Saturday, September 27, 2014

Limbang slices one of the world's richest countries Brunei into two

Limbang Division, a division slices one of the world's richest countries Brunei into two; the product of the political action and historic consensus which resulted West Brunei to the west and Temburong District in the middle of Limbang and Lawas district.
Limbang is a border town and the major town of Limbang District in the Limbang Division. It located on the banks of the Limbang River in the North-Eastern Region of Sarawak, sharing the border with Miri, Sabah, Labuan, Brunei and Indonesia. 

Administratively the region is divided into Limbang and Lawas district which cover an area of 7,790 square kilometers with a total population of 75,000 which comprises of the major ethnic groups are Melayu/Kedayan, Chinese, Lun Bawang and Bisaya.
Geographically, Limbang can be divided into 3 major natural regions, namely the coastal alluvial plain, the central undulating low land and rugged forested hinterland highlands. A bustling Malay water-village directly across river simply adds to the charm of the town. Three main rivers are Sg Limbang, Sg Lawas and Sg Trusan with theirs tributaries serving as the main transport of the areas.

Bukit Mas is a 210 m high jungle-clad limestone outcrop which dominates the Limbang town. There is a small Buddhist shrine halfway up the summit road. The summit offers excellent views of nearby Brunei and is accessible via a steep road leading off Jalan Pandaruan, or by foot via a long staircase leading from the Lake Garden at the eastern end of the town. Limbang is the starting and ending point of the Headhunter's Trail to and from Mulu National Park.

Logging in Limbang has been a significant contributor to the country’s economy historically; however some clear changes occurred currently with small holding agriculture, commercial plantation and commerce overtaking as the main economic contributor.
Due to high-valued currency unit and therefore the high purchasing power of Bruneians (the exchange rate is a Brunei dollar to RM2.20) besides its vicinity, Limbang is thus became the popular weekend destination among Bruneians since becoming part of Malaysia in1963.

In contrast, the vicinity of Brunei causes an increase in the capacity of the economy to market various consumer goods as well as services related to leisure and entertainment.

In fact, the richness of seafood, local agricultural produce and quaint Kedayan-Malay villages in Limbang are the main attraction for Bruneians as the Bandar Seri Begawan, capital of Brunei is just 45 minutes away.

The most popular items that are bought by Bruneians are ikan pahai, a type of smoked fish found only in Limbang, it is crispy and usually eaten with porridge; umbut, a type of jungle fern grown locally, best eaten with sambal belacan and kanji, a processed beef meat dish are the favorite buy . Another good buy is the fragrant Bario rice.

The Esplanade and bustling Tamu or wet market are the main attraction in Limbang. Some well-kept Malay and Chinese traditional villages along Jalan Pandaruan are listed as the key scenic area. Along the road towards the Brunei Ferry, delicious fresh swamp clamp are on sale by a number of Kedayan kampungs folks.

The annual Babulang Festival, a buffalo race celebrated by Sarawak's ethnic Bisaya community once a year in the nearby village of Batu Danau is the unique event that shouldn't be missed. 

There are two ways get to Limbang, either by air or road. The quickest and most convenient way to travel from Miri to Limbang is by Maswings ATR aircraft made in Toulouse, France and time taken is 30 minutes. Alternatively, Limbang to Miri distance is 120 km by road passing though Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei and the time it takes to travel is 3 hours and 0.98 minutes. There are Express boat operating two trips daily, departing Limbang at 07:30 and 08:00; Labuan at 12:30 and 14:00.

                                Limbang River

                                                                      Limbang River
                                                                         Limbang River

                                                                          Limbang River

                                                                             Limbang River

                                                                          Pasar Tamu


                                                                              Durian Limbang

                                                                        Tomorrow will be better

                                                                              Sea food

                                                                            Durian Limbang

Loving couple

                                                                            Local product

                                                                             Red Durian

Good Harvest
                                                                        wild durian

                                                          Tua Pek Kong Temple

                                                                   Tua Pek Kong


Limbang – Head Hunter's Trail to or from Mulu National Park

Limbang is by far the most famous division in Sarawak. It's the start or end point of the Head Hunter’s Trail from Mulu National Park. It slices Brunei into two and separates the diminutive sultanate from Sabah. The longstanding territorial claims by Brunei on Limbang has been on the back burner for such a long time which play a major factor for making its popularity.

It became the center of attention once again when Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, signed a landmark deal on March 16, 2009, officially ending the longstanding territorial disputes between the two countries. The political calculation behind the territorial settlement is clearly to strengthen the developing bilateral strategic partnership.

The toll-free Malaysia-Brunei Bridge linking Limbang District, Sarawak and Temburong District, Brunei continued to attract public attention and media coverage. In December 8, 2013, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei opened the RM25 million toll-free Malaysia-Brunei Bridge linking Limbang District, Sarawak and Temburong District, Brunei.

Spurred by the opening of the RM25 million bridge, Sarawak Public Works Department had allocated RM140 million to upgrade infrastructure in Limbang and another RM70 million for Lawas.

