Friday, September 2, 2011

Mukah

Mukah was the last stop for our roadtrip starting from Sibu. We were off from Dalat around 5:45 pm, and took 35 minutes to cover 35 km of journey.

Mukah is a town where the town's border is drawn along the seashore and Mukah river. Mukah has a humble start as a small fishing village, which then served as an outpost for the sultanate of Brunei. It is not a big town yet, but the development is vast. The reason- it is a part of SCORE (Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy).

The attraction of Mukah is at it's old town area, where the nice seafood restaurants, kopitiam, fish market, local market, and many of the hotels are gathered within walking distance (20 minutes the most from each others). With two markets located side by side, harbour for fisherman and the stalls for the local delicacies and eateries all clustered together, the old town area is somewhere that you should not miss. Fish sold at Mukah Fish Market are fresh, and what we should not miss- the fish for umai. Umai is a traditional Melanau dish where fresh fish is sliced and mixed with lime, onion, and a little bit of chili (chili is optional).

After a night stay at Kingwood Hotel, we took our breakfast at the eateries beside the fish market. Then, we moved around the markets for about an hour, and carried away some fresh fish, sliced fish for umai, some tebaloi (traditional sago biscuit), and a terap (local fruit).

The last wooden shops in old town area. The rest, ash to ash, dust to dust, due to the fire outbreaks.

The old town area.

Unlike the mysterious Labuan Chimney, this Mukah's chimney served as a part of sago production factory, which once generated handsome revenue for the local Melanau chieftains. However, as the price of the sago powder dropped sharply, the factory was abandoned, so did the chimney. The chimney can be seen at the old town, beside Mukah River.

The fish at the market is supplied by the small fishing boat, which will return a few times a day to unload the catch (9 am, 12 pm, and 4 pm, if not mistaken). The harbour is just right outside of the market. So, if you want to get a fresher fish, you need to go and catch it by youself :)

Two fishing boats are approaching the harbour, with some of the fish vendors awaiting at the harbour for possible deals.

We can see the village opposite of Mukah River. Small motorboats are the main commuters for the villagers.

Mukah fish market might be smaller than many other fish markets. But, when we talk about fish business, the freshness, which Mukah fish market outmatched the rest, counts.

These are the creatures that swam in the sea few hours ago...

Mukah's local market is the place that we can find many local products, with local price. The market is located adjacent to the fish market.

Giant banana that can fill up a meal (upper left) and exotic sago worms sold with RM 5 per small basket (upper right). Buah terap is authentic Borneon fruit. We never thought we could find one in Mukah as the fruit is rarely found nowadays.

Small stalls selling local sago products, cakes, snacks, and other dried seafood products are available beside the local market. Tebaloi, the well-known Mukah's keropok ikan and keropok udang are something that you should try.

Black Liberica coffee, tea, panggang (coal roasted glutinous rice), you-tiao, and fresh buns made a perfect breakfast at Mukah. The eateries are located just beside the fish market.

A scene at the eateries for breakfast. We can see the fish market on the left, outside of the eateries.

The new township of Mukah with many modern concrete buildings. The district office of Mukah can be seen at far left. Many fast food chains and supermarkets are available in the new town area (which were not our interest).

Another scene at the new town area. The old town buildings can be seen on the far left.

The mosque with the domes with the motif of Melanau's hat is a symbolic of the dominancy of the Melanau ethnic resides in this area. Other ethnics are Chinese, Iban and Malay.

Trees are well blended into the landscape of the new town area.

Kingwood Hotel is the place that we stayed. The three star hotel is clean, well maintained, and has a good location at the middle of the town. The restaurant was empty due to the Ramadhan month (lower left). We were charged RM 88 per night for the twin bed room with aircond and flat screen (lower right).

On our way back to Sibu, we stop by Kingwood Resort Mukah for a while. The resort located 15 minutes away from the town area, which for us, is the down side. However, the hotel might be a good place for a retreat as it is just by the sea with very nice and quiet surrounding.

