Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Of Oil, Seahorses & Crocs

Last week, my girlfriend visited me here in Miri bringing some much needed warmth from Semenanjung. I gladly became her tour guide for her short stay in Miri.

Our 1st stop is the Petroleum Science Museum situated on top of the curiously named Canada Hill. This is where it all started, where oil was first found back during the days of the White Rajah.

Situated in front of the museum is a structure almost a century old, Well No 1 affectionately known as ‘The Grand Old Lady’, ignoring the obvious phallic symbolism behind the tall erection.

Exploration & production of oil moved offshore after the oil on top of the hill has been sucked dry. A few production platforms can actually be seen from the top of the hill, churning out thousands of barrels of oil per day that earned Miri the unofficial nickname of Oil Town.

Entrance to the strikingly designed museum is free but sadly many of the exhibits are in bad conditions.

After the short history lesson on oil & how it catalyzes the growth of the city, we visited another symbol of Miri - the Seahorse. While not as famous as their feline friends of Kuching, the mascot of the city can be found everywhere - in the middle of a roundabout, on key chains, on the signboard of a food court etc.

Perhaps the largest of them all is the Seahorse Lighthouse, which took us a couple of wrong turns before finally finding the place.

How a city known more for its oil came to be associated with the sea creature is unknown, but statues of seahorses in the middle of a busy roundabout are definitely more aesthetically pleasing than a monument of oil barrels.

The next day, we went to Brunei, a country so boring it deserves a blog post of its own.

On the 3rd day & running out of places of attraction to go, we decided to visit Miri’s Crocodile Farm. Entrance fee is quite steep at RM 10 & since it’s a Monday, the place is eerily deserted. There is a mini zoo if crocodiles aren’t exactly your cup of tea.

Not much to see though except for some bored looking monkeys, a sleeping leopard cat, a hungry & desperate stork chewing on rocks, a pair of stressed out sun bears and what the sign claimed to be the world’s most dangerous bird, the Cassowary.

The desperate stork

But the star attraction is of course the crocs. We climb up the wooden platform, built using planks with gaps in between so you can have a good look of your killer in the unfortunate incident of one of the planks giving way, to have a better view.

Crocodiles aren’t very animated or active creatures, preferring to lie around for hours on end under the sun. Having been around since the time of dinosaurs, I believed such behavior to be the pinnacle of evolution.

It’s supposed to be feeding time at 11.30am but perhaps due to the global economic slowdown, there isn’t any chicken throwing feeding frenzy that day. I am sure the crocs aren’t happy with such cost cutting measures. Somebody bail out these poor crocodile farmers please…

Just before the exit is the obligatory souvenir shop, for those who preferred their crocodiles dead and in a variety of colours.

Before flying back to KL, she bought some black pepper & rattan baskets as souvenirs from exotic Sarawak. That concludes our little tour of Miri city and it will be a couple of months before we see each other again.


Borneo Falcon said...

I'm driving to Miri next month and be the tour guide for my wife :)

foongpc said...

I like the seahorse lighthouse! Much better than all those cats from Kuching!

Haha! Brunei is so boring it deserves a blog post of its own? But since it's so boring, I don't think it deserves any post! LOL!

Eh, you and your gf doing this long distance relationship, can or not? : )

~YM~ said...

aiya, not school kids, sure can sustain relationship la...:P

plus the guy got no one to flirt with, only the sea to see. n_n"

Loke said...

meow meow... still alive?


février said...

your blog is quite interesting - nothing spectacular but gives off a nice vibe. your writing feels unpretentious and doesn't seem to exude an undertone of arrogance or stupidity


Johnny Ong said...

looks like u have been quite busy with yr work in miri

Johnny Ong said...

still sustaining there?

Mervin said...

snake, time to update ur blog!

[S]itie [B]Um [B]Um said...

wow!! quite a big number of crocodiles in that small place

Jong said... did you get so close to the lighthouse?

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