Miri: 22-25 April 2011

27
Miri for Miserable!
That pretty much sums up my trip (except for the diving and waterfall).

Day 1: 22 April - Arrival

This was my second trip to Miri. I fly by Airasia so there was no free food on the plane. I was very hungry by the time I arrived but I had to stop at dive centre (Red Monkey Divers) to place a RM50 deposit for my dive the next day. After that, I went straight to the cafe where I had a nice plate of chicken chop the last time. But this time, I think it was too salty. The fries were laden with salt too. The ice coffee, however, was great.

Chicken chop opposite Mega Hotel


I chose to stay at Dragon Inn. I read online that it's a new budget hotel. I made an email reservation prior to my trip but the receptionist said they do not take reservations online. Strange. I wonder who it was who replied to confirm my reservation! The receptionist said I could have a room on the first level. I requested for a room on the second level instead. Usually rooms on lower levels are utilised more frequently and therefore older. There's no lift, so I took the stairs.

Stairs in Dragon Inn


Corridor of Dragon Inn


Room in Dragon Inn


Room in Dragon Inn


Bathroom in Dragon Inn


Bathroom in Dragon Inn


I walked over to the Imperial Mall Shopping Complex - 5 minutes' walk away. There's not much in there but pirated DVD's and a cybercafe if you need to use a computer. I didn't see this shop the last time I was here: a sex toy shop! I wonder how long the authorities will take to close this shop down... maybe as long as it would take to close the pirated DVD shops down.

Sex Gadget Shop in Imperial Mall Shopping Complex




I tend to be exceptionally greedy when I'm overseas. I was looking for the shop beside Imperial Mall that sold chocolate balls but it's been replaced by a food shop so I ate this instead:

The chilli is great!


There are many choices of unhealthy food in Miri. Here's one shop that claims that its unhealthy food is healthy.

Unhealthy food


And fruit in this town isn't what it seems.

How about some fruit?




On sunset, I walked to the waterfront. This is one of the places that could look very nice in pictures.
Waterfront


Waterfront


But the reality isn't that nice. It stinks! There are houses by the side and I think they've a natural sewage system.

People eat by this stinking place


Houses by the side


I went back to the hotel hoping to get a good night's rest before my dive. Unfortunately, I could hear all the activities going on in the entire hotel. There was also the sound of pipes humming throughout the night. At 2.15am, I couldn't take it any more. I went to the reception. Unforunately for the 2 guys on duty, I had to wake them up. I asked for a refund and told them about the constant humming noise in my room. One guy said it's actually a spare room! He didn't return the night's fee to me. He said he would refer the problem to the manager the next day. He said the manager would come in the morning. He did return the deposit to me though and called up another hotel, Kingwood hotel, which was nearby to ask if they had vacancies (they did but the room rate was rather high). I said I would take the room key with me and return the next day - actually just later the same day - to speak with the manager.

There were people sitting at the pubs along the street. The streets felt safe even at that hour.

I walked over to Cosy Inn which I stayed at on my previous trip. They were full. So I walked back to the recommended Kingwood hotel. The room was big but old. Rust came out of the tap when I turned it on. The room and bed was comfortable enough though.

Kingwood Hotel


Kingwood Hotel


The room was on the 2nd floor and rather close to the main road so it was noisy. It also sounded like some car or motorbike had parked in front of the hotel and left the engine running. When I managed to sleep, Muslim prayers were broadcast about 4.45am in the morning. It went on for what seemed like eternity. I only managed to sleep after it ended.

Day 2: 23 April - Diving

I checked out of the hotel in the morning. I wasn't going to pay so much to stay at a place that doesn't even provide clean water. I didn't even brush my teeth or shower. Anyway, I was going to dive so it wouldn't matter how I smelled. Better to have bad breath than swallow rust.

Before heading to the jetty, I stopped by Cosy Inn to ask whether they would have vacanies that night. I made a reservation with them.

I had to bring my bag on the dive boat though. There was a dry compartment so I put my bag in there. (If you know me, I don't usually bring a large bag for my vacations. It wasn't a problem putting my bag into the compartment.)

One of the divers stayed at Dragon Inn too. He said he didn't hear a sound last night! Guys usually sleep like logs!

I had the privilege of buddying up with the dive master/instructor/boat owner since I was the odd one out. His nephew who drives the boat had grown his hair long. The last time I saw him he had short hair. I wonder how he manages all that hair with the wind blowing at it all the time.