The bridge facilitates travel between Sarawak, Sabah and Brunei which cut down a five-hour ferry ride across Sungai Pandaruan to merely five minutes. As a catalyst for regional development, the bridge linking Brunei and Limbang will encourage economic growth, tourism and enhance economic opportunities for the neighboring countries.
Brunei was once a great power and empire in the island of Borneo-Kalimantan. Since 1890 the 26th Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Hashim Jalilul Alam Aqamaddin had contested the seizure of Limbang by the Second White Rajah of Sarawak, Charles Brooke. However, decolonization had changed the status of Limbang that resulted in becoming part of Malaysia in 1963 and Brunei gaining independence from Great Britain in 1984. Since then, Brunei never stopped claiming that Limbang is part of Brunei.

                                                                                Limbang Airport

                                                                   Symbol of Limbang

                                                                    Buffalo at round about

                                                                       Limbang town

                                                             Malaya water village across river

                                                          Another view of Limbang town

                                                                         Round About

 Limbang Market
                                                                        Welcome  to Limbang Market

                                                                         Malay School

                                                        Shop houses beside Limbang River

                                                                            Btg Limbang

                                                       Bangunan Dewan Perniagaan Limbang

                                             Purnama Hotel (the big building at the back)

                                                                   Road Side Market

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Marudi - Baram Regatta, Char Kueh Tiaw and Tapah Fish

Marudi timber trade fuels local economic boom in the 70s and 80s. But the timber companies have since closed as all the primary forest have been logged and planted with oil palm. The population of this town has dwindled to less than 5,000 now, crippling the town’s economy and its pride. However, the legacy was constantly reminded.

Timber was the staple of Marudi trade for much of the 70s and 80s. Fueled by world demand, the timber trade brought immigration and fostered economic development, which transformed regional environment far more radically. However, the heavily depended on timber to fuel its economic boom has ended as most of the timber was harvested. 

The timber industry seems to be blamed for business being slow and the streets in this town are quiet. New commercial and  housing development have come to a standstill.

While the Baram Regatta which held once in three years is the biggest gathering of people in the Baram River basin, started since the peace-making treaty to end tribal wars some 115 years back.  It has always been attractive, upgrades and added programs and events activities such as cultural performances, traditional sports competition, Baram Idol, eauty pageants, exhibitions and many more have made the area a draw in itself for tourists to the festival.

Baram Regatta has its social and historical significance. It was first held in Claude Town (Marudi) from the 9th to 10th April 1899, marking the great peacemaking on the 3rd of the regatta.

Charles Brooke believed that the Baram Regatta would be a solution to their predicament, having hosted the first regatta, the Sarawak Regatta in Kuching in January 1871; Rajah Brooke mooted the idea and decided to promote it to the tribes living in the interior.

The controversial idea was conceived by Marudi British Resident Charles Hose who wanted to find a solution to end tribal conflicts and head-hunting activities among the various ethnic groups in the Baram district.

Charles Hose realized that with the exception of the Penans, all other tribes in Borneo utilize rivers extensively to traverse and to create boundaries as they expand their lands. The idea was taken on eagerly and soon felling of large forest trees was seen and war boats were carved from a single tree trunk, normally from the “engkabang” tree that could seat 30 warriors. 

The tree trunk was normally hollowed out with the use of fire and adze. Its masthead was shaped into a head of the majestic hornbill, given that the hornbill is highly revered in the Orang Ulu culture, regarded as a vessel for the spirits to communicate with the people.

The great peace marked an end to subjugation by the Madang; Kayans (Upper Rejang) and Lirong (Ulu Tinjar) of the Kayan and Kenyah of Ulu Baram. The focus of the celebration was to forge peace among the people and loyalty to the Government, pledged by every rival group leaders before the Resident Claude.

Hence, the event has over the years transformed into an event that allows visitors and locals to have the opportunity to experience the authentic rich cultural and historical heritage of Baram.

Marudi is famous for three things:
i.   Lai Lai Coffee Shop Marudi Char Kueh Tiaw has claimed the title of the town’s best Char Kueh Tiaw since it opened many years back. It’s next to Mount Mulu Hotel.  This is the original homemade Kueh Tiaw fried with bean sprouts and egg. The Kueh Tiaw is thicker that give the noodles a stronger bite. This is the difference between a handmade and a machine made. To serve, place a fried egg on top of the Char Keuh Tiaw. It’s simply delicious.
ii. Marudi freshly and fragrant baked Bread, a remnant of the White Colonial Days. Most people order loaves of bread to bring back to Miri or other parts of Sarawak whenever they make a stopover in Marudi. This special bread is made by the Phang family and the texture of the bread is reminiscent of the bread made by the Colonial Officers who enjoyed their English breakfast and afternoon teas. It has a special shape and most government officers continue to have some toasts every day in the shop.
iii. Tapah Fish, the river catfish locally known as ‘Ikan Tapah’ or its scientific name Wallago attu. It was common for the dwellers to catch 100 to 150 fish each spawning season from November to December. The fish could range in weight from 5 to 30 kg. Big ‘tapah’ fish are sold at RM40 per kg while the smaller ones are sold at RM30 per kg.

                                                                            Baram River

                                                                          Char Kueh Tiaw

                                                                           Char Kueh Tiaw

                                                                             Char Kueh Tiaw

                                                                          Raw Kueh Tiaw

                                                                             Fries Kueh Tiaw

                                                                             Lorong Empat

                                                                  Main Road Petty Trader

                                                                     Mount Mulu Hotel

                                                                     Fragrant Baked Bread

                                                                               Dry Tapah fish