Monday, June 13, 2005


Another exotic location in my travel log to be added, as part of where SAP projects take me to.

Haven't been to East malaysia before (nor could I recall my trip to Kuching 9 years ago), I was as usual having the anxieties of a usual traveller in regards to Bintulu ie. how is the hotel, is the food good, what is there to do or see, will I suffer from boredom, etc.?

Upon boarding the plane with my little travelling family, there seems to be a decent variety of people in the plane ie. expats and families (probably similar to my situation of wife not wanting leave my side), locals, students, working malaysians and tourists (!!). A plane of unworthy praise, with a layout seating of 3 by 3. Due to my baby, our seatings were separated so that wife an baby could have the first row. But luck behold, the next seat was somehow left empty ie. either a no-show passenger or stroke of coincidence, I took it of course.... yea..... joined at last. Wanted the kids meal but stewardess claimed children below 2 are only entitled to infant meal (as paying 10% of flight cost). Still, after some discussion, came some bread and butter, potato salad and cake.

At immigration, was surprised that I only need to produce IC and signed on 3 month permit of sort. Thought Malaysians are malaysians and don't require permits for any states. Well, I guess east and west have their reservations. Not even sure why east malaysians are given better treatment in singapore ie. more permit duration and easier going tax treatments.

Taxis are about RM20++ to the town area which takes about barely 30 mins to my hotel. Taxi system here is not very controlled. No meters are installed and require some negotiation skills. Taxis are always haggling for fixed customers travelling to and from work and hotel.

My hotel Parkcity Everly was supposedly the best Bintulu could offer and turned out to be barely 4 star standard (KL standard) but was decent enough with big outdoor pool, 1 restaurant and 1 cafe. Breakfast spread is good and tasty ie. fresh egg stall, dim sum, laksa/local delights, breads and jams/butter, juices, fruits, yoghurts, porridge, etc..

Lifestyle is pretty tame.... no major shopping centers ie. mostly shops and mini markets here and there. Restaurants are spread out and are not very enthusiastic. I had some bad food experiences (Peace Garden restaurant) as well as good (Apple restaurant in same area Parkcity). Local vege is called Bidin which is best fried with belachan.... which looks interesting as it's curled up at the ends. It has that slight-slimy after-feeling upon eating.

Considering the laid back town, prices here are the same as KL ie. groceries and food..... seems to be tough on the lower income majority here. It's no wonder the retail and food business here is lacking in energy, it probably only caters to a small percentage of tourists/higher income earners.

After a few Q&A with locals and tourists alike, I've decided to stay put around my hotel area and not venture out anywhere hoping for a good touristic time ie. just take it easy and not get stressed unnecessarily. So far, the usual recommendations are to Niah caves (1.5 hours drive) or even to far off Miri town (3 hours drive). Having to try different food outside of the hotel is adventure enough for me.

Overall, I must say the town is decent and non-exciting.... great for peace loving individuals or families. There isn't any traffic jams, no rush, no night life.... no distractions.... just life at its own pace.

Some food pics will be coming soon.... some are misses and some good hits.

Peace Garden restaurant at Parkcity area - overall bad service and tasteless food, questionable hygiene.

Apple restaurant in Parkcity area (next to hotel) - this is a far cry from the previous restaurant, much better service, cleaner environment and superb dishes. Ordered the steam cod fish, fried local bidin vege with garlic, apple chicken, stuffed prawn balls in tofu stew and signature dessert coconut pudding. All in all cost about RM55. The pudding was superb ie. light, not too sweet similar to tau foo fa.

M&D's restaurant in my hotel (Parkcity Everly)..... not too bad considering they are specially cooked for us (not on the menu).... chicken with ginger, fried local vege bidin in belachan and black pepper beef (total RM40)

Happy Garden restaurant in Medan Jaya area -
Another recommendation for chinese food. Had the Sabah vege, roast duck, seafood soup and fried cod fish.


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