Masjid-masjid di Miri, Sarawak (Mosques in Miri, Sarawak)

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

NOTE: This post was first written in 2013. Info deemed correct at that time. 

With population of more than 400,000, Miri is the second largest city in Sarawak. Moslems in Sarawak generally are Malays, Bruneians and Melanau and others who converted. They are minority group making up about 30% of Sarawak population. In Miri they live around Piasau, Lereng Bukit, Pulau Melayu and Luak Bay, whereas Chinese could be found in Jee Foh, Krokop and Pujut areas. In this posting, I will share some of the mosques in and around Miri, that I have visited during my tour of duty.

Masjid Jamek Miri

Constructed in 1955, probably the oldest mosque around in Miri. This masjid is popular among budget travelers who arrived in the city for the first time and has no place to go. Every Friday night, following kuliah maghrib, decent dinner are served not only to jemaah but also passers by regardless of race and religion. Same with every Ramadan times. A 4-star Hotel Mega and a mid-sized shopping center are located next to the masjid. The prayer hall is air-conditioned. North Yu Seng Road, where most happenings at night in Miri take place is just few steps away from mosque entrance. Halal restaurants are plenty around the masjid. Muara, Serai Wangi, Madly, SCR are few worth mentioning. There are some more behind Hotel Mega. If you walk further up along Jalan Merbau, you will come to Bintang Mall, where you can find fast food chains like KFC, MacDonalds, Pizza Hut, One Station, Coffee Beans, Big Apples, etc. This mall is a popular haunting for Brunei folks looking for excitement during their weekend.

Despite the name, there is no solat Jumaat here, as Masjid Attaqwa is nearby. Parking space is available but very limited. Access is from the back thru Sekolah Agama Rakyat entrance.

This is the first masjid I came with contact with when I first arrived in Miri during Ramadan 2010.

 

Masjid Attaqwa

Masid Attaqwa, with Hotel Imperial at the background

Being the official district masjid, this is masjid frequented by VIPs and politicians and state government officials attending official functions. The structure is quite old and maintenance are bad despite the status as district mosques. Carperts should haen been changed long time ago.

Parking are spacious. Not air-conditioned. Jumaat prayers are performed here. Within 5-10 minutes walking distance from the mosque are Imperial Hotel, Imperial shopping center, Miri City Fan, Pustaka Miri, Wisma Persekutuan, Wisma Kastam, Stadium Miri, Dewan Suarah and  are next to the mosque.

 

Masjid Annaim, Lutong

Masjid Annaim, Lutong, Miri

The biggest masjid north of Miri until Kuala Baram even up to Sungai Tujuh. The masjid is located in Lutong town, some 20 km from Miri city center. Lutong is home for Petronas Carigali and Shell Sarawak and because of this, every Friday, you could notice luxury imported cars filling up the car park.

The masjid epitomizes 1Malaysia concept as it co-exists with a church in the same plot of land. MYY Mall, a shopping mall under construction, is right in front of the entrance to the mosque.

Masjid Piasau Jaya

Masjid Nurul Ehsan, Piasau Jaya

Piasau is a mature neighborhood in Miri, populated mainly by Muslims. Retired government officers and teachers settled down here in a quiet and clean neighborhood full of trees and schools and this mosque. The mosque is huge and clean and recently carpeted (as of June 2012).  Ramadhan is a  ‘happening’ month for this mosque. A lot of parking space. A number of halal restaurants nearby — among them are De Kelate, Alamak, Global Ikhwan’s owned Restoran Ikhwan. Solat Jumaat is conducted weekly at this mosque.

Surau Lereng Bukit

Kampung Lereng Bukit is located alongside Miri-Lutong main road opposite Pelita Commercial Center. If you have been wondering why Miri is known as oil town, you will have easy time to guess what bukit (hill) the name of Kampung Lereng Bukit refers to. The first oil rig in Miri was  built on top of Canada Hill in 1910. From the hilltop you could see the whore Miri and environs and weather permitting, some offshore oil platforms. The kampung is mainly occupied by muslims from Malays and Melanau origins.

