It was a pleasure to drive from Kuching City to Bau, a small town approximately 30 km from the capital city of Sarawak. The road is in good condition, where in some portion I can drive more than 100 km/h, it is not recommended anyway because road in Sarawak has plenty of surprises on its left and right. Hitting a dog, will cost the driver about RM 50.00, a chicken cost about RM 30.00, and what say if hitting a human being, its priceless. The lesson is, drive carefully and mind your own safety.
Bidayuh kampongs are scattered on the roadside, which in Bau, Bidayuh Jagoi/Singai is the dominate tribes. Other races, Chinese, Iban and Malay are also available, living in harmonist for their better way of developing town.
I am a Bidayuh, of course. But I don’t understand on the Bau Bidayuh, even a word! That is the amazing about Bidayuh. We are in the same race, but divided into several tribes which speak in their own languages. So, if you meet with Bidayuh, do not surprise if they speak in Malay, English or even Iban among them. That is normal!
However, most of the town folks understand the Bidayuh Bau’s language and some of them can fluently speak on it. It was few hundred years ago, when the colonials bring the Chinese miners to Bau for the gold. Most of our Chinese friends live in the town, where the former gold mines are now abandoned, leaving the mines in blue lake. Nowadays, they are the success traders at Bau town.
For Malay, Bidayuh and other races, most of them are settled at the town skirt, developing their land into commercial agriculture. Some of them of course still work in traditional activities. Through the modernization of the town, the Bidayuh youngsters even transform themselves with good educations and work in private and government agencies.
Gold mining in its olden age were the activity that turn this “smelly” town to a develop town. “Bau” actually means “smell” in Malay Language. However, the locals pronounce it as Ba’uk, which me myself cannot describe the origin of this unique name.
However, the gold mining now is just a history. Some says that Bau' gold are not worth to mine because of its inferior quality. And some says that the gold is too deep inside the earth which is not worthy to mine it. Whatever it is, the gold mine has give Bau the title as a "Gold Town".
This town is surrounded by beautiful mountains; some are covered by clouds on rainy days which create a panoramic view. On the foot of the mountains laid the paddy field and traditional farms belongs to the local. This activities being their routines for centuries.
There are plenty of attractions in Bau, which must be visited by the tourist,
(i) The Town Landmark
This landmark of Bau is significant to the gold mining process in olden days. The structure is consisting of two parts. It is located at the town centre. The history of gold processing is also available here.
(ii) Serikin, the home of handicrafts
This small kampong will turn to a busy market on Saturday and Sunday. The scenario occurred when our neighbor friends form Indonesia brought in their handicrafts at the borders. In normal days, the kampong is just a sleepy kampong. However, handicrafts are also available at the local shops on the roadside. For those who like the handicrafts and antiques, Serikin is the right place to visit. Make sure that you come early, or you will buy nothing.
(iii) Baruk, a traditional Bidayuh architecture
The Bau Civic Centre is a unique building which incorporated the cultural heritage of all the three major races in the district of Bau. The round-shape Bidayuh headhouse known as the "Baruk" on the right hand side of the picture houses a mini museum, the main hall is in Bidyuh Longhouse style, the front of the hall is decorated with an Islamic Arch, representing the Malay and Muslim community, while a pair of lions at the entrance and another pair at the Amphitheatre represents the Chinese community.
(iv) Tasik Biru
I am not sure on how it gets his name; perhaps it was named Tasik Biru (Blue Lake) as the water in the lake appeared greenish bluish due to reflection from the green plants around and the blue sky. The facilities constructed included a canteen, toilets, pontoon gangway, viewing platform, footpaths, railing by the lakeside,a car park and landscaping. Signboards have been put up at the lake side by the Government, warning the public against swimming, fishing, bathing or drinking the water from the lake as the water contains high content of arsenic. Hence, every time I visit Tasik Biru, I always keep myself away from the water. Anyway, I believed that Government has their own planning to solve this problems and developing the lake with better facilities.
(v) Hawkers Centre
This building is the one stop centre for shopping of jungle products, as well as fruits and vegetables with reasonable price.
(vi) Rock Garden
Bau Town's rock garden is located around the 'natural rock formations' opposite the Bau Civic Centre.
(vii) Other attraction
Bringing Back the Title
With the great developments of Kuching City, developments are merging to the nearer town such as Samarahan, Serian and Bau. Shop houses and residential parks develop along the main roads, which sooner will connect the towns with Kuching City. For Bau, gold mining is no more, but the quarry mining is actively process as the continuation history of Bau as “mining town”. For those who thinking of buying cheaper gold accessories, Bau is not the right place. Gold accessories are even more expensive compare to Kuching City. Anyway, for the Developers and Investors, the name of “Gold” Town for Bau is still relevant. The great developments will bring back this town to his former glory.