It was drizzling a little over certain parts of the sea. We even drove through a rainbow. There was no pot of gold though :( The rainbow just disappeared after we drove through it.

Diving was great! Visibility at 2 of 3 of the dive sites was very good. Kenyalang Group site was fantastic - a fallen rig is home to many different varieties of fish. I should mention a cute and show-off cuttlefish at the dive site called Siwa. It was proudly showing off its camouflage transitions which a Japanese diver caught close-up on his video camera. If you read my previous Miri post, I also saw a cuttlefish at Siwa on my previous dive.

The diver who was staying at Dragon Inn gave me a ride back to town. I had to go back to Dragon Inn to ask for a refund. The receptionist there was the same one who I spoke with when I checked in. She said she heard about my case and told me that it was my fault for not taking the room on the first floor which she suggested. I said that she did not mention that the room on the 2nd floor would have such loud humming sound throughout the night. Then she said it was renovation and pointed to a renovation notice on the wall. I told her it wasn't renovation because it was throughout the whole night. Next, she said it was the aircon or traffic. I told her it wasn't. It was a sound from within the room like water pipes humming. A cleaner who happened to be there confirmed that it was the water pipe. So now the receptionist said that the manager was in Italy and won't be back so soon, can't be reached, and she spoke with the manager already and the manager said I couldn't get a refund, and I should have told her earlier. So well, basically it was all my fault for not informing them earlier that there was a constant and loud humming sound in the room, and for selecting that room. I requested that she speak with the manager again to explain what it was since she neither of them previously understood what noise I was referring to but now the receptionist does. She said she would if the manager happens to call back to the hotel the next day. She asked that I return the key. I said I wouldn't return it until the matter is resolved. I also added that she would also have another copy of the key anyway. She obviously wasn't happy and neither was I. I said I would return the next day to enquire about the status of my request.

I checked in at Cosy Inn. It's cheap and basic. Certainly not new.

Cosy Inn


Cosy Inn


View from my room at Cosy Inn


Small park and cafe behind Cosy Inn


The quality of sleep was ok. I could not hear any prayer broadcast but there was some noise from people who parked behind the hotel.


Day 3: 24 April - Lambir Hills National Park

I wanted to take a tourist bus to Lambir Hills National Park so I walked to the bus terminal. 2 years ago, I took that bus to Niah Caves.

Along the way, I passed the market. There's a "drive through" section where divers can buy vegetables from roadside grocers.

"Drive through" market


Wet market


Cooked food section of market


These buns caught my eye so I bought some




The attendant at the bus terminal - who happened to be the same man whom I spoke with 2 years ago - told me that the tourist bus service had been terminated due to lack of tourists. I understood what he meant: the last time I was the only tourist on the bus. He said I could take a local bus to the long distance terminal, then take a long distance bus to the park. While waiting for the bus, a man approached me and asked where I was going. He said he could get me a private car to get me to the park. He looked dirty and wasn't wearing any shoes so I asked him who was going to be driving. He said it was his son. So I went with him to the car where he called a young guy to drive. The rate quoted was cheaper than a normal taxi. The car was comfortable too.

I reached the park very early. I looked at the guest register log: I was the 2nd guest there. I asked the man at the ticketing counter for directions to get to the waterfall. He adviced that Latak waterfall is the best for swimming and picnics.

Map of Lambir Hills National Park


A bridge on the way to Latak Waterfall


Waterfall #1


Waterfall #2


Another old bridge


After a 20-minute leisurely walk, I reached Latak waterfall. I was there before 10am. There wasn't anyone else. It felt deserted enough to skinny dip!

Latak Waterfall




5 minutes later, 2 cleaners arrived. Thank goodness I had my clothes on. They came to mop the tables and chairs. Of course, the washed the mops in the river. Where else would they get water from?

I changed into my bikini, using my towel to cover myself instead of using the toilet (I hate dirty toilets).



The water was very very cold but once I jumped in it was really ok. The pool was deep. The water was clear and felt fresh.

More people starting arriving after 10.30am to swim, picnic and play games.





After my skin started getting wrinkly, I changed back into my dry clothes (again, using towels), ate my buns, and then did some trekking.



I wanted to climb this tree tower and got myself ready for it. There was the usual climb at your own risk warning.

Tree tower


Tree tower: climb at your own risk


But look at the steps of the tree tower! It would be silly to attempt to climb this tower!

