Christmas Spirit Alive!
This past three days was another memorable Christams for me. I spent my Christmas in Kuching, Miri and Niah with the family. When I say family, I mean the whole big troop of 'family' from those three locations. My wife, baby and I flew over to Miri on Christmas Eve. We waited for the Christmas countdown with my in-laws, catching up on lost time till almost mid night.
The next day we drove to Niah to meet up my parents who were driving from Sibu. I got to experience the famous 'coastal road'. I understand its a new stretch of road from Miri - Bintulu. It was the only alternative to old road which was said to be 'submerged under flood water at times'. Well, a road is a road and I would say it was a pleasant ride all the way to Niah. We managed to reach Rumah Pasang after a 50 minutes cruise. There, the whole big family converged from the four corners of Sarawak and we had another randau aka drinking session and that was also where I was able to see the tradition of holding 'open house' being practiced proudly.
Pointers to Coastal Road Users: Driving on the Niah - Miri Coastal Road I was informed by the people staying there that one must be careful when driving along the road late at night. When i mention 'late' its about 8.30 pm onwards as it can be very dark as the lights have not be put up along this stretch. 'Mugging' cases do occur at times at times - I was told so. Some 'roadblocks' would be set up by irresponsible people (possibly bandits) who would ask the drivers who stop and part with their possessions. Also do not drive fast if its raining as the road can be slippery. To date I was told there has been some deaths on this new stretch of road.
Okay, back to family business: The whole troop drove to Miri the next day and it was quite a nerve wrecking experience. Put the scenario of having a big family and so little time on a tour of Miri - your patience can be tested to its limits. My Uncles, my bro - in law and myself were each commandeering a car for the various groups. So handphones were ringing here and there - some wanted to go to Miri's famous 2020 for breakfast, Boulevard for shopping, Tanjong Lobang to see the beach, Miri City Fan to view this landmark and the kids were insistent on going to Toy's World. It was a situation which my education never taught me how to handle. Suddenly I was on a sailing ship which has been caught in a strong cross wind and the convoy was zig zagging around Miri City. But honestly it was fun - you need to be in the family long enough not to join in the 'decision making process'. We regrouped ourselves in the cars according to family members with common destinations.
After everyone was happy, it was time to go back - wishing everyone a safe journey home. Those going back to Sibu and Niah left in the afternoon with their prized Miri souveniers (mostly in bottles). My missus and baby took a little breather at my in-laws before we left for the airport to catch our flight to Kuching.
Santa and his Elf?
Christmas tree at Dynasty Hotel Miri
Miri - Niah Coastal Road
The familiar Tiger Beer can amongst the other beers ( A rose amongst thorns)
The food for lunch blessed by Father Phillip
Arriving at Kuching International Airport from Miri last night
Overall, I can say this over and over again. The Christmas Spirit is alive and well in Sarawak. It was hard to please everyone though. My previous colleagues who are in Miri and friends has wanted to share the Christmas joy with us but there was so little time. It was a family Christmas 2005.
Though we met so many familiar faces at 2020 that morning we were not able to accept their invitations. I also noted that there were a lot of Sibu and Kuching visitors in Miri City. We talked about the City status and what Miri City had to offer.
I will say this - Miri City has a lot to share that is for sure. The people are friendly and it has everything that a 'less demanding' tourist has to offer. So if its to become a Resort City - it should sell its Oil City image and the wonderful hotels to stay in. The tour guides should be properly coached on how to make the City sound interesting when they talk to the tourists. The Bruneians whom we saw driving all over Miri City appreciates what is in Miri - especially the shopping and food. Foreign or Malaysian (out of Miri tourists) visitors would need some assistance to connect to the 'hot spots' of Miri City from their hotels. The Miri coastlines are famous for its Coral Reefs but no one seems to be promoting this. So hopefully the planners of the City can look into this few inputs to ensure that Miri City grows and become another glittering jewel on the Island of Borneo.