Friday, December 27, 2013

Limit of Bintulu town and the Kampung Dagang in 1976

Parking space for my sports car in 1976.
The place where I park the car is the start of the Malay and Melanau kampung areas in Bintulu town.  The kampung where we lived was  called 'Kampung Dagang' and was the first of the many kampungs located close to the Bintulu town.
The building partly seen at top of the picture is the Native rest house.

Picture of same location (as above) taken on 26 December, 2013.
The Kampung Dagang where our house was located was re-developed into a commercial shopping area.  The people from the Kampung  Dagang were re-settled in new areas still closer to town and rewarded with shareholdings in the new commercial shophouses.  The Main Bazaar road is seen at right of the picture.

Pedestrian foothpath in Bintulu town-1980's

Keppel Road in 1980's
Note the wooden shophouses at the right of the picture and the two-way traffic flow.

Keppel Road taken on 26 Dec'13
The pedestrain footpath stays but re-tiled.
New shophouses are made of reinforced concrete floors, column and beams and wall of brickworks.

Bintulu town squatters area in early 80's

View of Bintulu town from the Kemena River bank towards the Chinese temple (Tua Pek Kong), 1987
 There was a big squatters settlement in the midst of Bintulu town in the early 80's.  In 1987 a major squatters demolishment was done to cleanup the town of illegal buildings and slums.  The above picture shows some of the wooden structures built by the squatters that were in the process of being demolished by the government authorities.  The public space taken by the slums were later turned into an esplanade, car parking lots and new market buildings.
View from  Bintulu Esplanade (tiled area) towards the Chinese temple area and Main Bazaar Road - 25 December,2013.
Many festivals, public gatherings, fun fairs, shows and Ramadan markets are now held at the esplanade area.  The wooden shophouses in the 80's are replaced by permanent concrete shophouses.  The Main Bazaar road now becomes a four-lane one way street.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Bintulu Golf Course - 2nd Nine (Hole 18)

Hole 18 - showing part of the fairway closer to the beach (February 1987)
The turves are of Axonopus compressus grass and the trees and bushes at the left of the picture is the OB or rough area.
Picture is taken in Febrauary 1987 when all turfing works were already well-grown, but the course still not opened for public.

Date taken 26 December, 2013.
Note the developments at the beach area nearby the fairway.  A coastal scenic road runs along the golf course boundary by the seaside.  This road is an alternative route  from Bintulu town to Kidurong township.
There is land reclamation works in the sea beyond the road started a few years ago and still ongoing.
One of the strong points of the Bintulu Golf Course especially its 2nd Nine is its prime location by the seaside. The Hole 18 fairway was cleared of its jungles in 1986.  The green was turfed with Tiff dwarf grass in late 1986 and the fairway was planted with 'cow grass' or Axonopus compressus.  In February 1987 all turfing works to the Hole 18 green and fairway were completed and thereafter regularly maintained.  In early 1988 the BGC was almost ready to be used fully with all 9 holes (Hole 10 - 18)  well maintained for play.  Since its construction in 1986 till today, the Bintulu Golf Course remains  the only golf course in Bintulu town.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Main Bazaar Road in 1975

Main Bazaar Road in 1975
Note the large green space between the two-way street.  Seen are the students of BGSS (Bintulu Government Secondary School) during the Prophet Mohammad's Birthday parade around the town.
The wooden shophouses are made of belian posts, beams and roofing of belian shingles.
Overhead electric posts are gradually replaced with underground cabling.

Main Bazaar Road today, 23 December, 2013.
The road is now turned into a 3-lane one-way street.
Permanent reinforced  concrete four storey buildings replaced old wooden shophouses and ample car parking spaces are provided on the roadsides.  Parking are now charged at hourly rate of 50 sen per hour.
Just years prior to the first boom, there were very few cars in town.  Students who studied at BGSS (Bintulu  Government Secondary School) would either take the bus or ride bicycles to school.  Many Malay and Melanau kampungs dotted the areas immediately around the town.  It was customary for the  Muslim students to celebrate the Prophet Mohammad's Birthday by parading around town (as seen in the top pix). Today the Main Bazaar Road is the main thoroughfare around town.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Tanjung Batu Scenic Road in the late 1980's