Steps of the tree tower


So I continued trekking. The forest reserve is large. I only walked a small section of it before it started raining heavily. I was at least 30 minutes away from the park headquarters. I had an umbrella with me so it wasn't so bad but my shoes were soaked through. I could stop at a shelter but the longer I waited, the most slippery the ground was going to be. And there was no telling how long it would pour.

Treks




I was glad to finally reach the park headquarters. I wanted to call for a taxi. The staff there advised that if I called a taxi, the taxi would have to drive all the way up here and it would be a long wait. He said I could catch a long distance bus back to town and the frequency was good. I asked how I would recognise the bus and how much it would cost. He said that there was only 1 bus. Just flag any bus that I see. I only waited 10 minutes for the bus.



On the bus


The long distance bus stopped at the long distance bus terminal. There wasn't any problem getting a taxi to the hotel because the taxi drivers stood by the bus and asked you whether the alighting passengers whether they needed a taxi. I wanted to get back to the hotel asap to shower and change. Along the way, I noticed a new mall. So I walked to this mall after I'd changed. The Bintang Mega Mall is much newer than the Imperial mall. There are department shops, fast food outlets, coffee joints, a cybercafe, bowling alley, shop selling shoes, clothes, etc. (but no sex gadget shop)

Mall


Cinema is not ready yet


Bowling alley is functional


Competition




Electronic shops on the top level




Instead of having the American coffee in the mall, I ordered a Teh Tarik at a cafe beside the mall.

Cafe


Teh Tarik


I walked through the mall to get back to the hotel. I noticed a new-looking hotel, The Garden Inn, just behind the mall. I took down their rates.

Back view of the mall


The Garden Inn








It was fortunate that I had noted the new hotel because when I got back to Cosy Inn, I had a visitation from a huge cockroach while I was shampooing. I washed the shampoo off my hair, put on my clothes and went to the reception. The receptionist told the houseboy to give me a can of insecticide. I asked her whether I was supposed to kill it myself. Then she asked the houseboy to go up with me to kill it for me.

But the cockroach had vanished by the time he got there. I took my bags down and asked for a refund. The receptionist gave me the key to the next room and said I could change room. I refused because the cockroach could have gone to the next room. I asked again for a refund and she did give it to me.

So I walked back over to Garden Inn. They had vacant rooms. I was tempted to take the one with this fantastic view.



>



But I asked the receptionist whether morning prayers can be heard. He honestly told me yes. So I chose a room without a window - which was cheaper anyway. I managed to sleep soundly. The hotel was about 6 months old only so everything was new and clean. I should mention that the designer shower was powerful and a great-to-have for a budget hotel.













Most of the hotels here are really crappy so Garden Inn was certainly a good break from the filth and noise!

One of the terrible-looking hotels



Day 4: 25 April - Return


I was glad to return to Singapore, to my clean, wonderful home with a great toilet and no Muslim prayer broadcast in the morning. I pre-ordered in-flight food on Airasia. I like their Chicken Briyani.

I didn't manage to get a refund from Dragon Inn. I returned their key anyway. I wouldn't recommend the hotel to people who are easily disturbed by noise and the morning prayer broadcast. I will never stay there again.

In fact, if not for the diving you'll never ever find me in Miri again!


Note: It is not that I'm against Islam. If the Christian or people of any religious or non-religious organisations made noise at 4 plus in the morning, I would be just as irritated.


Cost
2-way flight including taxes and convenience fee $147

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why go to Miri where there really is nothing other than oil off shore and that made the rivers stink with oily discharge.

Yu-Kym said...

The answer to your question was already in the first paragraph of my post.

David said...

Yu-Kym,

A mix of good an bad.

If the diving was fun then the main reason for your trip is fullfilled. The national park looked like there was some nice scenery. That tree tower looked very unsafe.

Hotels can be problematic.

I will be in Ohio starting Monday and staying at a Hampton Inn, a part of the Hilton chain.

Most large hotel chains here in the States are reliable. Decent to very nice rooms, good internet and a good free breakfast.

A mall is a ten minute walk so I will walk there in the evenings for a coffee and to read a magazine or book at the bookstore in the mall. A Starbucks it located there so I am happy!

Any dive photos coming?

David

Without God man has no reference point to define himself. 20th
century philosophy manifests the chaos of man seeking to
understand himself as a creature with dignity while having no
reference point for that dignity.


-- R. C. Sproul

Anonymous said...

You meant you went for the trip alone???

-c

Anonymous said...

