Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sibu's green jewel


Sibu, 60 kilometres upriver from the South China Sea, began life in the 1850s as a tiny Melanau encampment, and has grown into Sarawak's third largest city, with a population of over 200,000, and its biggest port.

One of the first things that visitors will notice in Sibu is an abundance of gardens and public parks with a variety of flowering shrubs and shady trees.

Beautiful and well-maintained, they have become popular places for locals and visitors alike to relax and enjoy the surroundings teeming with lush green and serene water features.

The jewel among these is Bukit Aup Jubilee Park, winner of numerous national awards as well as home to the popular annual Bukit Aup Jubilee Run that attracts thousands of participants annually.

Legend has it that the park used to be the dwelling place of an Iban princess called Naga Bari. She was said to be beautiful, kind and caring towards her subjects. Unfortunately, there are scarcely any written records of the princess and she remains a mystery though she is certainly remembered among the Ibans.

Another account of the story states that there were six Iban warriors, who together with Naga Bari protected the community around the area in the early days.

Today, the 22-hectare park is a popular place for leisure activities including picnics, nature walks, exercise and photography.

Set in a cluster of hillocks in an otherwise flat plain, its observation tower provides a panoramic view of Sibu town and the countryside.

Other facilities include a children's playground, a suspension bridge, a garden of meditation, sky steps, a pavilion, an amphitheatre, a large koi pond, a lagoon, a canteen and gazebos.

Bukit Aup is widely recognised all over Borneo for its mystical power for good fortune and health. Hundreds of Iban go to the park every year to seek the blessings of Naga Bari. They believe that the place is sacred and that those who come to seek her divine assistance would be rewarded.

A small pond, named in Naga Bari's honour, midway up the hill is one of the most popular stops for visitors. Legend has it that the pond has never dried up even in times of drought since it was dug, possibly about the time when the first Iban settled in the area.

The spot is where visitors give their offerings to Naga Bari. The pool is believed to help any childless couple wishing to conceive and students who pray for good examination results.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

No comments: