This is the 50th year of Sarawak in Malaysia and in this day and age of technology, it amazes me a great deal to know how little Malaysians and others know about the East Malaysian states, Sabah and Sarawak. In fact, at times, I get the impression that some think that Malaysia is West or Peninsula Malaysia alone and we’re a completely different country altogether.
A friend of mine shared his experience in Facebook about how he went to get something done over at the other side and a few days after he came back to Sarawak, he had a call from an officer there telling him that the forms were ready and he would have to go to the office to sign them. He told her that he had come back to Sarawak and she asked, “Bila encik akan datang ke Malaysia lagi?” (When are you coming to Malaysia again?)
Some of you may recall the frustrations I had had with people in the ministry deciding to hold something and fixing the schedules according to their whims and fancies and letting us know at the last minute…and worse, they may just change their minds and the dates anytime they feel like it, like the time when Melissa was about to leave for New Zealand for her studies. For one thing, it is more expensive for us to purchase air tickets at such short notice and we will have to pay through our noses to get our bookings changed (so much so that some people will just throw away the tickets and make fresh bookings). They seem to think that we are all in the peninsula and we can just hop on a bus or catch a train…or drive on their very nice highways anytime we like to get to where we need to go. Sometimes, I really feel like telling them, “Encik, tahu tak – ada laut di antara kita…Laut Cina Selatan!” Surely they do not expect us to swim over! Tsk! Tsk!
Anyway, I am from Sibu – a small town in the central region of the state of Sarawak…
…along the Rejang River, the longest in Malaysia. If you look at the map, there to the north-east lie the Sultanate of Brunei and the state of Sabah. The Philippines would be to the north of the latter. You can also see the duty-free island – the Federal Territory of Labuan in the map, off the coast of Sabah.
And if you look at the little map in the top left hand corner, Malaysia is coloured green with Sabah and Sarawak to the north of the island of Borneo and Peninsula Malaysia to the south of Thailand (orange in colour). Singapore is there across the causeway at the southern tip of the peninsula but I guess it is too small to be seen.
To get to Sibu, you can fly direct via MAS from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (1 flight a day) or Air Asia from the LCCT (6 flights or more a day) in Sepang…or you can fly from JB (Senai, if I am not mistaken) via Air Asia – there is a flight every day from there. Otherwise, if you fly here from Singapore, you will have to stop in transit in Kuching…
*The State Assembly Building across the Sarawak River in Kuching*
I’m not too sure of the specific flights but I think you can use MAS, Air Asia, Tiger…and I think, Silk Air as well. Then you have a choice between MAS (or MasWings – depending on the time of day) or Air Asia to fly to Sibu, the Swan City…
It is not actually a city – just a town but it has its charm and beauty and attractions of its own…
*A glimpse at Sibu town centre from a distance*
You can read in this post here or this one perhaps…and all the rest by friends of mine or other bloggers who have been to Sibu that it is indeed worth a visit. Of course, if you are into the nightlife – all the clubbing and the boozing and all the girlie bars, perhaps you should just head on to Bali or go north to Thailand (though there may be a sprinkling of those here but I wouldn’t know as I do not go to such places, not anymore.)…or if you are into theme parks and casinos, we do not have those here either. The main attractions here would be the food – you will find a lot that you cannot get elsewhere…and the way of life, the whole identity or image of the town which is so different from those in the peninsula with the influences by the large population of Malays and Indians there. I would say that Sibu is quintessentially Chinese – there are Chinese characters in the road and shop signs and everywhere…quite unlike the towns and cities on the other side of the South China Sea.
Perhaps you would like to venture to one of the smaller towns – an hour or two away by car. I would suggest Kanowit which is different in its own way, instead of Bintangor or Sarikei as these too are more Chinese…like smaller versions of Sibu so it may not be worth the effort of going all the way there.
And of course, ask anyone who has been here before – it’s the company that matters most…and with me here, you can be sure that I will go out of my way to make sure that you will not regret your trip here and it would be definitely worth the while…so much so that you will want to come again and again and again!