Almost forgotten to mention the seafood at Mukah. The price for the seafood is really cheap. We got the deal of RM 18 for 1 kg of crab and RM 10 for a whole full plate of umai for our dinner on our first night at Mukah. The restaurant, Medan Seafood, is just around 200 meters away from our hotel (same row with Kingwood Hotel). Our way back to Sibu took us almost 2 hours with 180 km. The route- the one that had been indicated in Google Map.

These are some of the Hotels in Mukah town area:
      -Kingwood Hotel, Mukah (middle of the town, opposite of the mosque)
      Tel: +6084-87 4996; Rate: Can be as low as RM 88 at non-peak season.
      -King Ing Hotel (Old town area, quite isolated at the side of the river)
      Tel: +6084-871403; Rate: Starting from RM65.
      -Golden Inn (Same row with Kingwood Hotel)
      -Hotel Seri Umpang (Old town area, opposite of the markets)
      Tel: +6084-87 1888; Rate: Call to confirm.
      -Mandarin Hotel (Old town area, opposite of the markets)
      Tel: +6084-872688; Rate: Starting from RM 45
      -Kingwood Resort, Mukah is a little bit isolated. But it won't be a problem if you have your own transport.
      Tel: +6084-87 4996; Rate: Can be as low as RM 129 at non-peak season.

Mukah is now inter-connected with the major cities of Sarawak with public transportations, such as commuter buses and airplane.

What to expect in Mukah?
  • Mukah fish market and local market at old town area.
  • Fresh fish, fruits, sago worm, terap, and other local products.
  • Nice and cheap seafood at seafood restaurant.
For more information about Mukah, you can visit:



Take a look on our sharing about other places in Sarawak:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Matu-Daro to Dalat

Second stop, Daro, 60 km from Tanjung Manis, and we took 2 hours 15 minutes. The duration of the trip was much longer than what we had expected, for we had to take 2 ferries. First ferry was nice with 15 minutes crossing. The second at Muara Lassa (Delta of Lassa) almost got us killed by waiting. Strong current and wide river were the culprits. It took us 1 hour 20 minutes to complete our crossing.

A ferry is approaching the ferry point (upper left). Sign board at the ferry point, stating the operation and the fees of using the ferry service (upper right). All the vehicles are required to line up at the ferry point (lower left), where one or two small stalls were set up by the locals for business. The stall owners are mostly Melanau.

Our advice is, while we were waiting for the ferries, why don't we take a close examination on the river bank and we would see these small creatures. Mudskipper- the fish that can live on the ground for hours (left) and small crabs.

A scene on the ferry.

Cars are disembarking from the ferry.

Daro is a small town by the river of Daro, with a population of 20-30 k. The name Daro is quite similiar to a UNESCO heritage site- Mohenjo Daro in Pakistan :p Unlike the mightly Igan or Rejang River, Daro River is small. Daro Town consists of two rows of very old wooden shops by the side of the river, and a few rows of concrete shops behind the wooden shops. Across the small river (probably 30 feet wide) is the residential kampung (village), which most of the houses are made by wood.

Two rows of old wooden shops by Daro River (upper row). Community fire brigade is located just beside Daro River (lower left). A closer look on the old shops reveals that the whole structure is in fact made by wood, except the roof.

Although road is built connecting the town folks to the outer world (upper left), boats are remain as one of the major transports for them. Water garage for the private speed boats can be seen along the river (upper right), while Hospital Daro has their speed boat unit ready to serve (lower right). A small bridge linking the people on the opposite side of the river was built at the end of the small town.

Upper row shows the newer Daro township with concrete buildings, located just behind the old wooden shops (if we come by road, we will see the concrete shops first). The petrol station is really simple (lower left). The fish and the tiled walkway are parts of a small garden by the river.

Pasar Ramadhan was held in Daro, during our visit. A youngster was showing off his skill while waiting for the break of fasting.

Roasted chicken for break-fast? That's the least that we can get from Daro Town. We bought some kuih-muih, rendang chicken, and umai before leaving the town for our next stop- Matu.

Our third stop, Matu, approximately 30 km away from Daro. We took 20 minutes to reach Matu from Daro. Matu is a really small town (a village should be more appropriate), with the center of 2 rows of wooden shops.