The Tanjung Batu Scenic Road - under construction in the late 80's
 One of the major impacts of the first economic boom (1979 - 1983) was the growth of population in the Bintulu town and the new satellite township of Kidurong.  With increased number of temporary and permanent workforce to the town the need for recreational activities grew.  One of the projects undertaken by the Bintulu Development Authority (BDA) was the construction of beach facilities and a bird's park which was later named Wildlife Park or Taman Hidupan Liar in Malay.  Upon adopting  the masterplan for the development of the Tanjung Batu recreational reserve area in 1985, works on providing improved roads infrastructure to the beach and park areas started in the late 1980's in earnest.  The above picture shows the construction of the Tg. Batu Scenic Road, showing the section going down towards the Aurora Beach Hotel.
Tanjung Batu Scenic Road as seen today....20 December, 2013.
Today the road is a one-lane dual carriageway with a small lane for bicycles and motorcycles incorporated.  The building on the right is Bintulu's first high-rise beach condominium project.  With proper facilities and amenities provided at Tg. Batu recreational reserve area, tourism activities picked up with visitors both domestic and foreign attracted to the beautiful scenery, breeze and many recreational activites at the beach like swimming, picnics,jogging, family gathering or outing, beach games,photography and sunset viewing. Entrance to the beach is free. Visitors especially school children crowd the Wildlife Park especially at weekends and school holidays to see many zoo animals, birds and botanic collections at the park, which is now popularly called "Taman Tumbina" in Malay.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Bintulu town during the first boom (1979 -83)

 Bintulu was a sleepy fishing village and small town when  I grew up there in my teenage years. It was known mainly for its jungle products (rattan, damar etc.), sago, timber logs and sawn mangrove timber species (ramin), and the ever popular 'belacan' or shrimp paste.  The main town centre was located on the right bank of the Kemena river  as it reaches the South China Sea.  It enjoyed fresh sea breezes and wonderful views of the sunset. It has an airfield built in 1938 and was optimally used in the 60's right on till the 90's  before it was abandoned for a new airport in 2003.  The Malay and Melanau kampungs that surrounded the town area have tall coconut and betel nut trees over-topping the villages.  All these makes Bintulu a quaint, quiet and rustic place of the pre- boom years.
Bintulu town of the 50's -60's
Picture credit : Ho Ah Choon,Sarawak in Pictures - 1940's - 70's, Sarawak Press Bhd, Kuching.

Bintulu town centre - shows much development around the town area during the first boom years (1979 -1983)
Note the newly constructed commercial buildings mushrooming .
The hospital is seen at the bottom right of the picture.  In the 1980's the airport served well the growing needs of travel to and out of Bintulu expected of a booming town.
Picture credit : Peter Chay, Malaysia - Wonders and Contrasts, Foto Technik Sdn Bhd, Kuala Lumpur, 1986.

The sleepy image of Bintulu town gradually gave way to a bustling town with the discovery of natural gas and the development of the Bintulu deep water port at Kidurong, some 20 km away north from the town.  The town was slowly being provided with better urban facilities and amenities through the re-development of many of the readily available state land around town. For example the location of the BDA-Shahida commercial area (shown at the middle of the picture above) was previously the government offices and quarters area and only public football field site.  It is worthwhile to note too that due to the pressing needs of urban space, many kampungs located closer to the town were removed to make way for shophouses e.g Kampung Dagang later became Kampung Dagang Commercial Centre (shown as newly constructed commercial shophouses at top of the picture, fronting the river)

