Sarikei, a bustling town of pineapples and swiftlet
By Patricia Hului
Sarikei, a bustling riverside town with the mighty Rajang River flowing along it, is called the ‘Fruit Basket of Sarawak’ with good reason.
Its iconic pineapples are a source of pride for the town as their crunchiness and sweetness are unlike other pineapple species.
The town does not only produce its famed pineapple but also other fruit such as green oranges, bananas, mangoes, corn and watermelons.
Being a vital agricultural centre, a visit to Sarikei would be incomplete without a trip to the market, which is why the Borneo Post Adventure Team 6 (BAT6) had a look around.
The market works as the main trading centre for local farmers to sell their produce such as kangkung, spinach, pumpkins and chilli.
Besides fruit and vegetables, there were stalls selling fruit saplings, potted plants and clothes as well, making the market a one-stop centre for local traders.
Driving around the town of Sarikei, we realised that the town centre was just as vibrant as the marketplace.
It is easy to find fast food outlets such as Sugar Bun, KFC, Pizza Hut and even Pezzo.
When there are so many traditional Foochow dishes such as kampua, mee sua and kompia available around Sarikei, however, most foodies would not take a second glance at the fast food outlets.
For those visiting Sarikei for the first time, do not be surprised that there is no such thing as ‘small’ when you order a hot drink like tea or coffee at the coffeeshop because they only serve one size of beverage – big.
A hot drink at the coffeeshop furthermore, will only cost RM1.
The town is definitely a fast growing one as it has opened its doors to international retail outlets such as ShareTea, Guardian, Watsons Personal Care Stores, The Body Shop, Blackball-Original Taiwanese Tea and Dessert.
For some tranquility to go with your tea, there’s a row of bodhi trees at the town centre. Easily distinguished by its heart-shaped leaves, Buddha was said to have attained enlightenment under a bodhi tree.
As we were leaving Sarikei town centre for Pakan, we passed a few swiftlet birdhouses along the way.
They were easy to spot as the buildings were without any windows except for tiny holes.
These were where bird nests were harvested and processed.
Patches of oil palm trees and pepper vines lined the road to Pakan from the Sri Aman-Sibu road.
When we reached Pakan town about an hour later, we found out the town centre was made up five blocks of shophouses.
But what impressed us the most was the road connectivity in the area.
Although there were no proper signs in some areas, we took a long shot and just drove along the main road.
Later, we realised that Pakan town was located in the middle, as if on one huge roundabout and that there was a proper tarred road circling the area.
We went back to the pineapple town and spent another night in Sarikei.