Matu is situated about 200 km from his Divisional mother, Mukah which means that it is as far as about 400 km from Sibu Airport. Ironically, a travel from Sibu to Matu is much cheaper by rivers compare to by land and of course the cost of transport is much cheaper.
There are almost no building built on the ground, most of them are built on stilt which reflects that the locals know well known that they will face flood for every year. And it was. Except for Government building, which are properly constructed through proper investigation on the flood level, other buildings includes the shop houses are built on stilt. Another interesting part about this town is that most of the buildings are constructed using wood materials. However, the locals are born to be architect on naturally. Most of them are creative and can even construct and decorates their houses uniquely.
You will find no other design in any part of Sarawak maybe!
Once, Matu was the administrative centre of Matu and Daro District. That is the information that I get from the locals. In fact, the local council headquarter are located in Matu. Their District Office is a unique landmark, and constructed much advance than other District Office in Mukah Division. It is not a surprise if the colonize declared Matu as the administrative centre. However, due to natural disaster, flood has slow down the development of Matu. Daro has better opportunities, no flood and the choice for most travelers where they could easily get river transports to other bigger towns for shopping. What left now are the wooden shop houses which built maybe for last 50 years, at least!
The road webs, I means the paved road is connected the whole kampongs in Matu. Of course these are one of the efforts by their long-term service parlimentary, YB Datuk Haji Wahab Dollah and the one term hardworking assemblyman, YB Abu Seman, who works very hard to develop Matu. Of course I am agreed. If Sibu as the example another floating town in Sarawak was once the second largest town in Sarawak, so Matu should also no problems on this. The only thing is, it is an isolated area with very basic products to serve for business.
When great flood attacked major towns in Sarawak early this year, Matu of course has nowhere to escape. Surprisingly, the floods attacked are not giving any big impact to the towns. Where other towns are busy counting on their lost, Matu is one of the relax town during the floods. Their advantage is because they get used of it. The business runs as usual, the only thing is the change their mode of transport. In dry season, cars are the main vehicles, however during landas season; boats and small sampan are becoming more important. In fact, they used sampan on the road! Their vehicles? They parked it on the roads and bridges! Nobody disturbed or try to steal it because everybody on that area are facing the same problems.
It was a great view. I was there during the floods to buy a packed of cigarettes. They people are happy as there is nothing happened. They still can move here and there to do their routine activities mainly on land fishing. The parents not worried by the flood as their houses are much higher than the flood level and their children are mostly know how to swim. They are well trained. The children are happy; they can get extra income by running the “perahu tambang”. I can guarantee you that the fares are not cheap. My RM 9.00 cigarettes becoming RM 11.00 per packed plus the boat fare. That is fare for one passenger. Anyway, we need their service, and we have to pay for it. But I think, the children are happier because they get holiday, play in the water as I was when I was a kid. So they deserved for it.
The adults take the opportunity to catch crabs and prawn. This one I really cannot understand! However, I conclude that the crabs and prawns might be drawn due to the floods. That is one type of prawn, which the Mukah Melanau called it “Mang” which they catch it only by hand. It is amazing indeed! The price for the “Mang” informed not to be less than RM 30.00 per kilo. I myself not yet try how delicious it is but I believe it must be a special dish. So, actually brings them more luck.
For Matu folk, I really appreciate their patient. When I ask an old man on why they are not keen to moved, he said, “Matu is the only land we have, where we born and where we will be buried. Our community has got used of it, and our children have being train to face it. After all, it only happened once a year and actually not affects much on our daily needs.” I believed he is honest on his answer.
So, why I am travelling to the flood area where flood was happened? It was simple; I do my community contribution for the peoples. I smiles and proud, when they thanks me and waving their hands when it was done. Anyway, it gives me an idea of building my own floating house at my kampongs one day. But not to stay at this floating town, never!