Thursday, October 30, 2014

Aurora Link Road

Aurora Link Road in 1987
Note the Poui trees (Tabebuia rosea) trees planted on both sides of the two-lane single carriageway road.
View looking north-east towards the roundabout near present day Masjid Assyakiriin.

The road is widened to become a four lane dual carriage-way road.
Date taken : 29 October, 2014
 There is a link road that connects the Kidurong Highway to Tanjung Batu Road situated besides the Masjid Assyakiriin.  During the First Boom (1979 - 1983) the link road was called Aurora Link Road because the road led to the Aurora Beach Hotel.  The Aurora Beach Hotel played an important role during the First Boom because it was big enough to accommodate the hundreds of expatriates especially Koreans and Americans involved with the construction of the Bintulu Port and the Liquified Natural Gas plant at Tg. Kidurong.  These expatriates required reasonably good accommodation facilities which the old Bintulu town was unable to provide.   The hotel was speedily constructed within a year and was opened in 1979, largely using the  prefab system.  Basically the hotel rooms were made of metal containers or porta cabins.   The Aurora Link Road was constructed in 1977-78 by the JKR to link the hotel (situated at Tanjung Batu Road)  to the Kidurong Highway thus providing a shortcut  to reach the Kidurong Highway in good time.
During the First Boom the Aurora Beach hotel was quite an institution by itself in booming Bintulu. The hotel provided many entertainment outlets like lounges, restaurants, dance halls, night clubs, offices and even banking (Bank Utama), besides the normal rooms.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The face of Bintulu town at first and second boom

Picture shows face of Bintulu town during the First Boom (1979 -1983)
Picture taken circa 1982.
Source : Persatuan Kesusasteraan Sarawak, Our Sarawak, Summer Times Publishing, 1983.

The face of Bintulu town representing the changes after the second economic boom (1998-2000)
Picture shows town status circa 2002, prior to entering the Third Boom (2003-2009)
Photo credit : Jacky J.H. Chan,
After two economic booms, the face of Bintulu town changed dramatically as it began to exhibit the features of a modern town.  The time period to achieve the above physical make-up of the town centre  (approximately from 1980 - 2000)  thus took about 20 years in the making.  The airport runway remained a stumbling block for the town centre development.  It was only during the Fourth Boom (2010 - present) that efforts were started to re-develop the old airport land to a prime property and recreational area.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Old SESCO power station of the 50's - 60's

SESCO administrative building at right and generating station at left.
Picture shows the place in the late 50's - 60's when the power station was located in the midst of the Bintulu town centre.
In the 1963 the diesel powered station produced 390 kilowatts of electricity for the whole of Bintulu town needs.
( Photo credit : Ho Ah Choon, Sarawak in Pictures 1940's - 1970's.)

The former SESCO building site is taken over by other government-related agency while the former power station site currently houses the Department of Information building.
Picture taken on 12 October, 2014.
Electricity in towns throughout Sarawak was previously under the jurisdiction of the Public Works Department since 1923.  Only in 1932 was SESCO (Sarawak Electricity Supply Company) formed to take over the responsibility of generating electricity supply to Sarawak towns using the DC electricity supply system.  Bintulu was provided with electricity in 1939.  Throughout the Japanese occupation period the power station was operated by the Japanese.  The power station suffered much damage due to allied forces bombing when they tried to re-occupy Bintulu.  It was only after 1948 did the Bintulu generating station restored its 12-hour day service.  In the 1950's the station production of electricity power increased in tandem with the growth of the town. The amount it produced in 1951 was only 22 kilowatts, in 1955 some 44 kilowatts and in 1959 it supplied  124 kilowatts of electricity for the town and outlying villages.  In 1963 the SESCO power station as shown above  produced 390 kilowatts of electricity per day for the small Bintulu town's consumption needs.

