Thursday, July 31, 2014

Miri Stopover

Miri is not a standalone travel hotspot, but more to a transit city which is  always linked to Mulu National Park, Niah Cave, or even Brunei. Our initial plan was to visit Miri together with Mulu National Park. While our Mulu trip pending, we got our chance to visit Miri with a five-hour-stopover on our flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu.

First stop, the Grand-Old-Lady. Why? Miri is well-known as the city of oil, where the first oil well in Malaysia was drilled in 1910. The location, right on top of Canada Hill. The Grand-Old-Lady is the name dubbed to that very first oil well. Abandoned in 1972, the well produced a volume of 660,000 barrels of oil. 

Of course, the original structure of the well is long gone. What stands still on the original location of the well is a 30 meters high replica. A petroleum museum was built right beside the well. The museum opens at 9 am - 4:45 pm on Tuesday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday and Sunday, while close on Monday and the first day of public holiday. Confusing, isn't it? That's the price to pay to enter a zero-entrance-fee museum. We didn't manage to enter museum. We were 45 minutes late.

Another attraction on Canada Hill, right beside the Grand Old Lady, is the landscape view on Miri City. We were lucky to catch the breathtaking scenery in haze, so the amazement cut by half. It should be great in a clear day, especially during the sunset. So, by combining all three- the well, the museum, and the city view, it is a must visit place in Miri.

The journey uphill by car is easy. Just take Setia Raja Road (by Miri Pujut Road, 300 meters from Bintang Megamall) towards the hill, start the climb, and keep right at the big junction. You can reach the site in about 5 minutes. By foot, it might take up to 45 minutes to climb the hill. Good information about this place is available at and

The Grand Old Lady marks the location of the first oil well in Miri. More than 600 wells were drilled after that.

Scenery around the Grand Old Lady.

Petroleum Museum was closed during our visit.

The haze took away the glory of Miri City. In a clear day, South China Sea can be seen clearly from this point.

By the way, the place might be quite crowdy in the late afternoon. Food and beverages were only available at the Hazard Bistro. We didn't step into the bistro due to time constraint, but the view there should be good for the location to overlook the whole Miri City. Please bring along an umbrella if you plan to walk to Grand Old Lady. Taxi and bus services were not available at the place. So, the best way to get a taxi from that place back to Miri City is- go to Grand Old Lady by taxi from Miri City and tell the driver to wait for you while you tour around the place.

Our second stop- Tanjong Beach. It might not be the most beautiful beach in Miri, but it is one of the closest to the city. Parallel to several major resorts such as Parkcity Everly and Miri Marriott, the beach can be easily accessed by car. About the beach, the sand white and fine, with trees and picnic sites well maintained, and a row of clean seafood eateries lined up for the visitors. However, one major down side of this beach- swimming is not allowed due to the strong underwater current. Well, we visited the beach as a part of our friend's arrangement, and we enjoyed the wind from South China Sea very much. We took a city tour afterward.

 Tanjung Beach is one of the favourite places for locals.

Towering condominium was in construction during our visit (upper left), taking advantage on the great sea view at the area. The beach side was clean and well-maintained (upper right). The seafood eateries attracted many to dine by the beach (lower row).

 Older part of Miri City, with modern tower rises behind the old shoplots.

 Sunday is a rest day for many. Many shops were closed on Sunday afternoon (photo was taken at around 5:30 pm).

Bintang Megamall is one of the favourite shopping mall for the youngsters. There are others such as Boulevard and Imperial Mall.

Sea horse is the maskot of Miri City. You can see it everywhere around the city.

Miri International Airport is quite big. The size, a bit smaller than Kota Kinabalu International Airport while twice bigger than Sibu International Airport. There are several eateries, coffee shops, grocery and souvenir shops, that make the few hours of waiting less miserable. For us, we killed most of our time at Starbuck, sipping nice coffee while enjoying high speed internet access, and our time passed before we even realise about it. Regarding the transport from the airport to Miri City, the budget taxi is available with RM25 per trip. Limosine is available with a bit higher price too. A few car rental companies and tourism companies are available as well.

Miri International Airport has a modern outlook (upper left). Taxi is available outside the arrival hall (upper right). There are many shops available in the airport building (lower left), and when a long wait is unavoidable, we like Starbuck in particular.

