May 18, 2003
This year is a good time to visit Sarawak as it's celebrating 40 years since becoming part of Malaysia
. If you visit any tourist office they can fill you in on the host of activities that are scheduled this year - I'd really like to go to the Rainforest Music Festival in July but alas I shall be back in Peninsular Malaysia by then. In 2005 Miri is holding celebrations of its own (but I have not found out why yet) and they will hopefully have finished the new waterfront that is being built on a vast stretch of reclaimed land. This new development is an impressive engineering project that will effectively double the size of the waterfront to meet the expected rise in tourism.
Many people from Brunei hop across the border to Miri for a cheap getaway, similar to Singaporeans coming over to Johor Bahru for a cheap meal or shopping trip. Next destination is Brunei tomorrow (heading for the capital), which is a nightmare to get to via bus (two changes and a couple of ferry crossings). It is not always guaranteed that you get there the same day that you set off even though it is just over 100km away!
Cities in Sarawak never cease to amaze me. I was impressed with the architecture and waterfront plazas/hotels in Kuching and didn't think anywhere else in Sarawak would be as developed. Miri, although smaller, is just as nice as Kuching (although my guide book stated that Miri had seen better days). It boasts one of the best open public spaces I have seen anywhere in Malaysia. The Miri City Fan is a new park development that has several tastefully themed gardens with fountains and a huge square amphitheatre (where they hold aerobics classes in the late afternoon). The IT and business resource centre overlooks the amphitheatre and the large musical fountain, which I hope to hear tonight at 7pm (shows are on weekends only). A public swimming pool, stone foot massage circle (similar to the stone massage path in Singapore), several carp filled ponds and pleasant paths complete this excellent retreat from the city.