(Note: The information above were largely sourced from Vernon L. Porritt, British Colonial rule in Sarawak 1946-1963, Oxford University Press, Kuala Lumpur, 1997)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Borneo Company office and store in 1960's

The Borneo Company office and store, circa 1960's, fronting Keppel Road.
Photo credit : Ho Ah Choon, "Sarawak in Pictures 1940's - 1970's "
 On its wall is a big billboard advertising a brand of cigarette popular during the 60's called 'Lucky Strike'.
The former building site of the Borneo Company, Keppel Road, taken on 12 Oct'14.
A unique company that existed during the Brooke's family administration and control of Sarawak was the Borneo Company Limited.  It was referred to briefly as 'Borneo Company'.  It was founded in London in 1856 and established its operation in Kuching in the same year.  The Company carried out business throughout Sarawak during the Brooke days (1841 - 1941) and during the British colonial period (1946-1963).  The Borneo Company Limited was granted sole public company operating rights in Sarawak in 1856 and had strategic interests in minerals, timber, agriculture, shipping and financing government commercial schemes. In the 1960's, the Company's operation in Bintulu was carried out at a wooden shophouse along the Keppel Road (see top picture) The Borneo Company faced changing fortunes when in 1963 it was re-named as SEBOR Holdings (Sarawak) Sendirian Berhad and partly owned by SEDC Sarawak. However, in 1967 Borneo Company merged with Inchcape Group of UK and run as subsidiary of the group.  In 2007, the Company was taken over by Hong Kong-based company, Integrated Distribution Services (IDS) Group Limited.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Malay kampungs in 1957

Combo picture to show the rustic and peaceful Malay kampungs in 1957 compared to the crammed-up look it is today, devoid of any landscaping or forest environment.  It seemed the people do not learn from history.
Aerial picture of Bintulu town expansion at start of new millenia.

Photo credit : Ho Ah Choon, Sarawak in Pictures, 1940's - 70's.
In 1957 I used to walk from my house which was situated next to the Bintulu town to Kampung  Datok where my grandma lived.  I have fond memories of the walking through a series of small kampungs before reaching Kampung Datok.  The distance was about less than 500 meters.  But for a young kid it was a long walk.  The tiny village road that led to my grandma's house passed through many Malay and Melanau houses that were made of timber and belian roofing shingles.  Over-topping these houses were various types of palm trees and fruit trees.  They constituted a very important aspect of Malay culture and cuisine.  More significantly it was the presence of many birds around the houses feeding on fruiting trees that imprinted in me the love of plants and wildlife at an early age.  The B&W picture above is reminiscent of the forested environment of the Malay kampungs in Bintulu in the 1950's.  In contrast the same Malay kampungs today are devoid of any forest or landscaping environment.  It is a sad story of development.  But I was not to be discouraged by failure.  At the start of the new millenia (sometime in 2003) I began my own project of building a park.  It was my way of living the beautiful greenery  and wildlife-friendly Malay kampung environment I knew as a young kid.  I am pleased that I have the opportunity to re-live those days of discovery, delight and dreams in my own nature park.  I guess I have achieved the dream with the development of the  Kambatik Park in Bintulu.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tua Pek Kong attests to Chinese prosperity through four economic booms

Tua Pek Kong in the 70's
The main building was made of timber. The makeshift structure infront of the Tua Pek Kong ( in the background) was built to temporarily house social and other festivities related to the Chinese community culture and beliefs.
 The Chinese temple or 'Tua Pek Kong' when built was a very tiny timber structure.  In the 1970's its main building and roofing was made of timber.  The Tua Pek Kong is centrally situated at the heart of the old Bintulu town.  It was surrounded by Chinese shophouses.  The Tua Pek Kong is illustrative of the story of the prosperity, mainly economic which the Chinese community benefited from the four economic booms that pulled out  Bintulu from a sleepy town to an industrial city it is today.  With increasing prosperity more funds were available to carry out major re-building and renovations work.  Today the Tua Pek Kong is totally different from the days prior to the economic boom. The shophouses around it also followed suit and took on a modern look and design.  They are all now constructed with permanent building materials, principally brickworks, concrete columns and flooring with roofing tiles or aluminium roofing sheets.
A modern look to the Tua Pek Kong, in the Fourth Economic Boom (2010 - today)
Picture taken 25 Sept'14

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The old Bintulu Airport building - 1990.