Overall, our impression, although Miri is a city, it is not exactly like other "real" city i.e. Kuala Lumpur, Penang, or Melaka. It is even far much quieter than Kuching and Kota Kinabalu. However, it is still an important hub, not only to Niah Cave, Mulu National Park, or Brunei, but it is important as a supply point for hundreds of off-shore drilling platforms. 

Are we going to visit Miri again? Most probably yes, because Niah and Mulu are high in our list. We would like to express our deepest gratitude to Wei for bringing us around Miri, rushing us here and there just to cover as many places as possible. We are glad that his lighting business is getting better and brighter, and we hope that God will continue to bless him and his family, and we will meet again in near future.

Photo taken with Wei (严生卫) in front of his lighting show house- Sheng Cheng Lighting at Pujut 3.

Our sharing on other places in Sarawak are available at:

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Great experience in KLIA2

Is it a shopping center, or an airport? Well, KLIA2 is both. It was an exciting moment when we firstly stepped into the new KLIA 2. First minute impression- it was huge! In the next 5 minutes, we discovered that it was clean, organized, and friendly to visitors.

KLIA2 no doubt is a great leap from old and small KLLCCT, which you might not even want to stay there for extra 30 minutes. The new airport houses a two-and-a-half-storey shopping mall, which will keep visitors busy for a few hours. Most of the tenants are food and beverages providers- McDonalds, KFC, Texas Chicken, Starbucks, Burger King, Baskin Robbins, Boost, Old Town White Coffee, Nando's, Kenny Roger Roasters and many more. They are the professionals in keeping the visitors well fed. How about last minute shopping? Well, just walk around the airport and you will find F.O.S., PoloHaus, Voir Gallery, Giordano, Euphoria, Skin Food, City Chain, The Body Shop, Carlo Rino, Beryl's and many more scatter within the complex. Bored by clothes, cosmetics, chocolates, or watches? Why not try to bring back some surprises, such as local food? Well, you might find some out of the box souvenirs at Jaya Grocer. We found that the price for the food and beverages offered by the fast food chains were reasonable.

The airport complex has five levels. Level 1 (L1) is the bus and taxi stations, providing free shutter service from KLIA2 to KLIA. The ticket counters are located at that level as well. Level 1M (L1M) connects to Tune Hotel which is located about 150 meters away via covered walkway. Level L2 (L2) is connected to arrival hall, ERL Station, and multi-storey car park. Level 2M (L2M) is designated for eateries, and Level 3 (L3) is connected to departure hall.

So far, we used only ERL to go to KLIA2 because it was very convenient. We parked our car at Putrajaya Central, hooped into train, and we were in KLIA2 in less than 30 minutes. The parking fee at Putrajaya Central was cheap- RM 5 per day, much cheaper than the parking fee in KLIA2.

A snapshot of shopping complex at L2 (upper and lower left), L2M (upper right), and L3. L2 is connected to arrival hall, while L3 is connected to departure hall.

  Spacious walkway, prepared to accommodate massive number of visitors.

KLIA transit and express (ERL) is located at L2, same level with the arrival hall. Ticket price from KLIA2 to KLIA was RM 2. However, the trip was free on shuttle bus available at L1. ERL schedule can be obtained from its official website, and you can find the fares and passes too.

Signs are strategically placed (upper left). Counters for bus and taxi tickets are located at L1 (upper right). L1M is connected to Tune Hotel with covered walkway (lower right). Many people were waiting for their friends and family outside. Maybe, they haven't discover that there is a shopping mall inside. By the way, the information about fares for taxi is available at

The signage with direction and estimated time to reach by foot.

 The departure hall is many times larger than its predecessor, KLLCCT.

 The walkway to the boarding gates is complemented with one-way travelator.

The boarding hall is filled with shops (upper left). One thing that we wish to complain- the slope on our way to J-gates is not friendly to visitors, especially when we need to do the CLIMBING after long, exhauted flight, on our way from the gate to the main building (upper right). The baggage reclaim hall is quite narrow (upper left), but the system is good by stating the estimated time for the first bag to arrive.

The arrival hall is behind this up scaling slope.

We read from one article which criticized the lack of identity for the airport. It stated that the gateway to Malaysia was focused too much on shopping and eating. Well, our opinion, comfort and convenience are the top elements for a world class airport. KLIA2 has them both. Well, the new airport is completed and officially opened. It is now in the hand of the management to keep it as a world class airport. Maintaining it at its top condition is always more challenging than building it.

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