A town by the mighty Rejang River

Rejang River is the longest river in Malaysia, and Sibu town is just along this river.  Apart from the plane, I never see the town and the river from aerial view anywhere else until one day when I was at the mayor’s office.  I’ve been to the mayor’s office many times, but never really step outside the balcony to watch the view because the door was always closed.  What standing between the balcony and the mayor’s office is the transparent glass door.  But the view is blocked by …what do you call that…high fence?… at the balcony.  So, that fateful day, I looked outside, and I thought ‘no wonder people loves skyscrapers’.  It is such a beautiful sight.

So…a little tourist time here.  Sibu is not a city…okay..but it is a developing town.  The town owes much of its growth and prosperity to the mighty Rejang River.  It is a business town, soon to be very busy in the next few years, I believe.  It is a place where the modern world, nature, tradition and culture mixed up together.

Growing up in this town, all I ever know was this is a boring town.  It is…actually, to be honest.  We don’t have Disneyland or beaches or national parks. Sometimes, it got me thinking… What is it about the town that the mayor and those in higher authorities so enthusiastic about?  Why they say that Sibu has great tourism potential? I got to admit, since few years ago, the number of tourists are increasing, though not as many as in the big city, you could still spot one or two foreigners everywhere you go.  To really understand that, I asked myself ‘Do I really need to see Sibu in a tourist perspective?’

At some point, maybe or maybe not.  Since I became a reporter, I met a lot of people, whether from the streets, or from businesses, or from the authorities, I learned a lot from them.  When I went for the job interview, I remember the chief told me ‘Journalism is about growing, you’ll learn more about yourself in this job’. And I believe its true.  And not only I learned more about myself and trying to improve the areas I needed to improve, I learned more about Sibu too.  The town where I grew up.

Being an observer to this town and through many meetings with people, I finally able to see Sibu from another perspective.  Not in a tourist eyes, but in the eyes who had always been a part of community of Sibu.  I realized that the town is full of heritage with interesting history.  I think it is a sad thing that the Education Ministry never encourage the students to learn more about their own town.  It is such an important subject.

A few months ago, the municipal council launched the Sibu Heritage Trail that features the nine heritage sites.  They are Sibu Heritage Centre, Sibu Old Mosque, Warriors Memorial Site, An-Nur Mosque, Oldest Muslim Cemetary, Lau King Howe Hospital Memorial Museum, Hoover Memorial Square, Tua Pek Kong Temple, and Sibu Central Market.  It is part of the council’s effort to promote tourism in the town.

I also realized that the community spirit is very strong.  Because they love the people of Sibu so much, associations established memorial parks with history of the early Sibu.  The town is so rich in culture and heritage, if it went unexplored it would be gone forever.  Nobody will know that Sibu is called the ‘little Foochow’ or it was brought up by Christians missionaries.  It is also a town of cultures and festivals, and famous for its delicious and affordable local cuisine.  From Kampua, Dian Miang Ngu, to Bien Niuk to Kompia…they are the favourite among the locals and tourists.  Given the name as the Swan town, Sibu is steeped in the colourful history of the early Foochow immigrants led by Wong Nai Siong who were in search of a better life.  Today, Sibu is a fascinating and thriving modern town with vibrant centre.

Most importantly… I asked some of the tourists ‘what were their first impression on Sibu town?’ And they always say the same thing ‘The people are so friendly and loving’.  Now that really put the smile on my face.

Memory lane through Retro Camera

I love taking photographs, though not always good at it.  If you look back at all the photos I took, all of them are very simple.  I believe my favourite picture is the simplest one.  It goes the same with my writings too.  I use…probably the simplest words, sentences, or phrases to express what I feel (I know there are a lot of things that needed improvements).  I like it because it is easier to understand, I don’t want to make a mess on my sentences and of course, I got a lot of things to learn, especially in expanding my vocabulary.

I bought smartphone about a year ago.  It cost me a lot of money, but I had to get it anyhow because I wanted it.  I mean…a lot of people using it, my friends had it, and they really showed and told me how great smartphones are.  And to see those ads in the paper and in TV, I was so tempted to buy it, so I bought one…and it was so WORTH it.

As I said, my pictures are very simple.  And…pretty dull sometimes.  So, that’s when editing, effects..etc came in.  When I bought the smartphone, I didn’t know what apps I should install.  In fact, my sister installed most of the applications.  Just like me, she loves taking photos, and loves different kinds of cameras’ application.  She did install a few of them in my phone, and one of my favourite is Retro Camera.  It takes beautiful pictures…simple and beautiful.  Well…at least it works for me.

My favourite pictures are the pictures that I could really ‘connect’ to.  Just like writing… I wanted a material I could relate to..and most importantly the readers…YOU… could relate to (so YOU could click the ‘follow‘ button :-))  What is important is the connection.  So Retro Camera actually provides me with that connection…most of the time.  What’s cool?  No editing process!  Whenever I capture my house, and mom’s garden, or anytime  i feel like using the application, i could connect to it.  It feels like memories….  So here are some of the ‘memories’ I want to share.

 It was a rainy day on Saturday late evening.  I was waiting for my friend to fetch me. Our colleague asked us for a favour that day.  So we or should I say…she (my friend who fetched me) had to drive for 45 minutes to a small town for some photography.  My friend arrived as soon as I press the capture button on my phone.  Though it was raining, we had fun.

I grew up in the 90s.  Back  then, there were not many book shops in town and all of them looked a lot like this.  Crammed with books, so little space to walk, books weren’t organise according to genre (at least now, these book stores are more organised).  I still go to this place…well..once in a blue moon.  Right now, we have franchise bookstore, such as Popular bookstore…where we could get latest books almost every month.  And they come up with membership cards…so yeah..we could enjoy discounts.

When I was a kid, I spent a lot of  my evening time here with mom.  I used to help her with her flowers.   I remember she gave me a small pot of cactus, and she said ‘This is yours, take care of it, water it, see it grow’  I did see it grow.  It was beautiful.

My mother spent a lot of time with the family dog here too.  She loves dogs.  So do I.  He died a few years ago and we truly missed him.   I remember also, my dad used to plant tomato somewhere here.  Just like mom, he entrusted the tomato plant to me and I took care of it.

Mom loves different kinds of flowers, and orchid is one of her favourites.

I just want to take this picture.  There were so many watermelons at a supermarket one day and I just had to take pictures of them.  They look pretty good.

Dad travels to outstation a lot.  This is the place where he stores all his stuff when at home.

Haa…You know… I misplaced the key to my office desk drawer one day.  I searched it for about a week before I gave up the search.  I asked the one in-charge to get someone to crack the drawer open and replaced it with new locks and keys.  I had to pay RM10 for the replacement.  When it was done, found the key at another bag.

Not many people get the job they wanted.  When I was in school, I knew what I want to be when I grow up.  I hold on to that, and I worked hard to get where I am today.

This was taken during the last Raya visit.