The modern-look concrete buildings for the police station (left) and the district council (right) gave us a feeling of "out-of-syn" in the small town of Matu.

Matu Town is really small, with two rows of wooden shops (upper row). The clinic of Matu is situated in a kampung house building (lower left). We met several kings of the road when we were leaving Matu Town. What else can we do other than to give way to the moo-moo?

To reach our fourth stop at Kampung Igan (Igan Village), we had to cross Igan River for the second time, using ferry (the first crossing was through the Igan Bridge at the very beginning of our trip). That was the third and the last ferry that we had to take. The ferry didn't keep us waiting. We took 20 minutes for the crossing. LS's father used to teach at SK Kampung Igan, about 30 years ago. During the time, the village was accessible only by the river.

We were greeted by a group of monkeys at Matu's ferry point. One of them showed its dissapointment upon the no-animal-onboard policy (left). However, one swallow had been given the VIP pass to sit on the ferry for the crossing, without labouring its wing :p

The old wooden building of SK Kampung Igan was abandoned, and replaced by several concrete buildings at about 300 meters away. To our surprise, some of the workers and parents at the school were able to recognize LS's father, with little hints given. They were the students of the school 30 years ago, grown up, trained, and then went back to Daro to work. They told us that some of the students at his time are now very successful in their life. That's a great news for a teacher.

Houses at Kampung Igan (upper row). The old school building has been abandoned (lower left), replaced by new concrete buildings (lower right).

Photo taken in front of SK Kampung Igan.

We took 30 minutes to cover another 25 km from Kampung Igan to Oya. The small town (or should be considered as a village) has a total 3 rows of wooden shops along the road. The population, the most, few hundreds. We make a quick stop at Oya, just to answer to the call of nature.

The shops at Oya Town (upper row), which the wooden shops on the upper right is authentically unstable, which is not caused by the wide angle distortion. Oya Town is located beside Oya River (lower left), with a small school SJK Yak Tee sits right in the middle of the town. Construction to build a new township is now in progress about one km away from the old town.

Our photo beside the main road of Oya Town.

Our sixth stop was Dalat. LS and his parents own some memories of Dalat. Dalat turned up to be the resting point for LS's parents to travel from Narub to Sibu,  many many years back, when his parents were teaching in San San Primary School in Narub.

Dalat has developed much, and it's totally different from it's old days. The old wooden shops were replaced by concrete buildings, and the whole town were beautified and well landscaped. It is hard to imagine that right in the middle of the Borneo jungle, a small town like Dalat can emerge, survive the emigration, and grow through the time. From the talk with old friends (didn't meet for more than 25 years, but still able to recognize each others. Strange, isn't it?), more development are coming, and the business is getting better.

The Chinese temple (upper left), the village on the opposite of Oya River (yes, Dalat and Oya Town shared the same river, upper right), and the green petrol station (lower left) are still remained on their old locations. However, new shops are emerging in the surrounding area, thanks to the effort of the local government.

This nicely landscaped garden was where the old wooden shoplots previously stand (photo is not well-joint using panorama setting). The old shoplots were turned into ashes, caught by fire many years ago. However, the curse of fire had turned into the reborn of the town, like the arising of the phoenix through the inferno flame.

Photo session at the garden.

The reunion of the really old friends (no joke) after more than 25 years aparted. We have a promise to keep- to meet them again in future. This was the coffee house that LS and his parents used to visit 25 years ago, same owner, but difference location.

We stayed at Dalat for more than an hour, tried to pick up old memories catching the latest development. After a drink with the old friends, we set off to Mukah. Mukah was the final destination of the day, roughly 35 km from Dalat, and we took around 30 minutes to reach Mukah.

What to expect in Matu-Daro, Kampung Igan, and Oya-Dalat?
  • Small towns. Populated by different races- Melanau, Chinese, Iban, Malay, and other natives.
  • Some nice food- rendang chicken and umai from Daro. Nice tea and coffee at Dalat.
  • Daro and Dalat are the bigger town with more shops, and probably a better place to rest. Matu, Kampung Igan and Oya are small, with only 2 - 3 row of shops.
  • The ferry service at Matu stops after 6 pm and will resume early the next day morning.
For more information about these places, please visit:

We headed to Mukah, our last stop for the day.