Bintulu Airport building main entrance as viewed from the car parking area
Picture taken in 1990
 The old Bintulu Airport was very unique because it was located right in the middle of the Bintulu town.  In 2003, its flight operations ceased and travel in and out of Bintulu by air was shifted to a new location some 23 kilometers away south of the existing town.  Despite its small size the building served Bintulu well during the first boom (1979-1983), second boom  (1998-2000) and third economic boom (2003-2009).  Currently Bintulu is in its fourth economic boom period (2010 - present) and the new airport seems to be meeting Bintulu's flight frequencies and aircrafts. 
Site of former Bintulu Airport building is empty.  In 2003, the airport operations using the old Bintulu airport ceased.  All commercial flights to and from Bintulu since then were moved to new Bintulu Airport site, some 23 kilometers south from the Bintulu town center.
Above picture taken on 21 September,2014.
 The old Bintulu airport is now used for various activities and functions like food and fun fairs, festivals and  exhibition arena.  Below are pictures showing passengers leaving the departure lounge and the bottom picture shows returning pilgrims from Mecca.
Passengers walking to tarmac from departure lounge, circa early 70's

Haj pilgrims being welcomed and paraded from tarmac to airport building,
circa early 70's

Monday, September 22, 2014

From aerial photo to satellite image - Roundabout 1 - 3

For more story about the development of Bintulu's first major roundabouts i.e. Roundabout One to Three (R1-R3) please go to my posting in another blog here

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sungai Likau in 1988

Aerial photo of Sungai Likau taken in 1988
(Taken while flying over the place on a commercial flight)
 In 1988 Sungai Likau was a remote place from Bintulu.  The place was totally isolated from Bintulu except by sea.  Between 1988-1992, I was very much involved with the development of tourist facilities at the place i.e. coordinating the project on behalf of the Sarawak Forestry Department.  The project was divided into two phases and involved the construction of office complex, changing room/toilet, jetty, chalets, picnic/day shelters, canteen, hostel, staff quarters, high level water tank and footpath.  Most of the clearing works were done in 1989-90, with the facilities construction done between 1991-1992.  During the construction the only access was by sea.  Only upon completion of the project was the road from Tanjong Kidurong  completed.  To have a glimpse of my traveling adventure to Sungai Likau, please follow this link ....>>>
Satellite image of Sungai Likau in 2012
The road link from Tanjong Kidurong is partly seen in middle of picture (right to left).
Sungai Likau is at the entrance to the Similajau National Park and site of the various tourist facilities.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Bintulu town into the Third Boom

The urban extent of Bintulu town in early 60's when it was just a sleepy coastal town.
The government quarters are seen at the top left corner.  The grassed airport strip is partly seen at top right hand corner.
The jetties and wharves are seen at bottom part of the picture.
(Photo credit : Dunstan Teo)

Overall view of Bintulu town during the Third Boom (2003-2009)
Picture shows the tar-sealed airport runaway separating the southern and northern part (top of picture)  of Bintulu town.
Photo taken in 2003.
To have a glimpse of the life and conditions of Bintulu town in the 1960's please follow this link...>>>|+Borneo+%2C+Malaysia%2C+Sarawak+Daily+News+%C2%BB+Sarawak%29

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Old Bintulu airport building of the 1950's and 70's

Old Bintulu airport building in 1955
Picture Credit :  Ho Ah Choon, Sarawak in Pictures -1940's -70's, Sarawak Press Bhd, Kuching.
Picture shows passengers alighting from the plane and walking towards the old Bintulu airport building (of the 50's - 60's) which was basically wooden in structure, with grass-surface runway.
 In the 1968, Malaysia-Singapore Airlines introduced the 28-seater plane called Fokker Friendship or in short F 27.  The F27 served well the needs of Bintulu prior to its first economic boom (1979 -83), since traffic was not heavy.  The picture below shows the F27 plane at the tar-sealed tarmac.  However, with the influx of temporary workers, visitors, investors and businessmen etc. coming to town to partake in the  first boom, larger capacity planes were needed to meet the increasing traffic flow in and out of Bintulu.  Thus the F27 was replaced by F50 aircraft in 1981 as it could carry 62 passengers.  Bintulu old airport and building was closed in 2003.
View of Bintulu airport building, circa early 1970's - showing F27 parking at the tarmac.
Note the Fire Brigade or Bomba building at left, Main airport building and tower at center, and extreme right is the departure lounge.
This old Bintulu airport and building was closed in 2003 as it was replaced by a new airport and buildings some 23 km south of Bintulu town.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Tanjung Batu Beach in the 60's - 70's

The peaceful, undisturbed and long sandy beaches at Tanjung Batu, Bintulu.
The picture above remains true of the place in the 1960's - 70's
 The Tanjung Batu Beach is a major tourist attraction for visitors to Bintulu.  The beach is located about 4 km from Bintulu town.  The place is now very well patronised  by both the local residents and migrant population who have flooded the town after a series of four boom periods.   It is the best place to see the Binulu sunset.  I have had many joyful and memorable moments of the beach since my student days at Bintulu Government Secondary School (BGSS) in the early 1960's where we used to have class picnics at the beaches.  As a teacher in the same school in the early  70's, I had many pleasurable moments scrambling along the beaches with friends and students.  We had the beach to ourselves then.  The beach has been renamed 'Pantai Temasya Binutlu' to mark its makeover into a quality beach for the benefit of the locals and foreign visitors. The landscaping works at the place is very intensive and has added lots more plant species onto its typical original look of casuarina trees.  The long beach outline as seen in the top picture has somewhat been altered due to the construction of rocky islands just off the beach to create lagoons.  Today the place is provided with one of the best beach facilities and services in Sarawak.  A visit to Bintulu wouldn't be complete without a stopover at the beach.  
The same beach is now re-named Pantai Temasya Bintulu.
Some beach protection works seen just off the beach to create some artificial lagoon.
More picnic and recreational facilities were provided over a series of boom periods.  It is today the best public beach in Sarawak for its usage, quality of facilities provided and maintenance of the place.
Date taken : 5 July, 2014.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

First Bus Station in Bintulu

MARA buses stationed infront of the old fish market, in the late 60's -70's
Behind is the row of wooden shophouses along the Main Bazaar road
Note: Picture shows the station in the early 70's.
 In the pre-boom period, Bintulu was a sleepy town which got its first bus service in the late 60's.   The Majlis Amanah Rakyat Malaysia, in short MARA, owned these buses.  The buses provided much needed public transportation for Bintulu to link it to Miri, some 200 kilometers away north of Bintulu, which was the capital of the Fourth Division.  In the early 1970's,  Bintulu was a sub-district in the division  and all government affairs were headquartered at Miri for final decision making.  This arrangement made very slow progress to the far away town of Bintulu.  In the 60's Bintulu was in the backwaters of development.  The picture above shows the bus station site located just in front of the old fish market.  At the picture below is seen the previous bus station site turned into a public car parking space.  The wooden shophouses were demolished to give way to concrete shophouses.  When not many people were able to buy cars in the  60's and 70's, the bus service was a real boon for the general public of Bintulu.  After a series of four economic booms, Bintulu population grew larger and many were well-off to afford their own cars.  Thus with more cars additional parking spaces were constructed within  the Bintulu town.  The car parking area as shown below is charged using the coupon system.  As at 9th July'14, the current rate is 50 sen per one hour of parking time.  
Note the Tanjung trees ( Mimusops elengi) planted for  shade and beautification of the town.
Photo taken : 7 July'14

