Sunday, September 30, 2007

Tanjung Similajau, Bintulu

It has been quite some time since I last visited Tanjung Similajau located north of Borneo, Sarawak. I was there recently, 18th September, and had the opportunity to trace back my footsteps when I first set foot on this place back in 1999.

I remembered back in 1999, to reach Tanjung Similajau one had to endure some rather long miles of uncomfortable 4WD rides on oil palm dirt roads – maintained only sufficiently to allow for daily business ongoing of the plantation industry of the area – and all the while your journey is canvassed with oceans upon oceans of what seemed to be endless, mundane greenery known to all as oil palm trees. The Similajau region still is very much covered with this profit-making phenomenon, thanks to the ruling Government’s policy of maintaining the industry as one of the country’s main international export commodity. CPO’s the word.

To the south of Tanjung Similajau is Similajau National Park – a totally protected area under the Malaysian and Sarawak laws - separated from the former by the Similajau River. I myself have not been inside Similajau National Park – I have only knocked on its entry gate to look for directions, not that anyone is there to be asked – so yes, the entire park and its paraphernalia is an absolute mystery to me. As for Similajau River, of late it has been making some minor local media headlines owing to the rather rampant crocodile attacks that made the river much feared by the locals, and those who have heard of the news. Well maybe rampant is too strong a word. On the rise sounds less intimidating.

I took a stroll down memory lane that day of the 18th, almost tracing back my footsteps almost eight years ago now. I walked from the Tanjung heading northeast towards Tanjung Borgam just a kilometer away, and only stopped short of the edge of the beach going to Wiser Bay. The stretch of beach area from Tanjung Similajau up to Wiser Bay is, how shall I say it, nothing to shout about or carve in your journal as one of the best discoveries of the millenia. As to how Wiser Bay got its name, best to point that question to Mr. Wiser or Mr. Bay.

The Tanjung Similajau area harbours within me a certain kind of saddened question – what’s to become of this not-so-enchanting logged-over secondary forest at the edge of civilization in the years to come? I sometimes wonder, what does a little patch of forest has to have to get a certain kind of “recognition” to elevate itself from the realms of annihilation and be preserved for the so-called future generation? Of course some would argue scientifically that an area has to have certain scientific criteria, biologically and in terms of the abundance of flora, fauna, species recorded in literatures and what-not. Rules and regulations made by humans, obviously for the convenience of humans.
I leave you with these photographs I captured on the 18th. Maybe one day it will be appreciated as part of a legacy of a place that never ever was anything much in any part of any history at any time. Nevertheless I consider these photographs to represent what Tanjung Similajau visualized itself to be, and what it wishes to remain as, if it could ever defended itself in the Court of Development Justice.

Tanjung Similajau, Tanjung Borgam and Wiser Bay can be reached by road via the Bintulu-Miri coastal road to the northeast of Bintulu town, a 60-KM drive away. There will be signboards along the way to point you to the right direction. The road is dual lane, tar-sealed all the way to the edge of the beachfront of Tanjung Similajau, so you could use a saloon car to go up there. No entry fees required, just make sure you take your rubbish with you when you leave.

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