Take a look on our sharing about other places in Sarawak:

Tanjung Manis

We have just completed our roadtrip, from Sibu to Mukah using Sarawak Coastal Road, and had passed through the several small towns like Tanjung Manis, Daro, Matu, Kampung Igan, Oya, and Dalat. This roadtrip was made possible, upon the completion of Sarawak Coastal Road, around two years ago. With the wide distribution of rivers branching through the land, we went through many bridges and 3 ferries that connect the places, which some of them, never before been connected to civilization through land. Tanjung Manis is the first stop of our roadtrip with our family members.

Some of these places are so seclusive that they are not even shown in Google Maps. The green lines indicate the route for our roadtrip (of course, the road won't be so straight), which are not yet been indicated in Google Map. To go to Tanjung Manis from Sibu, we need to cross Igan Bridge. Then, follow the signs and we won't get lost. From Mukah back to Sibu, we followed the road indicated in Google Maps (orange curves).

Most of the area are not populated, as what we could see out of the window. Houses and people are rare here, and most of the time, we travelled with zero connection for our handphones.

From Sibu, our first stop was Tanjung Manis. In one hour time, we travelled 80 km by crossing 7 major bridges- Igan Bridge, Lebaan Bridge, Lengan Bridge, Setubah Bridge, Serdeng Bridge, Loba Pulau Bridge, and Belawai Bridge. These bridges were built with great engineering skills, cutting through the swarmpy area at the delta of two great rivers- Rejang River and Igan River. The second bridge, Lebaan Bridge with a total length of 1.24 km, is the longest river-crossing bridge in Malaysia.

Lebaan Bridge from a distance away.

Upper row shows the condition of the bridges. A scene at the highest point of Lebaan Bridge (lower left), high above Lebaan River. Nipah trees are common at  the banks of the rivers.

Tanjung Manis is emerging as an important place in Sarawak, which might turn out to become next modern industrial hub in Sarawak. Now, the construction across the area is in full swing. Airport had been built (One trip per day on Mas Wing), seaport building is in progress, and power supply will be backed by Bakun Dam. Everything is done based on Sarawak Government Master plan, to turn the area from a small settlement into mega halal food industrial hub, which is a part of Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).

Kompleks Lembaga Kemajuan Ikan Malaysia (LKIM) is the landmark for Tanjung Manis. Maybe, not for long.

Nice quarters for the workers at Tanjung Manis.

Harbour of Tanjung Manis, serves as the transportation terminal for the locals (upper row). The express boats are the major river transports for the locals (lower left). We can see many of these express boats at Sibu harbour too. The terminal is ready with open space waiting rooms equipped with ample chairs (lower right).

A souvenir shop and a cafe is available in the terminal (upper row). Hard wood furniture and some of the local handicrafts available for sale (lower row). Anyway, due to the low supply and low demand, the price of the items on sell is higher than other places. For food, there are several cafes and coffee shops just a few hundred steps away from the terminal, serving more variety of food and drinks.

Some of the locals are fishing at the harbour. They are friendly and talkative.

Panorama view of the shops from the terminal of Tanjung Manis.

The shops at Tanjung Manis. Many of the shops have been converted into swallow houses.

Airport of Tanjung Manis at Belawai, is around 15 minutes away from the harbour.

The development plan for Tanjung Manis is displayed at the airport. Better plan are available at hdcglobal.com.

What to expect in Tanjung Manis?
  • A simple small town with very few people.
  • Several shoplots have been converted into shallow houses, with loud shallow luring sound.
  • Lorries and trucks for constructions.
  • The most attractive buildings are the small harbour, the airport, and the complex of Malaysian Fishery Board (LKIM).
For more information about Tanjung Manis, please visit:
Our trip continued with our next stop at Daro.



Take a look on our sharing about other places in Sarawak: