Monday, September 14, 2009

A Short Trip to Sibu

The weekend was spent in another never-been place : Sibu, Sarawak.

Took advantage of the direct flight by Air Asia, which I read recently will be discontinued come late October due to some 'dispute' on rural air routes with MasWings.

Anyway, how did I find Sibu?

It was busier and more crowded than I thought. I guess the locals from nearby towns come to Sibu on weekends for their shopping and outings. The air was rather festive with raya music played from some shops. Weather-wise, it wasn't sunny skies unfortunately, hazier than KK.

View from the 9th floor of the hotel.

Looking at the town map we were told that it may be too far to walk but actually we managed a leisurely walk around town in 45 minutes or so.

The mighty Rajang river certainly is a presence in the town, brown like cold teh tarik. At 640 km, it's Malaysia's longest. Remember our Geography lessons?

Places :
Malaysia's biggest town square is in Sibu. So now we know.

Wisma Sanyan is the tallest building in Sarawak at 28 floors, and houses Parkson Ria and other outlets. It has this funny pink and green neon lights lit up at night, on its uppermost floor I think. Next to it is the biggest town square in Malaysia at 32 acres. Biggest in Malaysia; I certainly did not know that before this.

Live squirming butods for sale at the market.

Sibu Central Market is the state's largest wet market. Clean and airy, and a hive of activity, it was actually very interesting walking through it on a busy Sunday morning and checking out the local produce. Fresh local vegetables are much cheaper here. Duku langsat seems to be sold in every corner, it must be in season, and they were sweet too.

The Methodist Church.

Faithfulness, and The Apostles' Creed.

Hoover Square is a very new building just officially opened last month, part of the Masland Methodist Church. I really like the almost all-white colour scheme and the 'open square' design. I like the way they had these short columns depicting prayers in various languages.

The Swan Statue, the symbol of Sibu. One big one is near the Menara Gerbang and the other one, which is the most popular, is by the riverside next to Li Hua and Kingwood Hotel.

Pasar Malam (Night Market): interesting foodstuff galore aside from the usual baju, bags and miscellaneous stuff for sale. The ones we spent time on sold barbequed meats and fish, skewer stuff, paus, kompias, rice dumplings, pancakes, and kuehs.

The 100 year old Tua Pek Kong near the waterfront.
Food :
Mee Kampua (one of Sibu's signature dishes) was had at Jia Bin Cafe, which I didn't expect to be so centrally located. It's a coffeeshop actually. We had mee kampua twice, and it only cost RM2.40 and RM2.20 respectively. One iced kopi-o and one teh-o cost only RM1.90. I don't think we can find any coffeeshop in KK with this kind of pricing anymore :(

Kompia : I really like this local 'bagel'. Only RM1 for 5 of the plain pieces or RM1 for 3 stuffed pieces. Before leaving, I bought four packets back and they were lovely when I warmed them up and spread some cheese on it. The texture reminds me of that of Auntie Anne's pretzels.

Buah dabai : my first time to try out this fruit. It looks like a big olive. Washed the fruits clean, then dunked them to soak inside hot boiled water for 10-15 minutes. The fruit goes soft and you can slide the skin off easily. I can't quite describe the taste cos it's so mild, but I liked it enough to buy one kg back. The most expensive we saw were sold at RM20 per kg, the cheapest at RM11. Am not sure whether this reflects quality or just the freshness; I think it's the latter.

Special 3-layer iced coffee with gula apong, at Manna Life Cafe, Wisma Sanyan. Yummy!

Midin : this is the local fern/paku (similar to our local ferntips) , slightly crunchy, stir fried with garlic. Sorry, no picture taken before it was devoured. Sibu also has a lot of savoury kuehs which seem to be available at every corner shop, fried fresh. I like the cucurs and what-nots alas I had no more room in my stomach.


Stayed at Tanahmas, 'The Sibu Hotel"; I was pleasantly surprised with the newly renovated room; modern clean design, very comfortable at the same time. Flat screen 32 inch Panasonic TV, eco-toilet, extra pillows, armchair and ottoman, iron, hairdryer, safe, was very complete I thought. They even provide a candle and a matchbox.

No choice for airport transfers, taxi from airport to town is RM35, from town to airport RM30. No buses, well there probably are but the main road is quite a distance from the terminal and the buses don't run on schedules. Within town area, it's very easy to navigate around although it can be quite confusing at first.

Old Sibu buses.

Sibu has A LOT of motorbikes. A LOT. Bike parking aplenty too.

We didn't see the Pandaw River Cruise Ferry berthed at the terminal, maybe it's only back in a few days time. Express boats were aplenty to nearby small towns like Bintangor, Dalat, Kanowit and Kapit.

Oh, one more thing that struck me : at every street and corner in Sibu there is at least a drugstore, or a traditional Chinese drugstore or a pharmacy. On one block alone there were four. I find this very interesting, maybe pharmacy is the preferred profession?

Well, that's the Sibu trip in a nutshell. It may be sometime before a return trip beckons, maybe it'll be more adventurous to take the express boats to other places in the interior.

Thanks to Mr Borneo Falcon for the helpful tips!


  1. Pharmacy is a very competitive business here. You will notice the price of the drugs here are cheaper than elsewhere. My friend own a pharmacy shop and he told me about it.

    As for Dabai, the price is a bit high as it is the beginning of the season. Usually we add soya sauce and sugar after soaking it with warm water. The higher price of Dabai reflect on its quality and more flesh.

    You definitely cover a lot of ground for 1 day.

  2. Hi Borneo Falcon,

    That explains the pharmacy business then.

    If we stayed longer I would've eaten more food! Now I know dabai tastes a little bit like our local fruit, the bambangan.

    :) We tried to be effective and efficient while we we there

  3. sibuans is famous in producing doctors and pharmacists. you won't be surprise to see a chinese drug store dealer's child is a pharmacist. by the way, at sibu night market, you gotta buy the pig head's skins and serve it with chilled beer (3in RM10). It's a bargain here in sarawak! And notice the level of unity in our east malaysian states where muslim & non-muslims stalls open side by side. sibu is currently building one of the biggest temple in SEA located at km26 sibu-bintulu road near its airport scheduled to open this oct! well, mighty rajang river is ever flowing with ships and express boats. it's the aorta of central sarawak.

  4. Hi jingpengboy -

    Yeah, we did buy the 3 for RM10 beers :) at the night market. Sibu is quite like many towns in Sabah, we really are relaxed and respectful regardless race and religion, just like what you mentioned about stalls sited side by side without any issues at all.

    thanks for dropping by!