I must say you were VERY DARING to take unlicensed transport to the Lambir National Park. Were you not worried at all that the young man could have driven you to an isolated spot (which there is no shortage of on the way to the National Park) and rape you?

Anonymous said...

Ah looking for excitment and might have already prepared with the protective rubber.

Unfortunately, the young man wasn't interested for a quicki in the taxi. A real disappointment.

Perhaps a quicki in the bush at the waterfall may be interesting. But it rained. A bit difficult to do it when it becomes a mud slide.

Anonymous said...

not daring lah, is pure ignorant..she seems to enjoy this type of feats and sense of accomplishment..just like look people, how gutsy i am...no offence hor.

Anonymous said...

A sexpert afraid of rape?!

You must be kidding!

silli silli

Anonymous said...

You must be a moron to think that any right-minded girl especially a class girl the likes of Yu-Kym loves being raped or not afraid of being sexually violated! Maybe you havent been raped yourself and you should get your arsehole ripped open.

Although I dont feel comfortable with Yu-Kym's apparent lone adventures to remote places, her seemingly rash actions are borne out of certain self needs. I can only wish her safe journeys and to use her head always. But sometimes, having a brain is still not enough when you run out of luck.

I can suspect the likely reasons for her going it alone in her quick sojourns at exotic destinations and can even suggest alternative distractions for her dangerous liaisons but I think she is one helluva stubborn girl. She wont listen. We can only worry for her.

Pls be safe Yu-Kym. No one except for that silli moron Con-Mic wants you hurt.

silli cat

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah. The rapist will be sucked dry in no time before he knows what hit him! Go limp in no time before his body juice all gone!

Anonymous said...

She must be sick of Sillipore facing all those concrete jungle of match-box HDB all the time.

Anonymous said...

Yu-Kym

I re-read your account of the trip. Some contributors are concerned about your safety. Some others are not and even poke fun and wish you harm in a potentially unpleasant situation.

A number of situations you encounter during the trip still worries me. But I just refer to one.

But I know you are stubborn and will not always listen to advice. So I will try this tack.

You are at the waterfall alone. Supposing a group of men chance upon you then. After a while you feel from the way they behave something is not quite right. Before you can make a hasty departure, they surround you.

What would you do?

The fact is that you already said that you were at the waterfall alone and had toyed with the idea of skinny dipping until the cleaners came. So dont say that you wont get into a situation or it wont happen to you etc.

If you can convince that you can get out of trouble, then perhaps David and I know that you can really really take care of yourself.

If you cant, I suggest you think long and hard look, review and change the way you conduct your trips.

silli cat

Anonymous said...

Silli cat, don't forget that Annabel Chong can handle 500 men in one go and she is a Silliporean.

You are simply sheding crocodile tears!

Anonymous said...

hey yu-kym.
im sorry to tell u this.
im from kuching and i visited miri b4.
im a muslim.
i dont even care if u dont like miri but plis dont say a thing about any of muslim prayer that u can heard from miri.
u r actually racism !!!
u actually visit a place with a negative thinking !
that shud not be one of ur trip but one of ur bullshit trip maybe u r one of the health committee !! sorry to say this. good luck !!!!

Anonymous said...

And I am from Kuching. From my window I can see the Golden Doom of the State Mosque.

And I must say I don't need an alarm clock to get up at 6 a.m. Some people think 6am is too early but I like to wake up at 6 a.m. to study, nice & fresh!

Luckily the singing doesn't start at 4 or 5 a.m. Perhaps Muslims also need to sleep too! Too sleepy to pray ah!

Anonymous said...

Hey Muslim,

I am sorry to have to say this to you too. I have Muslim friends and I respect the teachings of Islam. Great friends and a great religion too. But with the way you think, jump into hasty conclusions and misinterprete things, you are likely to advertise the kind of Muslims that give all Muslims a bad name.

Whether it is Muslim prayers, taoist or buddhist chantings, christian choir, anything that is loud and disturbs Yu-Kym's precious slumber would have received her negative comment. I would have also detested anything that disturbs my sleep. So its not about religion here and Yu-Kym clearly qualified so in her remarks.

Please dont be so fanatic in your beliefs that they cloud your judgement of what is actually a general non-partisan innocent comment.

I am sure as a good Muslim you are an upright human being...not those failures and society and God rejects the likes of Con-Mic. With this poor fella, no religion will save him.

silli cat

Anonymous said...

