Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sunset at Miri River Mouth

[This is part of a series of drafted entries about Miri.]
Small boats speeding back home at sunset from the South China Sea - photo taken on 9 November 2011.

If you are in Miri Sarawak, one of the things that you can do is to enjoy the sights and sounds of the community living by Miri River. There are traditional village houses built on stilts on the river and also the modern shophouses that make up part of the Miri Waterfront Commercial area (located near the new river outlet) that houses several seafood restaurants. Sunset provides many photography opportunities as the sky and clouds turn into a kaleidoscope of colours that keeps on changing. The passing small boats and larger tug boats adds life to the scene.
The wooden houses built on stilts that stand on Miri River. Small fishing boats moored to wooded jetties line the riverside.
A wide view of the riverfront that facing the new outlet to South China Sea. I am standing at where the old river courses through to pass behind the fish market (no, I am not standing on water as the river has been filled up on this section). Notice the old on the left (wooden houses on stilts) and the new on the right (concrete shop-houses and buildings with garish signboards).

How to get there
Just walk in a westerly direction. No serious, you can't get lost in Miri, and even though the roads seem to go somewhere else, heading in the general direction of the river/sunset or heading westwards will get you there. If you walk from Miri City Fan/At-taqwa Mosque down Jalan Merpati towards Imperial Mall/Hotel, cross over to the next parallel road via Jalan Calliandra. Turn left at the T-junction and you are now in Jalan Permaisuri. Walk down the road you should see a signboard that says Miri Waterfront Commercial Area.

If you are coming from Jalan Merbau (Hotel Mega/Miri old Mosque), walk towards the Sarawak Plantation Building. At the junction, turn right into Jalan Permaisure/Jalan Indica and then turn left at the first turning on your left. That is Jalan Pala, and walking straight on will lead you to a three-pronged roundabout. You should be able to see the river from here.

So what's there at the river mouth?
The thing that got me confused when I first stood and looked at the river mouth is upon recalling what I saw in Google Maps before I came here. Google Maps showed that there were two flow path for the Miri River. One goes straight out after passing by the front of the shop-houses whilst the other goes on in front of the Miri Waterfront area and past the fish market and Tua Pek Kong Temple. Now, I only see the straight one, but the other path was blocked and in its place was a muddy ground, devoid of large trees. Then it dawned upon me that this was part of the reclamation that a shopkeeper told me about.

Above is the view of the new river mouth from the end of the road at the Miri Waterfront Commercial Centre (Jalan Pala at the three-pronged roundabout). The river now runs straight out to the South China Sea instead of going along past the sand spit and exiting way past Jalan Kubu). The old river path is hugging the shoreline behind the spit, passing by the fish market and the Tua Pek Kong Temple. Then the river mouth got too shallow and a second river mouth was created (the newer direct path which you can see from the roundabout). Now the old path of the river has been reclaimed and filled fully (on the left hand side of the river) for the marina resort project. At the time of writing this entry, Google Map still show the river as forking into two past the point of the Jalan Pala roundabout. Apparently a certain stretch of the old river that runs along the sand spit behind the fish market and facing the Tua Pek Kong Temple has not been completely  filled in and you can still see small boat jetties that stand out of the water.
View of the reclaimed section of the old river and the new river mouth (picture severely compensated in Photoshop).

As I was there to snap photos of boats passing with the sunset sky, I quickly took some shots as the sun was setting fast it was threatening to go dark rapidly. If I had more time, I would have walked along the embankment towards the coast and taken photos from there.
A large boat coming into Miri River from the open sea (no colour correction).
The clouds, sky and river bursts into vibrant colours at dusk.

Large boats coming into Miri River from the river mouth.
Same shot as above but with different colour interpretation.

The two boats heading upriver.

Besides the sights, what else is there?
There are many seafood restaurants here and some actually set their tables across the road by the riverside to provide a sort of alfresco dining with the added flavours of Miri River and smell of the South China Sea breeze.
As night falls, the neon signs for the seafood restaurants comes on, like a lighthouse for seafood lovers 'sailing in' to dock at the seats set by the river side. If you do take photos from this point, take note that this was formerly the river which has been filled and is now a muddy piece of ground held by a granite embankment and you will be swamped with mosquitoes should you stand here at dusk.
Seafood restaurants - The green arrows indicate the shops whilst the off white arrow indicate where some of the restaurants had placed their tables and chairs across the road by the river.


  1. Beautiful sceneries. Wish I can be there too.

  2. Thanks. I got there a little late, and didn't expect the sky to change colour so vividly but it goes off quite rapidly.

  3. Thanks friend! I've only had 2 and a half days in Miri. I too was puzzled as to where the river went (from the Southern end of Miri). At this time, they're building something big right where the river was cut off, with big pylons and lots of cement. And I learned about the mosquitos the hard way! The old Sungai Miri (Miri River) is little more than a foetid swamp now.
    Anyway, thanks to your info, today my wife and I followed the rock wall all the way to the point at which Sungai Sarawak ends and the China Sea starts. We got there just ten minutes before the sun set. It was *amazing*. The horizon, then all the clouds flared golden, red, yellow, pink and orange over the next 20 minutes. I wish I'd got there earlier, and with a tripod so I could record a video timelapse sequence.
    For anyone wishing to do something out of the ordinary in Miri, this is worth the effort! Be warned, wear sandshoes or some kind of reliable footwear, bring a torch/headtorch (it'll be pretty dark on the way back), and take some water - its hot work, the rocks that form the wall radiate a lot of heat, even after dark!
    There's also a small Chinese shrine located 100 metres before the rock wall curves away to the south where the river ends. And there are local fishermen all the way along, who are quite friendly, so say "Hi" as you go! You can ask them for help if you aren't sure where to go. Good luck! Post here what you find!

    1. Yeah, the mosquitoes are really terrible. It is quite sad that the actual river mouth had turned into a dead and foetid swamp. Glad the info was of help. I didn't venture out as I didn't have a torch with me and the sky turns dark very rapidly. Thanks for the tip, will remember to take torchlight and water as well as a tripod. I can just imagine how intense the heat from the rocks must be for you and your wife. Love to see your pics, it must be a great light show with the vast expanse of the South China Sea as the stage.