Sarawak is the largest state in Malaysia. It covers an area of approximately 125,000 sq. km., which is about 37% of the total land area of Malaysia. Sarawak is one of the two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo within Latitudes 0 deg.52′ and 4 deg.59′ North and Longtitudes 109 deg.32′, and 115 deg.40′ East.
With an estimated population of 2.027 million in 1999, Sarawak is divided into 11 administrative divisions, namely Kuching , Sri Aman, Sibu, Sarikei, Miri, Limbang, Kapit, Samarahan, Bintulu, Mukah and Betong Divisions.
The history of Bintulu stretched back to 40,000 years ago with the discovery of relics found in the Great Niah Caves, some 120 km to the North of Bintulu where civilization started. There were also indications of early trade carried out with ancient China.
BEACHES AND SCENIC COASTLINES
The most attractive coastline in Bintulu is situated at the Similajau National Park. It consists of small inlets, beautiful and unspoilt golden beaches and fascinating rock promontories as well as coral reefs. These small inlets and beaches provide excellent avenues for water sports. This place can be developed into tourist resort.
Another coastal attraction in Bintulu is the Tanjung Batu Coastal Reserve Area. It consists of approximately 520 acres of undulating and coastal plain with moderately clean and scenic beach. This beach is popularly frequented by the locals. A master plan study on this area has been completed and some of the recommendations by the consultant have been carried out currently. These include the development of a Bird Park, an international hotel and apartment which will be ready by end of 1996; the recently completed 18-hole golf course; and other recreational facilities. A lagoon is also expected to be developed in the near future. With all the facilities developed., it would not only attract local and regional visitors but also international visitors to Bintulu.
TANJUNG BATU BEACH – AN IDEAL PLACE FOR PICNIC
A place to enjoy the sun, sea and sandy beaches and to have fun. An ideal spot for family and friends to gather and have a picnic or even camping and fishing. There are changing and wash rooms available for an additional comfort to your outing. Take a break from home cooking and have a barbecue here, using the barbecue pits provided or just simply head to the food and drink stalls nearby – offering delicacies from “satay and rojak” to ice-cream and coconut juice or just enjoy the sunset and sea breeze in your evening walk.
SIMILAJAU NATIONAL PARK
The park is located approximately 20 kilometers northeast of Bintulu Town by road. The Similajau National Park consists of a narrow rocky shoreline dominated by many small inlets (crystal clear fresh water streams, many cascading down from small waterfalls right onto the beach sand) and unspoil t golden sandy beaches. The interior part of the park is made up of a thick Borneon virgin jungle where great varieties of flora and fauna can be found shich provided visitors with optional recreational opportunities such as jungle trekking and exotic experience watching colourful flora and fauna.
Similajau National Park which is about 7,000 hectares is home to over 125 species of birds and 24 vaarieties of mammals. Basic facilities such as chalets and hostels are availabe for those intending to stay overnight. A Forest Department’s Information Center is their to assist.
SCENIC, TROPICAL RIVER OF BORNEO
Bintulu’s position as a tourist destination area is further strengthened by the existence of the Kemena River. A tropical river of Borneo, the Kemena River is endowed with scenic views including luxuriant tropical vegetation; tiny farm huts and longhouses scatters along the river sides and riverine traffic sliding through the yellowish, silty tropical water. The fascinating features of the Kemena River offer visitors excursions or river safaris during which they can stop over at nay of the longhouses to watch native communal living under one roof.
The proximity of the main river system in Sarawak, the Rajang to the kemena River system, makes a journey to the heart of Borneo an adventure option for visitors.
NIAH NATIONAL PARK
The Niah National Park is located some 120 km by road to the north of Bintulu. Some parts of the park is honey-combed with many limestone caves Niah Caves contain a rich variety of flora and fauna including thousands of swiftlets which produce edible bird nests. The droppings form the numerous bats at the caves are an important source of natural fertilizer known as Guano.
The west mouth of the Niah Caves is one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. It is significant because of the wide range of stone tools that have been discovered from the Palaeolithic Period (Old; Stone Age) to the Neolithic (New Stone Age). The discovery of skull fragments, considered to be the earliest definite representative; of Homosapiens in Southeast Asia, adds to the archaeological importance of this attraction. Prehistoric wall paintings also exist in one of the caves.
Besides exploring the profusion of the limestone caves and viewing the prehistoric wall paintings, visitors can also witness natives perched precariously on tall bamboo poles collecting edible bird nests.
Nest Collecting is a feat worth witnessing and occurs only twice a year at six monthly intervals, usually in January and June. The nests stick on the cave roof and the collector climbs a perpendicular pole to a height of some 60 metres from where he scrapes off the nests with a long bamboo pole equipped with a scraper.
The journey to the Niah Caves also involves a 40-metre walk along a 3-kilometre plankwalk penetrating into a dense tropical jungle of Borneo. The journey would offer the visitors a wonderful and exotic experience, viewing the rich varieties of flora and fauna under the canopy of the virgin jungle.