Thursday, May 24, 2012

Clean, Green and Grin - Miri, Sarawak

Coming from the bustling metropolis of Kuala Lumpur, I must admit that I am very disappointed with Miri. The entire city is spotlessly clean. The sky is a bright blue and the air is clean and fresh.

There are no banners offering massage services or quick loans from Ah Longs on every available surface, including road signs.
The light poles along the streets and traffic light poles at junctions do not have stickers offering tuition services. Heck, the streets themselves are clean and well swept, and the buildings are well kept and painted.

The trees in Miri are not festooned with banners offering pills to turn men into super triathletes in bed, and worst of all, the people in Miri are very friendly and will smile and chat with you.

Miri is also not a concrete jungle, with many green lungs and parks. What a shame for a city to conduct itself in such a well mannered way. Its a good thing we were only there for three days otherwise we would have suffered from an overdose of niceness.
But seriously folks, Miri should easily be voted the cleanest city in the country. It is well taken care of by the authorities and the cooperation of civic minded Miri residents. It is the second largest city in Sarawak, with a population of about 300,000, and is the birthplace of Malaysia's petroleum industry,

This is a town that oil built. The bustling commercial centre is well poised to serve the petroleum community. To best understand this city, visit the "Grand Old Lady," a nickname given to the first oil well formed in 1910. The official "Well n° 1" is on Canada Hill and promises a good view of the city.

Oil production has moved offshore and the sea surrounding Miri is again a divers' paradise. The waterfront along the Miri River is lined with seafood restaurants and small coffee shops, good for enjoyable walks.

Around the city, a wealth of natural treasures is open to visitors. 45 minutes by car south of the city, Lambir Hills is one of the world's most biologically diverse rainforests. Beyond the spectacular waterfalls, the forest is home to over 1,000 different species of trees and insects. Visitors may swim in the Latak waterfalls after crossing a suspended bridge that boasts impressive views.

Niah Caves, two hours from Miri, is yet another impressive site and shows evidence of some of the earliest existence of human life in the region; its walls are covered by prehistoric paintings. The cave has been proposed to be added on the Unesco's world heritage list.

Three hours by car, Loagan Bunut National Park is a bird observation site along the largest natural lake of Borneo.

Miri has excellent public amenities. A state-of-the-art Marina attracts the international yachting community, as well as divers.

Miri is small enough for strolling, yet big enough to offer all the amenities of life. It is also a staging point for trips to the vast rural hinterland drained by the Baram River, and some of Sarawak’s most famous national parks, including UNESCO World Heritage Site Gunung Mulu, Niah, Lambir Hills, Loagan Bunut lake, and the cool highlands of Bario and Ba Kelalan.

But I’m glad to be back in good old Kuala Lumpur with its traffic gridlock, lack of parking spaces, rude taxi drivers, smog, pollution and most importantly the graffitti, banners and stickers covering every conceivable surface imaginable.

Yes its good to come back to a city where people mind their own business and nobody will smile at you.

I wonder if there’s a market for an online lifestyle magazine editor in Miri? 



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