The surau is walking distance to Pelita Commercial Center where you can find Servay shopping center, Hotel Grand Palace, Hotel Imperial Palace, Secret Recipe, Cosway, etc. You must cross busy road though to get here.

Masjid Arrayyan, Tudan

Masjid Arrayyan in Tudan, Miri

This masjid is located north of Miri, in the neighborhood of Tudan about 15 minute drive from Miri downtown.  Working class and partly squatters from among Malays and Ibans co-exist in Tudan.  The masjid will be bustling with  activities comes Ramadhan.  Main prayers hall is  air-conditioned. It has a huge compound.

Fully air-conditioned. Limited parking space.  Jumaat prayers conducted here.

Masjid Padang Kerbau

Solat Jumaat is conducted here.

 

Masjid XXXX, Luak Bay

Going south along Tanjung Lobang road toward Bakam, you will come across this masjid.

Solat Jumaat is performed here.

Surau Kg Pulau Melayu

Pulau Melayu is located on a small peninsular between Miri River and South China Sea. Along the river, there are jetties, a gateway to offshore oil and gas platforms operated by PETRONAS Carigali and Shell Sarawak.

Solat Jumaat is performed here. Prayers hall fully air-conditioned.

Surau Darul Ikhlas, Lutong

Surau Darul Ikhlas near Lutong.Miri

This surau is located near Miri Crude Oil Terminal (MCOT) in Lutong, surrounded by villages forming early faces of Miri, along Jalan Miri-Kuala Baram. An old wooden structure, it is probably previously a double storey house  converted to a surau. Hidden from main road, the surau is not easy to find. You need to ask local folk.

Masjid IKBN, Miri

It is located in Permyjaya neighborhood, a fast growing  area of greater Miri.

Located deep inside Institut Kemahiran Belia Negara (IKBN) complex, it is frequented by folks living in the  nearby new housing estates, and of course, the staff quarters of IKBN. With the opening of Giant Permyjaya late 2011, the are has become more exciting.

Fully air-conditioned. A lot of parking space. You must pass by security checkpoint at the entrance of IKBN, which a wave of hand would do. If you are stopped, just say you are going to the masjid and they will let you go with no questions asked. Activities are aplenty especially for IKBN students and sometimes public are also invited, thank to dedicated team of ustaz and ustazah there, one of them I know quite well — Ustaz Azatul, a Perak man with Sarawak heart. At the time of writing, he is still there.

Surau Pujut 9

This is a small wooden surau. Perhaps known to local only as finding it not easy as it is nestled deep inside the Pujut 9. Every Sunday at 9am to 10am, Ustaz M Amin from Petronas Carigali  conduct Kuliah Ahad here, attended by few who are hungry of Islamic knowledge. Last time he was reading Tawhidul Am (Sifat 20).

NOTE: This post was first written in 2011. Info deemed correct at that time. 

Road trip Miri-Sibu-Saratok-Sri Aman-Serian-Kuching

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

Overview

Covering a distance of more than 1200 kms (one way), this is probably my second longest road trip ever, after my university days in Canada (I remember one hot summer where we skipped summer classes, rented a compact car with 4 friends and travelled from Winnipeg to Vancouver passing thru western Canada cities such as Regina and Calgary. Wait wait … there was another trip from Winnipeg to the South  (North Dakota, South Dakota) all the way to New Orleans, Lousiana, USA. Yes student days were so much fun and carefree, nothing to worry so long you got enough CGPA to offer to your sponsors).

Back to Malaysia. I believe this is the only way to explore Sarawak’s many cities and towns and villages and their inhabitants along the way.  Never mind the roads with potholes here and there, sceneries and places with strange names and sounds make you wonder about this big country. Yes it is a big country where dreams stay with you along the mountainside and riverside and roadside (remember some old song BIG COUNTRY?). Yes this country really big –running from northern tip to southern part of the Sarawak state.  I managed to stop by interesting towns like Bintulu, Sibu, Sarikei, Saratok, Sri Aman and Serian. Except  Sibu and Serian, most of Sarawak towns are off tangent from the main Miri-Kuching road a.k.a Pan Borneo Road.  It means you need to take a turn and travel some distance more to get to towns like Mukah, Sarikei, Bentong and Sri Aman. I have covered all these town in this trip, save Mukah. (Insyaallah Mukah trip next time).