If u do drop by Miri for the 3rd time for diving, drop me a email: - my family dun mind accomodate you during yr trip here (if safety reason is the main pt). By far, I felt u sort of enjoy the trip except the constant changing of hotels ;) workswheel@yahoo.com

Matsusan.

Anonymous said...

It would be nice for Muslims and Mosque to catch up with the times.

In churches, we now have pop music band singing hyms.

So how about broadcasting pop music with the morning call to prayer like "Ala.. Jesus... abba.." twang, twang follow by kitas?! That will sound better.

Hannah said...

Love your travel posts ! :)

Anonymous said...

Seems like you love to travel alone. Do you mind sharing with us about your dangerous encounter, or you are always this lucky?

Also, do you have tips for females to travel alone?

I would love to travel alone but yea...I am really afraid that I won't come back in one place :(

Anywhere outside Singapore just seem so dangerous to me.

Shannon Lee.

Anonymous said...

Shannon,

Even in Singapore it can be dangerous if you start wandering alone into the Mandai or Kranji forests for egs and you chance upon a group of men who sees power in their hands over you, a young fragile hapless girl.

And if you are in your bikini or worse still like Yu-Kym skinny dipping in the pond in the middle of nowhere and one of these men becomes berserk and reckless and start to have imaginations on you, what do you think will happen to you? The whole group will likely be upon you in no time.

I think Yu-Kym would be the worst person to obtain tips about travelling alone. I think she has been lucky so far.

Please do not travel alone and take chances in risky places especially if you are a pretty girl
like Yu-Kym.

If one is ugly, there is no guarantee either. Frustrated fellas like Con-Mic dont know the difference. Any hole will do, even underground black holes. lol

Silli cat

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David said...

Silli Cat & all the anons.

Yu-Kym likely can take care of herself.

Like any smart traveler she does not reveal here or elsewhere how she protects herself.

I suppose one can find out by following her around in SG, sneaking up on her and then try something.

Her reaction just might surprise a few.

Be careful out there!

David

Anonymous said...

David,

I am astonished!

Tell me how should a skinny dipping Yu-Kym take care of herself in the middle of a deserted jungle waterfall with a group of salivating men that had just chanced upon her?

And what kind of brutally honest blog is hers if she refrains from revealing information that may be of interest to others? And what more.... information that could help the safety of lone female travellers like Shannon?

Sometimes David, I need to understand your logic better. keke

silli cat

David said...

Silli Cat,

You refered to a hypothetical skinny dipping Yu-Kym.

I do not believe Ms. Loh has ever written about skinny dipping.

Yu-Kym knows when discretion is required.

She has to keep her allure alive.

David

Anonymous said...

David,

One, Yu-Kym did write about her temptation to skinny dip. Pls re-read her article.

Second, even if it's only hypothetical and/or she isnt skinny dipping, it still does not explain your apparent enormous confidence in her to take care of herself alone in the midst of a remote forest with a bunch of lusty males.

Last but not least, what kind of discretion did Yu-Kym exhibit by venturing alone into a remote jungle waterfall alone?

silli cat

Pam Fam said...

Hi I'm from Miri. I was actually browsing the Internet for some shop I can stop by when I'm back to Miri, which will be this Friday (yay!). So I bumped into this post, and frankly I couldn't stop reading it. I have to agree with the author, most hotels and inns around Miri are pretty old and most of them unfortunately employed staff who are not well trained for hospitality. Development is still ongoing for Miri city, and city maintenance as well. Miri is a beautiful town, there are still some rural or should I say, untouched beauty away from the town area. In fact, the diving spot in Miri is only for divers but no further development is allowed, which is good. Honestly I wished these places will be kept untouched. I would suggest tourists to go to Mulu National Park from Miri, its one of the closest route from Miri, whether by flight or the more adventurous route via river and off-road track. And if you want something more laid back, go Miri in May, you can go for the Borneo jazz festival, http://jazzborneo.com/about/, wine tasting, good music and lounge all you want! Don't get me wrong, I'm not working for any of these organisers, just sharing what I am excited about my hometown, something worthy. Don't stay too long though, one can get real bored there. Anyway, good read, thanks miss yu-Kym.

By the way, to the Muslim commenter from Kuching, read and understand what the author is sharing about before calling her a racist. Don't use the 'Miri' as the defence of your religion. The religion is fine, it's just people like you getting overly sensitive about other peoples' adaptability and preference. Oh yes, Muslim is not a race, it's a religion. The right word should be discriminate, and guess who is discriminating who.