Old Bintulu airport building in 1955

Old Bintulu airport building as seen in 1955
Picture credit: Ho Ah Choon, Sarawak in Pictures - 1940's -70's, Sarawak Press Bhd, Kuching.
 The airport buildings were made of timber and even the row of private individual houses fronting the airport (at the background of the picture) were also made of timber structures and roofing of "belian" shingles.  The picture shows passengers alighting from the aircraft and going to the arrival/departure building at right of the picture.
The site of the old Bintulu airport building taken on 13.12.13.
Note the  low rise nature and construction of shophouses in concrete and roofing of metallic sheets.
Bintulu is one the most interesting places to visit in the early days of its development because of the ease of arriving and departing Bintulu town.  The airport was located right in the midst of town.  According to records, the Bintulu airport was built in 1938 but construction was halted when the Japanese invaded Bintulu in 1941.  After the war was over, construction was renewed and completed in August 1955.  The first civil aircraft to land at the Bintulu airport on the morning of 26th August 1955 was "Rapide" - a twin rotor aircraft with wings made of canvas.  Later a Twin Pioneer - 16 seater plane was in operation to replace the "Rapide".  Other types of planes used in succeeding years were the Fokker Friendship and Fokker 50.  With the construction of a new airport  and its use, the old airport was abandoned and the site cleared and used for miscellaneous functions like fun fair, kite flying, and free car parking spaces.
 The old airport was officially closed on 29 March, 2003 and flights in and out of Bintulu were handled by a new airport built 23 kilometers away from the town centre, towards the south of Bintulu town.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Bintulu town centre during third economic boom (2003 -2008)

 The third boom years have consolidated Bintulu's position as the industrial showpiece of Sarawak.  The industrial developments were mainly focused at Tanjung Kidurong industrial zone but the multiplier effects have broadened into many aspects of the town's physical and infrastructural facilities and amenities especially those directly or indirectly supporting the major developments at Kidurong and the town's increasing population growth.
Aerial view of Bintulu town centre in mid 70's - prior to the first economic boom (1979 - 1983)

Bintulu town centre, view looking north , 2003.
The picture above shows the Bintulu airport that was situated in the midst of Bintulu town.
The airport was officially closed on 29 March, 2003 and flights in and out Bintulu were handled by a new airport built 23 kilometers away from the town centre, towards the south of Bintulu town.
(Picture credits : "Petronas LNG Complex" - brochure issued during official opening of Petronas LNG Complex at Kidurong on 8th May, 2003)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Old Council Negri monument in 1967

The small monument  as shown in the middle of the picture above was built in 1967 to commemorate the centenary of the first Council Negri session at Bintulu on  8th September 1867.  On this same location was built the new Clock Tower monument to replace the old one.  The plaque which is attached to the small monument above (center of picture) is now placed below the new Clock Tower.
Note the building behind the monument which was used as a government store in the 60's.

"Tugu Council Negri" or Council Negri monument in the form of a Clock Tower standing on the same location of the old monument.
Today the clock tower is part of a commercial re-development project called the BDA-Shahida Shopping area.

 On the 8th of September 1867, Bintulu was chosen by Charles Brooke , the Tuan Muda of Sarawak to be the first place to hold the Sarawak General Council session. The Sarawak General Council standing orders were, "to deliberate on any matter of great importance to the population in general in the countries under Sarawak rule, or should any difficulty arise among the different people about laws and customs, giving rise to hindrances and disputes, the meeting of the members and majority of their bodies.." (T. Harrison, Council Negri Centenary, BLB, Kuching, 1967).
The session was composed of the Tuan Muda, five Europeans and sixteen Malay aristocrats or the abang of Kuching.  In later years the term Council Negri was used to replace Sarawak General Council.
The plaque of the old monument  is located below the new Council Negri monument ( Clock Tower)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Old Bintulu food market and 'Tua Pek Kong' in 1972

Bintulu old food market (middle of picture) and 'Tua Pek Kong' (small building at top let of the picture)
Date of picture : 1972
Note the timber structure of all the shophouses and market buildings with roofing of belian shingles.
The river in the background is the Kemena river, flowing out to sea towards the right of the picture.

Picture shows the above same location taken on 27 September,2013.
There is a considerably big plot of land somewhere in the middle of Bintulu town which housed two structures in 1972.  At the top picture is shown the old food market and the 'Tua Pek Kong' - which is a small shrine housing a Chinese deity.  Today the plot of land has retained the 'Tua Pek Kong' which has been re-built in stages over the years .  In the picture above it is partly shown as the green tiled roofing structure on the former shrine site.  The old food market area has been turned into a small town garden.  Today all shophouses are of concrete structures and more permanent buildings are built around the town like the Main Market ( 'Pasar Utama' ) partly seen as a cone -shaped blue roofing structure above.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Map of Bintulu in the 1960's compared with 1980's

Map of Sarawak showing the 4 administrative divisions
Bintulu is in the Fourth Division of Sarawak
Source : Vernon Mullen (1967) The Story of Sarawak, Oxford University Press, Kuala Lumpur.
 In the 1960's Bintulu was just a remote district in the Fourth Division which was having its administrative headquarters at Miri.  Administratively it was under the control of Miri for much of the time it was under the colonial days or pre -1963 era.  The above map shows its location in a massive division and thus little could be done to develop it as resources were mainly directed at developing the headquarters of the 4th Division..i.e. Miri.  Bintulu was then in the backwaters of development.
Map of Bintulu District Area in 1981 showing the full area covered under the responsibility of BDA (Bintulu Development Authority)
The same boundary was used to demarcate the area of the Bintulu Division when Bintulu became a new division on 1st January, 1987.

However, Bintulu's fortunes changed in the late 1970's with the formation of Bintulu Development Authority (BDA) which spearheaded the development of the Bintulu region with its vast reserves of natural gas offshore.  1979 marked the beginning of the first boom in Bintulu.  With effect from 1st January 1981 the BDA designated area was extended to cover the whole of the Bintulu District Area, some 4,574 sq. miles of land mass.  In 1981, Bintulu had an estimated population of 58,000.  To enable Bintulu to move forward faster it was made into a Division on the 1st of January, 1987.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tanjung Kidurong point and LNG Terminal

Tg. Kidurong Point as seen in 1960
The Tanjung Kidurong point has a natural bay which was later developed into a deep-water port terminal and berthing location by the Bintulu Port Authority.
The Tanjung Kidurong point was a significant landmark in Bintulu history.  It is located north of Bintulu and in the 1960's it was accessible only by sea.  The natural geography of the area was important in deciding its location as a terminal for LNG export and the development of a regional port due to its natural bay advantage.  This natural bay was later developed into a huge berthing and wharfing facilities by the  Bintulu Port Authority.  During the first boom, the Port had installed a LNG exporting terminal that enabled the loading of the liquified natural gas cargo in safe waters.  The picture below shows two LNG ships berthing at the terminal for loading purposes.
The Tg. Kidurong Point site as seen in the late 1980's'
Shown at the foreground in the picture is the man-made breakwater to enable ships berthing and loading the LNG cargo in safe waters.  In the far background is the Bintulu Port wharfing and berthing facilities for other cargoes for and out of Bintulu like general cargoes, containers etc.,
"Tenaga Satu" - the first LNG ship that brought the first shipment of LNG from Tg. Kidurong LNG terminal  to Tokyo bay.
The picture shows the first LNG ship ready to set sail during the launching ceremony of the first cargo.
Tenaga Satu  set sailed on this maiden trip on the 29 January 1983 and arrived Tokyo on a cold winter morning on 7 February'83.

(Note: Picture credits above : MLNG exhibition booth, 'Pameran Sarawak Gemilang - 50 Tahun Dalam Malaysia, peringkat Bahagian Bintulu' at Dewan Suarah, Bintulu, 26 Oct - 2 Nov'13)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Roundabout Two in mid 1980's

The above roundabout was called Roundabout Two in the 1980's
It was well-landscaped and turfed. The stretch of roadside trees  are Angsana (Pterocarpus indicus)
 In the above picture the white building at the top left corner is the "Dewan Suarah"or civic centre.  The Dewan Suarah was built at the cost of RM 7 million and was opened on 5 July, 1988.

Date taken : 27 September,2013.
In place of the Roundabout Two, the local authority (BDA) introduced the traffic lights junction and was fully operational in early 2012.
When the local authority introduced a traffic lights junction to replace the roundabout, a new dual carriageway was built as alternative route to the Bintulu town ( as seen at the bottom left of the picture).

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Bintulu in 1954

Combo picture above shows Bintulu town as seen in 1954 and on 13 October'2013.
There is  certainly a unique appeal in the old Bintulu town.  Despite the expansion of Bintulu to the north in the form of satellite towns of Kidurong and now Similajau, the old town has retained its historical charm.  The town have been re-developed and rejuvenated over a period of more than 30 years due to Bintulu's home-grown economic booms.  As a result of the influx of investment both local and foreign to the town, much physical and infrastructural changes have been enjoyed by the residents, temporary workers and visitors alike.  In 1954, the town consisted of a few blocks of Chinese wooden shophouses, government buildings and quarters and many kampungs or villages occupied by the Malays and Melanaus which are typically located at the edge of the town.
Bintulu town as seen in 1954
Credits : Ho Ah Choon, Sarawak in pictures 1940's - 1970's
 At the right of the picture is shown the first house belonging to the local Melanau people and part of the Kampung Dagang village that starts at the edge of the town going upriver.  There is a series of long jetties from the bank to enable boats and small coastal or riverine vessels to berth during low tide.  The pitched roof wall-less structure at right built on the Kemena river is the fish cum vegetable market.
Bintulu town today, 13 October, 2013.The main highway the runs parallel to the shophouses is the main Bazaar Road.
The tiled open space at the right is part of the Bintulu Espalande area reserved for cultural, events and festivals center.
There is a stark difference between the old town and present Bintulu.  All wooden shophouses have been replaced with permanent concrete ones.  The town has expanded into the previously Malay/Melanau village of Kampung Dagang and the villagers re-settled elsewhere further out of the town vicinity.  There is of course lots of traffic and subsequently air and noise pollution around town.  The existing town retains its appeal as a meeting place for people from the coastal and riverine areas around Bintulu to undertake  business or entrepreneurial activities, obtain weekly provisions, repair machinery and equipments, banking and government matters, social as well as recreational outlets.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Tanjung Batu coastal scenic road - 1987

 The Tanjung Batu beach area has been a very popular picnic spot for Bintuluians since the 1960's.  When Bintulu encountered its first boom starting in 1979, many visitors and residents or temporary workforce to the town had the Tanjung Beach as the main outlet for beach recreational activities because it was conveniently located about 4 kilometers from the town center.  When more people settled permanently in the town there was a need to provide better amenities and facilities to the Tanjung Batu beach area.  In 1987 the Tanjung Batu coastal road as it was called then was paved and installed with street lighting.  To start with it was a  2-lane single carriageway.
1987 - Tanjung Batu coastal road -  2-lane single carriageway
Note the turning to the right (in the middle of the picture) which is the entrance to the "Pantai Temasya Bintulu" today'
 One of my responsibilities while working with the BDA (Bintulu Development Authority) in the 1980's was the landscaping of Bintulu.  In the above picture is shown the first batch of "Poui" trees planted along the Tg. Batu coastal road. The main reason for the choice was that Poui trees love the sea sprays and the intense heat of Bintulu for predictable flowering.  The seeds for these trees were sent in a brown envelope in 1985...go here to know further about the history of the Bintulu- Singapore connection regarding these Poui trees....>>>
Tanjung Batu scenic road, as it is better known today - 11 October'13.
 Today, the Tanjung Batu scenic road has received many improvements.  It has become a dual-carriageway with much improved landscaping and central street lighting.  This scenic road now connects the Pantai Temasya to the Kidurong township and is fast becoming a popular spot to watch the Bintulu sunset.
Tanjung Batu scenic road, as it is better known today - 11 October'13.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

From Tanjung Batu Beach to Pantai Temasya Bintulu

"Pantai Tanjung Batu" (Malay) or Tanjung Batu Beach in 1979
 In 1979 I used to go for picnic and scrambling at the Tanjung Batu Beach.  The above picture shows me riding the scrambler at the beach area.  The site of the scrambling is today's car parking area.  The site was rich with white silica sand. However, for more fun and thrills, we would scramble along the beach and off-road areas further up the coast towards the Agriculture Department's fishery station where the present Bintulu Golf Course is.  Often times I used to bring my school students for picnic and swimming at the beach when a teacher at Bintulu Government Secondary School from 1975 -1976 and when I was the Headmaster of the school in 1979 - 1980.
Pantai Tanjung Batu has been re-named "Pantai Temasya Bintulu"
Date taken : 10 October, 2013.
The present site is one of the many car parking areas provided at the well-patronised and most popular beach spot in Bintulu.  It has been re-named 'Pantai Temasya Bintulu' in Malay to mean 'a beach for recreational, picnic, play and fun'.  In the November 1980 I joined the BDA (Bintulu Development Authority) and during the mid 1980's was greatly involved with re-developing the beach area especially the development of the beach facilities and amenities, landscaping and the Bird's Park (later re-named "Taman Tumbina").