This project took off in December 2011 during long school holidays.  We convoyed in 2 cars, or more specifically one car and one MPV.  Toyota Ipsum — fully loaded with kids and adults alike– was doing well until it reached Sibu. Kia Forte was proven on Sarawak roads except  on the return trip where I went into large pothole at 100kmph, puncturing both tyres at left side almost immediately and simultaneously. Changing tyres at dusk during light rain, some 80 kms towards Bintulu, near Tatau on Sibu-Bintulu stretch, was some kind of experience. Multiple attempts to jack up the car failed as the ground was soft and wet. Finally we made through after Adam kept saying and pushing: “Try and try and try. I don’t want to stay overnight here in the middle of Borneo nowhere”. Alhamdulillah we managed to replace the bad tyre without help and nobody had to sleep in the car by the roadside that night. Instead we managed to get to Bintulu town in a limping car (yes with one handicapped tyre) and spent a nigh there.

Sibu

Leaving Miri at 3pm in rain, we passed by Bekenu to reach Bintulu, some 210 kms from Miri. We passed Tatau, Selangau and finally arrived in Sibu at 9pm. Driving non-stop took a toll earlier than expected. Fatigues. Eyes were heavy and views were dimmed. We put up a night at Paramount Hotel in Sibu, on the way to Kuching. Sibu is a beautiful city by the big river – Batang (Sungai) Rejang, where we enjoyed the view only the next day, as we arrived already late at night.

River view of Sibu, from our hotel room.

 

 

 

 

 

Rejang River started in Sibu before going upstream to Kapit town.

Hotel Paramount in Sibu. We stayed here for a night en route to Kuching Sarawak.

 

 

 

Sibu is the third largest city in Sarawak — after Kuching and Miri — is more known for a wrong reason. A city of underworld activities and gangsterism. Foochow people live here alongside Melanau and Iban.  Sibu is also home for many timber tycoons with big “cables”.  Crime rate here is probably one of the highest in Malaysia alongside with Miri and Bintulu. Despite what has been written about the city, my one night 2 days in Sibu was  a peaceful one.  We savored sup pelir sapi at Taman Selera Harmoni, near the river.

The next morning, we continued the journey passing thru towns like Sarikei, Saratok, Betong, Sri Aman toward Kuching.

Saratok

Saratok is a small town, a bit detour from the main road Sibu – Kuching. It is a capital town of Betong Division, with a population of about 50K, mostly Iban people. Here are some photos I managed to snap on Saratok and nearby.

Hospital Saratok, Sarawak

 

 

We continued our journey toward Kuching passing villages and small towns in Sarawak. The life was so quiet and peaceful around here. One of the town we stopped by was Sri Aman.

Sri Aman

Sri Aman is the capital town of Sri Aman Division with a population of 120K. [Sri Aman is famous for the benak, or tidal bore, of the Batang Lupar River. The tidal bore comes in from the river mouth and fills up the river very rapidly in the course of about 10 minutes. The wave crest at Sri Aman is up to 2 to 3 metres high. This is one of approximately 48 rivers and estuaries in the world where this phenomenon happens. What is special about Sri Aman’s benak is that it occurs everyday, the only river in the world that does that.]*

*[excerpt from wikipedia]

Our car in this road trip

We came to see benak phenomenon at Sri Aman, but the timing was not right.

Batang Kupar River in Sri Aman, where benak occured every year,

We finally reached Kuching (Damai Puri Resort in Santubong area) at about maghrib time in heavy rain.  December and early January was the monsoon season in this part of the world. Rains and winds greeted us on our arrival.

Santubong (near Kuching, Sarawak)

Santubong is originally a small fishing village but one side of it (the mounstain side) is dotted with many beach resorts, popular with tourists seeking sand and sun. Santubong is about 40 minutes drive  north of Kuching.  Only one night there at Santubong. The next day we explored the villages nearby Santubong like Kg Buntal after checking out from Damai Puri Resort.

