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)