Sitting in the hotel restaurant at the Grand Palace in Miri, I looked out and though how much like New Zealand life here is. People going about their business – mostly in cars – Asians seem not to walk! Roads lined with greenery and only the occasional call to prayer from the mosques to let one know that it is certainly not NZ – and the heat of course!
Yesterday I took a concert Band workshop with a local school band preparing for a contest in a few weeks. It has been holiday time here for a week and they have spent the whole week practising. As a marching band, they have their routines to work out as well so in four hours, we looked at 6 minutes of music. I was amazed at how they tried to do as I asked and also at how much they improved. It seemed far away from New Zealand then – where often the groups are apathetic at best and hostile at worst.
After the workshop, I was taken around Miri – which received city status in 2005, as one of the big oil centres in the country. So the first stop on the tour was Canada Hill – named maybe because early settlers from Canada lived there. On top of Canada Hill, there is the first oil well in Miri, dubbed “The Grand Old Lady” and an oil museum, which displays the establishment and development of the industry in Malaysia. Some great exhibitions – one of which is a car in an earthquake. sitting in the car while it rocked backwards and forwards quite violently, really brought home how terrifying it must have been in the big Christchurch and Japanese earthquakes. Below is a photo of “The Grand Old Lady” and looking inland from the top of Canada Hill.
Two other places I got to while here in Miri were the beachfront – relatively undeveloped in NZ terms – and the Fan Garden – quite a large garden in the shape of a fan. Below you can see the central “spine” of the fan, heading towards a sort of pergola, where people were resting to escape the sun – After all, only “Only Fools and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”!! the beach was interesting. Miri is built along the coast, but they do not seem to use the beach much at all. this is a little part of it which has been developed and there were a few people there, but very little swimming – mostly resting in the shade of the palms. In some ways, I guess it is almost too hot to swim. Alternatively it may be the Asian innate dislike for any form of unnecessary exercise. some of them here even laughed at themselves when I asked why they insisted on trying to park within ten metres or so of where they wanted to get to. Told me that they were being typical “lazy asians” – their words!! Not my impression at all, except in terms of physical exercise. In general I find Asian people hard working and not lazy at all.
Yesterday I was also shown another park. I think people are beginning to realise I like flowers and plants. Lots of people have asked why I put so many photos of plants on my blog site and why I like them. My response is that plants do not turn around and purposely hurt you. sure some of them have prickles etc, but that is more for protection than for attacking people. Anyway, back to my tour… The park I was in yesterday had a large swing bridge travelling right through it. Yes that is me in the photo below! I managed to overcome my fear of heights long enough to walk along it all. In actual fact I found it not bad at all. you can see how safe it feels – and once I became used to the slight pendulum effect, it was quite restful wandering along. Very hot though in the early afternoon sun. After a morning of conducting a band workshop in an open air room – with no air-con going, I was already hot and sweaty. I must have lost litres yesterday – but have learnt to have some water around.
Below are two photos of some of the plants I have seen here in Miri – the pink tree taken at the Fan Garden and the tree taken at the carpark leading into the garden park
It has been very pleasant here in Miri. It almost had a real “Welcome Home” feel when we cleared customs and immigration on the way back from Brunei on Thursday. Quite a lot of travel in the next week or so, with a clarinet masterclass and workshop to take in Kuala Lumpur next weekend.
So farewell Miri, it has been quite “mirabilis” indeed