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Law Gek Soon Road in the mid 1980's

Law Gek Soon Road, mid 1980's
 The above pic shows the Law Gek Soon Road in the mid 1980's when Bintulu faced its first economic boom.  Compared to the present day (1 October, 2013) there are very stark differences in terms of the buildings structure(e.g. wooden shophouses), movement of traffic (  2-way versus 1 - way streets) and newer buildings that cropped up to make Bintulu town's image  on par with other major towns of Sarawak.  The blue cone-shaped building in the center background in the picture below  is the Main Market building or "Pasar Utama".  The tall pole in the center has a surveillance  camera attached as a crime preventive measure.  Today there is not a single remnant of wooden shophouses in Bintulu town.
Law Gek Soon Road, taken on 1 October, 2013
Law Gek Soon
First Government Chief Clerk of Bintulu.
Mr Law Gek Soon was born and bred in Bintulu. He was the first Government Chief Clerk of Bintulu.  He died during his service in 1918 at the age of 45.  The Law Gek Soon Road is named after him.

Keppel Road in 1980

Keppel Road in 1980
Credits: Pic from 'The Sarawak Tribune', dated 31 May,1980.
 In 1980 the town roads were gradually tar-sealed but the electric posts still remain at the center of the road.  The roads were mainly two-way street.  In 2013 all roads in town were mostly one way streets which seemed to solve the problem of traffic jams and improved further with traffic light junctions.
Keppel Road , 1 October, 2013.
In 1980 it was estimated that there were about 700 vehicles in Bintulu as compared with 40 in 1970.  In 1960 there was probably only 3 cars in town.  1980 was just the beginnng years of the first boom that brought much physical changes to the town especially the roads and the buildings.  Today, Bintulu is in its 4th economic boom.  The continuous boom that the town experienced since 1979 has made it the prime target of internal migration from other towns and villages in Sarawak for the promise of better paying jobs and business opportunities.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Keppel Road and Food market in the 1960's

Keppel Road with turfing in the centre, in the 1960's.  The food market is the building at left.
The road is still largely sandy dirt road with some stoning done.
All shophouses are wooden type with concrete ground floor and roofing made of Belian wood shingles.
Note the river bank across the town....there are no buildings built across river.

 Over the years the food market that was located in the center of the town was fondly referred to as the 'Old Market'.  In the 1960's the old market was a meeting place for almost everybody in town to buy wet food like fish, meat and vegetables,  and to eat and drink provided by many Chinese and Malay stalls inside the building.  The Keppel Road that lined it on the inland side was a sandy dirt road and only towards the early 70's were the roads around the shophouses began to be stoned.  There were a handful of cars about town in the 1960's and bicycles were a highly regarded possession.  I could remember well how I had to fork out 20 cents to learn how to ride a bicycle within one hour of rental time, bearing in mind that in the sixties 20 cents was a lot of money.
Keppel Road taken on 27 September, 2013.
The former space of the 'old market' is turned into a mini- town park.
The Keppel Road is made into a one way four-lane single carriageway and tar-sealed.
All shophouses are re-built as concrete structures.
Note the view across river...What was previously an empty riverbank is now occupied with many buildings  belonging to the Customs and Marine Department.
Today the Keppel Road and the old market area is totally transformed.  The old market area has been developed into a mini-town park with maximum tree planting for much needed urban greenery and meeting place.  It is remarkable to see the physical changes happening to this part of the Bintulu town over a period of slightly more than three decades as shown by the two before and after pictures above.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Keppel Road in 1979

Keppel Road in 1979

Keppel Road in 2013
Date taken : 23 September 2013
In the early late 60's and throughout the 1970's,  Keppel Road was very well-known for the site of the only bank in town called 'Standard Chartered'.  It was also popular as the site of the old food market.  In the top picture, the low-rise building at left (only roof shown) is the old food market.  Today the site is turned into a small town park.  The old wooden shophouses have been demolished and replaced by three-storey concrete shophouses. In 1979 the centre of the road was turned into car parking area and traffic was two-way.  Today the road is a four-lane single carriageway with parking lots located on the left side as we enter the town proper.  1979 is significant for Bintulu because it marked the start of the first economic boom.