. Next year, we aim bigger - lifting the championship cup.