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Kuching City 

Leaving Santubong and its princess (tak sempat cari Puteri Santubong) our next destination was Kuching City, the largest and capital city in Sarawak. We checked in at one downtown hotel.

 

 

 

 

The following day, after exploring Kuching city, traveled to Bau town with main intention going to Serikin, near Kalimantan border, famous with barang dari seberang.  Unfortunately just after leaving Bau we had to make U-turn. The road was closed to small and light vehicles due to flood. It was raining throughout this trip, the especially on the return trip to Miri. So tak sampai Serikin eventually. Wan Nor was not happy and said she SHALL come back to this city. (Puncak Borneo was not in the agenda, maybe in the subsequent trip). However I managed to capture some photos on Bau town and Kota Sentosa town.

Bau and Kota Sentosa (near Kuching, Sarawak)

Kota Samarahan

When Serikin trip was canceled, Plan B was quickly developed. We planned to visit a friend of mine in Kota Samarahan, whom I knew from Yangon days when he was working with Malaysian Embassy there.

Kota Samarahan is home to the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS). From town of Bau, we got back to Kota Sentosa and off to Kota Samarahan. We managed to find ways to get to his house in Kota Samarahan. Meriah sangat bila jumpa kawan lama! Borak sampai tak ingat hari dah senja.

Masjid Darul Ikhlas, Kg Sindong Baru, Kota Samarahan, Sarawak

Kota Samarahan, Sarawak

Queuing for RORO ferry to cross the river

Queuing for RORO ferry to cross the river

Kompleks INTAN di Kota Samarahan

Kompleks INTAN di Kota Samarahan

Kota Samarahan

Wisma SALCRA Kota Samarahan

Ferry services across some Sarawak river near Kota Samarahan

That evening, all things done, we drove back to our hotel in Kuching city center.  The next morning, we started the trip back to Miri via the same road we came in. On the return trip we passed by Serian town and a stopover at Bintulu. There was a heavy rain in Serian and some stretches were flooded.

Serian

Serian is a capital town of Serian Division in Sarawak with its population of about 100K. It is only about 60 km from Kuching located on main road from Sibu/Sri Aman to Kuching.

A church with unique design along Pan Borneo highway. Semoga Allah beri hidayah kpd mereka.

A church in the middle of Borneo forest,

A road accident on Pan Borneo highway.

Croc infested lake in Serian Sarawak.

Serian town in Sarawak

An express bus plying Pan Borneo highway

That is the summary of this 5D-4N trip from Miri – Kuching and return. Enjoy the photos.

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Returning to Miri again

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

Miri in Sarawak is a beautiful city. On 5 July 2013, I returned to the city. I found this billboard greeting travellers to the city, while exiting Miri Airport (Airport code MYY).  It was a good feeling to be welcomed in the foreign place. Foreign in the sense that you must go thru immigration checkpoint once you landed in the Miri airport, eventhough you are Malaysian from KL or from other states within Malaysia.

I sure missed few things about Miri, one of them is nasi lalapan, others being road condition going out of city and its nearness to Brunei, which allows you to travel to the small wealthy kingdom with ease. I must say if there is two journeys I must undertake in Borneo, it would be Kuching-Pontianak and Sibu-Kapit.  Well, I will return this coming Malaysia Day to Miri.

By the way, one simple quiz to test your Malaysia knowledge; how many hours it takes for a bus ride from Sibu to Kapit?

Miri – halal food outlet

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

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Jasmine Cafe is hidden from main roads in Miri downtown area. It is located in between rows of shophouses, along North Yu Seng Rd. Just turn left after Imperial Hotel. Jasmine Cafe serves chinese and local dishes at a reasonable price. Indonesian waitresses are friendly too. Fully airconditioned. Certified halal by JAKIM as of this posting. (Feb 2013).

Morning rush hour in Miri City

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

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View of a road dividing SK and SM St Columba in Miri, Sarawak. Schools start early in Miri, where sunrise occurs at about 630am. At this time of the day, roads in Miri are congested with cars with schoolchildren, driven by their parents. Well, kids are the best long-term investment a man could ever have.