Monday, July 7, 2014

The old fish market prior to the first boom

The fish market is partly seen at left of the picture.  At the right is partly seen makeshift stalls offering coffee, fast food and cakes, even 'Satay' dish.  Picture illustrates the fish market front area in the late 60's to 70's i.e. Pre-Boom period.
 Bintulu has been well-known for fresh fishes since time immemorial.  During the pre-boom period, it has a very small fish market sited on the river bank as in the picture above.  At high tide the river water would clear all rubbish below the market.  It would mean also that if you drop your coins, it would be impossible to search for them.  The front part of the market have vegetable growers selling their cultivated vegetables and were mainly Chinese farmers .  Pass them towards the river would be the fish mongers.  A jetty extends the area of the fish market to the river and level of the low tide some 20 meters away.
The old fish market site has given way to new fish market (partly seen at left).  The new fish market complex housed both a wet and dry market and food stalls.  At right is the 'Tamu' or jungle produce market.
Picture taken on 6 July'14
Just at the beginning of the first boom, the old fish market was unable to cope with the rising demand for vegetables. For a good year or two during the first boom, vegetables were flown from Sabah to help meet the demand in Bintulu.  The government of the day decided to 'import' many vegetable farmers from Sarikei and other places in Sibu to settle at Sungai Plan to start the vegetable growing project in Bintulu on a big scale. This project site was called 'Market Gardening' project by the BDA or Bintulu Development Authority.  The produce of the market gardening project farmers were sold at the old fish market being its main retail center.  The project and the market was helpful to meet the demand for vegetables during the first boom period (1979-85)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Law Gek Soon Road in the early 70's

Law Gek Soon Road - view towards the Kemena River, 1970's
Note the old fish market at the center far background.
 This is the general view of Bintulu in the early 70's.  It was a small and sleepy town.  It's status was  a mere sub-district of Miri Division.  It has started to have a bus service and a few cars, including a jeep as seen in the picture above.  The shophouses on both sides of Law Gek Soon Road were built using posts and beams of belian timber and roofing of belian shingles.  The road was named after Law Gek Soon who was the first government Chief Clerk of Bintulu.  The shopkeepers lived on the first floor of the shophouses.  The shop at the extreme  left corner of the row belonged to Tai Hua Hardware.  It was from this shop that I ordered my 'scrambler', and was the first 'scrambler' (Yamaha Trail 125cc) to be seen in Bintulu.  The early 70's were pre- economic boom period.  The picture below shows the place during the fourth boom.
Law Gek Soon Road - view towards the Kemena River,27 June'14
Period : Bintulu during Fourth economic boom.
Note the blue coloured building at far center of the picture.  It replaced the old fish market (partly seen in the very top picture)
The blue building is named 'Pasar Utama' which houses a wet and dry market on the ground floor and a food court at the first floor.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Kidurong Highway in 1990

The Kidurong highway road in August, 1990.
The road would serve as a main link from Bintulu town centre to Kidurong industrial zone, home to the major industrial projects which help propelled Bintulu into a series of economic booms starting  in 1979. Note the planting of easy or little maintenance and colourful shrubs at the central median.  The main shrubs planted for their colourful bracts are the Bouganvillea and Mussaenda species.

The Kidurong highway road , taken on 4 February, 2014.
Note the planting of Tabebuia rosea trees at the central median which was done in the mid 1990's.  The fully matured huge Angsana trees (Pterocarpus indicus) remains a unique character of Bintulu roadside landscaping which started in a big way in 1980's and continues to present day.
Any visitor who comes into Bintulu town will observe the extent of roadside landscaping done to the town which is not seen in other major towns of Sarawak, except the capital city of Sarawak i.e. Kuching.  The construction of roads infrastructure was critical for a booming town and it was envisioned early in the 1980's that the main roads would be of 4-lane dual carriageways to serve Bintulu's impending future growth and development in population, economic prospects, new townships and industrial zones. It was planned that the dual-carriageways would serve for at least a period of 20 years of continuous growth momentum in the Bintulu economic landscape.   One of the longest highway road linking Bintulu town to the new industrial zone of Kidurong was the Kidurong Highway road which is about 20 kilometers in length. In the 1980's the whole length of the road was planted with roadside trees, mainly the Angsana (Pterocarpus indicus) and Rain tree (Samanea saman) species.  Only in the mid 1990's were the central median of the highway planted with the Tabebuia rosea species.  There are many other species of roadside trees planted in Bintulu and to get some idea of the later species planted, please check them out in my blog here...>>>

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Nyabau fishery station road in 1986

