The Leopard Sang in Ba’Kelalan

During my early days in Tourism, Sarawak had a promotional poster which I could never make sense out of it.

I have always wondered what the message the poster wanted to deliver when it says “The Leopard Sang in Sarawak “.

I just could not make any sense of it. Maybe I could not see that a leopard’s roar would sound like a song to a foreign visitor to Sarawak.

Early tourism promotional poster of Sarawak.

Like many things in life, perhaps the time was not right for me and I was not ready for it’s meaning until just recently when I went to Ba’Kelalan.

Only then I realised that this is probably a sign that appeared to me years back, only to realise that it would be an encounter later in my life.

Acrylic on canvas of Julia Sang Homestay Ba’Kelalan.

Little did I realise that in early October 2017, this would come full circle.

I was assigned to I travel to Ba’Kelalan with two other Journalist and we put up at one of the homestays, Julia Sang Homestay, which was about 15 minutes walk from Ba’Kelalan airport.

The view from the dining room of Julia Sang Homestay.

As I entered the house I was immediately attracted to the framed drawings on the walls around the house.

Blue Wreathed Hornbill

Each sketched drawings of animals and plants were extremely detailed. From the feathers of the bird, the eyes of the bird were so beautifully done as if it was printed.

Hornbill and Woodpecker sketch.

To be honest, I love art and I do a bit of art myself but this was completely insane I thought to myself. I wouldn’t be able to do it as I have very little patience with detailing the whole picture.

Hornbill Pair

I looked around and yes there was a few more sketches of Hornbills. Each one so finely detailed.

Off all the sketches that hung on the wall, there was one sketch of a clouded leopard.

Clouded Leopard.

This in my opinion was the main star. Throughout my stay there, this I admired most.

That is until I met the creator of this lovely art, the humble Mr Sang.

Cikgu Sang showing us his uncompleted leopard sketch

Mr Sang is an english at the local primary school, Sekolah Kebangsaan Ba’Kelalan which is about 15 minutes walk from his house. He is fondly known as Cikgu (Teacher) Sang amongst the people of Ba’Kelalan.

“I am self taught and I have had exhibitions before showcasing my art” Cikgu Sang explained.

According to him, some of his art is being kept somewhere in a national art gallery and he only have print copies of his work.

He then took one of his unfinished work of a leopard and showed it to us. We all gasped at it’s beauty. Crazy stuff.

Up close shot of the work in progress leopard sketch.

I could not help but to gasp in astonishment at the detailing of the leopard. I told cikgu Sang that his work is wicked and insane to the maximum to which he responded with a chuckle followed by a burst of laughter.

“I always begin with the eyes ” he said. “If I don’t get that right, I won’t continue. No point. It is the eyes that are the focal point”

I told cikgu Sang that I do a bit of art but mine is way less detailed compared to his. I don’t have the patience for such detailing.

Another hornbill by Cikgu Sang

Detailing is very important for him according to cikgu Sang.

“Most people do not realise that it is the smaller details that makes the overall picture great”

“Just like in life and in society” he continued to explain. “Always at awe at ones big achievements, it is the painstaking attention to small things that probably contributed to the success”

Asked if that was his message he wanted to give his audience, he quickly nodded in agreement.

“Yes of course, I just want to remind people that the smaller things in life are equally important to the bigger ones”

Cikgu Sang ponders on his next art.

So there I was, nodding in agreement, silent and smiling at cikgu Sang.

Thank you cikgu Sang for this reminder. I’m grateful indeed.

You have made me find a life lesson in my “bejalai”, the journey of my becoming, a lesson that I shall bring with me in my next wander.

While chasing the bigger dream, do not forget to appreciate little things in life

I am looking forward to revisiting them both again soon, the lovely Julia and the artsy humble Cikgu Sang. Hopefully he would have finished the leopard sketch and I look forward to be blown away by it’s detailing while enjoying the best home made cupcakes of Julia.

But for now, I finally understand, yes indeed, the leopard sang in Sarawak.

Go and see for your self.

Thank you for reading and looking forward to your comments.

For more information about Cikgu Sang, you can check his Facebook profile here.

For tours to Ba’kelalan, you can visit Heart of Borneo Tours website.

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