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"Sibu is where the rivers Rajang and Igan merge. Sibu is mainly populated by people of Chinese descent, especially from Fuzhou. About 180,000 people live in Sibu. This influx of Foochow Chinese people has led to Sibu being colloquially referred to as “New Fuzhou”."

Sibu is the largest port city and it is the commercial center in the lowlands of the Rajang River. It is the gateway to Central Sarawak. Sibu is located at the confluence of the Rajang and Igan rivers, about 130 kilometers from the South China Sea. Sibu is a thriving, modern city with a vibrant center and a bustling, busy waterfront.
In Sibu you feel more "down to earth" than relaxed Kuching. There is still something of the pioneer atmosphere about the city and the people are direct, with clear language and they are very friendly. Of course, their laughter is partly due to the fact that Sibu has more millionares per capita than any other town in Borneo.

The mighty Rajang River, nearly 1,000 miles long and a mile wide, is the dominant feature of the city, and a hotel room overlooking the river is highly recommended due to the lively waterfront and river traffic . The view of the river is a source of constant activity, with large ocean-going vessels arriving tactfully maneuvering between fast boats and small sampans. The sunsets on the Rajang can be truly spectacular.

Sibu is not only a fascinating city with its excellent road, air and inland waterway connections, but it is also the ideal base for exploring the entire Rajang lowlands, from the coastal town of Mukah to the farthest reaches of the upper catchment area of the Rajang, 600 km upstream.


The inhabitants of Sibu are mainly Ibans, Melanau and Orang Ulu, also Foochow Chinese, who come from the Fuzhou region of southern China. Hence, the city is often referred to as New Fuzhou. However, the ethnic mix in Sibu is as varied as anywhere else in Borneo, with smaller groups of Chinese with a different dialect.

Sibu was founded by James Brooke in 1862 when he built a fortress in the city to repel attacks from the indigenous Dayak people. Until the early 19th century, Sibu was a sleepy trading settlement in the lower part of the Rajang River. The city is named after the rambutan (buah Sibau in Iban language), which grew locally.
Sibu changed in 1901 with the arrival of the first Foochow settlers from South China, led by the Reverend Wong Nai Siong. Reverend Wong was a Methodist missionary and he sought a safe area for his followers, as there was a religious persecution in China. In 1903 the Chinese started to build their first houses in Sibu.
The early Chinese settlers grew rice, but it soon became apparent that the soil was unsuitable for rice, and they turned their attention to pepper, rubber, and gambier (a sticky resin used in place of rubber).
Sibu's progress took off in the early 1950s, with the advent of mechanized logging. The city became the main center for the timber industry in Sarawak. Huge fortunes were made by enterprising loggers. From the 1960s to the late 1980s Sibu took over the timber trade and manufacturing industries such as sawmill, plywood manufacturing and even shipyards were established.

The swan the symbol of Sibu

A gradual decline in the timber industry began in the early 1990s, when more sustainable logging was introduced and timber quotas were imposed. However, the city continued to grow due to its strategic importance as the main port and commercial center for the entire Rajang lowlands.

Sibu is the main tourist gateway to the upper Rajang River stream. Here are small river villages and many longhouses of Iban and Orang Ulu. Some of the interesting villages in central Sarawak are Kanowit, Song and Kapit. The villages can be reached from Sibu by express boats from the Sibu Express Wharf Terminal. No trip to the Sibu area is complete without taking the opportunity to visit a & # 8203; & # 8203; longhouse to experience the many traditional customs of the Iban. On arrival at Longhouse, the Ibans usually welcome their guests with traditional rice wine. Visitors can try to reach out with a blowpipe, weave a Pua Kumbu, feast on traditional Iban pastries such as Chuan and Sarang Semut, enjoy the longhouse environment and the scenery of the vast paddy field and Rajang River.

Among the notable landmarks in Sibu are Wisma Sanyan, the tallest building in Sarawak (126 meters), from which one jumps with a parachute (base jump). The Lanang Bridge is one of the longest river bridges in Sarawak and Malaysia's largest city square at the Wisma Sanyan.
Other interesting sights and attractions include: Sungai Merah Heritage Walk, Tua Pek Kong Temple, Sibu Gateway, Gu Tian Gardens, Hoover Memorial Garden, Bukit Lima Forest Park, Forestry Recreation Park, Bukit Aup Jubilee Park, and the Sibu Heritage Center.

The Sibu Central Market is the largest covered market in Malaysia with over 1,200 hawker stalls, where you can buy local produce. & nbsp; In the evening you can visit the Sibu Night Market, which is open every night except heavy rain. You can buy clothes, souvenirs and many other products here.

You probably won't go to Sibu for the shopping; but if you want to shop a little less, the following shopping centers are well worth a visit: Wisma Sanyan, Sarawak House, Medan Mall, Kin Orient Plaza, Farley Departmental Store, Sing Kwong, Delta Mall and the Star Mega Mall.





   Ben van Wijnen


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