The road leading to Agriculture Department's fishery station - sometimes called Nyabau Fishery Station
Picture taken on 16 February 1981
 The existing Pantai Temasya is located at Tanjung Batu.  Further up Tanjung Batu going north is a place called Nyabau and in the 70's there was fishery station that was popularly visited by students and other interested parties especially for educational visits.  The road leading to the station was not very well maintained and at certain locations was disconnected because of many small streams that transversed it.  Today, a two-lane single carriageway replaces the old fishery station road and is an alternative route to reach Kidurong township by the Tanjung Batu coastal scenic road.  This road extension from Pantai Temasya is a popular beach destination for viewing the Bintulu sunset, family picnics and for many other relaxing activities related to the beach or sea like photography, sightseeing, jogging,etc.
Today a proper 2-lane single carriageway replaces the old earth road. This road is an extension from the Pantai Temasya and passes the Bintulu Golf Course (2nd Nine or Links Course) and leads to the ABF (Asean Bintulu
Fertiliser) housing site.
Date taken : 30 January, 2014.

This new extension road from Pantai Temasya is very well utilised because it provides people staying at the Kidurong township an alternative route to their housing area which is less busy than the main Kidurong highway and offers a much pleasant driving experience with a view of the sea.  This extension road together with the existing one starting at Taman Tumbina and passing the Pantai Temasya may just as well be referred to as "Jalan Pantai Temasya".

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Roundabout 3 in 1990

Roundabout 3 - view looking towards Bintulu- Miri Road
Location : The R 3 is located 3 miles ( 5 km)  from Bintulu town centre
Date taken : 14 August,1990
 In 1990 there were four roundabouts in Bintulu.  The picture above shows the Roundabout 3, located at Km 5, Bintulu- Miri Road.  It was the biggest roundabout in Bintulu in the 1990's.  Over time all the four roundabouts were replaced with traffic lights junctions.  The building on top of the hill to the right is located within the Bintulu Police Divisional complex.  The yellow cover at the foreground are the yellow variety leaves of the Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) which was a popular ground cover for landscaping in the 1990's.  In the 1990's the landscaping and beautification of Bintulu were a cooperative effort involving three major agencies..i.e. the JKR (Public Works), SESCO and BDA. 
Traffic Lights junction replaced the roundabout
Picture taken : 28 January, 2014.

Aerial view of Roundabout 3 showing the landscaping works at the roundabout and traffic islands surrounding it.
Date taken : circa 1990
Note the striking yellow colours of the Sweet potato cover plant at the traffic islands surrounding the roundabout.
The roadside planting and roundabouts landscaping during this time were  mainly advised by Arthur George Alphonso, Bintulu's first horticultural consultant....go here to see some other projects George was involved in Bintulu ..>>

Monday, January 6, 2014

Jalan Mesjid at Kampung Dagang in 1979

Jalan Mesjid in 1979 (Colour photograph)
Picture shows me and my sisters, cousin and nephews posing in front of my car Mazda 323 saloon parked on the right side of the Jalan Mesjid, looking towards the kampung area.
Note the tall 'Pinang' (betel nut) and coconut trees over-topping the kampung houses.

 As part of the multiplier effects of the Bintulu's first economic boom (1979-85) there arose a pressing need for more and better commercial shophouses in Bintulu.  The Kampung Dagang which shared the limit of the town's boundary was sliced for development.  There were two developers involved in the project.  In Phase One, Bintulu Realty Estate Sdn Bhd developed 1.44 hectares of land with 36 landowners.  Phase Two of the project was developed by Hock Peng Realty Sdn Bhd on a 4.12 hectares piece of adjoining land.  The Phase two involved 146 landowners.  As part of the deal in Phase Two of the project, the landowners owned shares in the new shophouses besides receiving cash compensation to help them out in their resettlement expenses.  It was estimated that the Kampung Dagang Commercial development project resulted in about RM 50 million worth of real property and cash compensation to the 182 mainly Malay and Melanau landowners.
Jalan Mesjid taken on 6 January 2014, at the same spot in the top pic .
Today the road is a single carriageway 4-lane street.