Wednesday, 16 March, 2022 06:25:00 AM



 ‘Malaysia’s Benak Town’.

Sri Aman Town 詩里阿曼 (Simanggang)
Sri Aman Town

Sri Aman town is one of the most crime free town in Malaysia. Its crime rate is among the lowest in Malaysia. For those who wants to visit Sri Aman, the population of Sri Aman who is culturally mixed, with mostly Iban, Malay and Chinese predominating would be very happy to welcome you all to their peaceful and beautiful town.

Simanggang (now Sri Aman) in the 1960's
Simanggang (now Sri Aman) in the 1960's

Simanggang is a location with high rainfall. Town people have the habit of carry an umbrella. The umbrellas in those years were made of oil paper from China. There were two type of umbrella separately for men and women. The bigger one in brown colour is for man and the smaller lighter with colourful patents are for girls.

During raining season, the rain usually lasted for the whole afternoon nonstop. These were the time I have to carry an umbrella to school. Usually an old umbrella of the father. (The new one reserved for him). The big brown umbrellas are heavier. The lady's smaller and lighter umbrella were most suitable for boys. But the boys does not feel comfortable to carry the smaller umbrella that means for the girls.

The British village town Simanggang 40 years ago gradually faded out of the memory of Malaysian. Replacing this town is a developing new Sri Aman Town. Simanggang name was changed to Sri Aman after the "Deklarasi Sri Aman" in the late 1960s.
"Simanggang" a town most young Malaysian do not know where. Now they call "Bandar Sri Aman"
In the 1960s' there was a small airport for "Fokker Friendship". There is no more airport in Simanggang. This previous air landing area has been developed into a sport stadium. The nearest airport is Kuching International Airport 2 hours drive away.

The above black and white photo of Simanggang Town in 1965 was taken from the steel tower at the Resident Office on the hill.

Simminggang airstrip in 1964
Simminggang airstrip in 1964
Air traffic control was the right-hand building and just left of centre is Royal Air Force flight office.

Photo courtesy : Dennis Collins

October 2013 Dennis Collins, shared the above photo in his Facebook. This is a Black & White photo of Simminggang airstrip in 1964.


The popular Simanggang Cinema is an enduring structure. This once only cinema in the town is now renovated to a hotel "Theatre Inn". The building structure remain unchanged. In those day in 1960. The shop on the left hand side is a coffee shop that the most favorite ice stick in town at 5 cents or 10 cents each. On the right side was a candy shop that sales tip bits such as lollipop and biscuit.
An Admission Ticket of Simanggang Theatre dated 29 March 1964 (Insert above right). 1964 was the year I left Simanggang. Knowing very well I would not be return to stay again, this ticket was very likely what I picked up at the cinema to keep as souvenir of the town.
Simanggang Theatre Inn
No. 2, Bangunan Panggung Wayang, Lorong 3 Off Jalan Club, 95000 Sri Aman, Sarawak


Trees have been planted in 1990s on either side of Jalan Polise Road leading to Sri Aman Town.
Formally dusty unpaved road is now lined with trees planted at regular intervals on either side.

Taman Panorama Benak exhibition hall

A special platform to view the natural phenomenon had been built on the river bank of Batang Lupar which is called "Taman Panorama Benak".
This is one of the very rare infrastructure development you can see in Sri Aman town in the recent decade.

View of Lupar river from Fort Alice.
View of Lupar river from Fort Alice.

The fort was restored at RM5million in about 30 months by Mike Boon and his restoration team.
Mike Boon completed the restoration of Fort Alice in 2015. Fort Alice became one of the 14 tropical forts the White Rajahs built in a century that are still standing. It was built more than 150 years ago and was the first to be properly restored.
Today it is a museum.

The fort's structure is important in terms of its classic belian architecture. And it tells the story of Simanggang and its surrounding development.

Fort Alice was built in 1864. Today it became the oldest heritage building in Sri Aman (Simanggang).
It was constructed following the victory of Rajah Charles Brooke over Rentap, the last of the major Iban chieftains. The Fort was named after Charles Brooke’s wife, Margaret Alice Lili de Windt. It served as a defensive structure controlling the Lupar River.
For restoration, this 150 year old fort was completely knocked down and rebuilt. It opened its doors again on 18 April 2015 as a friendly and pleasant museum.
Fortunate that Sri Aman still has some of these Sarawak historical buildings protected.

Fort Alice has a narrow escape from a almost successfully “sold” by its local authority to a private commercial developer until a protection group partner with Sarawak Museum to take over to finance its restoration.

Mike Boon
Mike Boon
Graduated from the University of Western Australia in 1989 with a Bachelor of Architecture.
He participated in the restoration of the Kuching Old Court House project in 2002.
Since then Mike has been actively promoting heritage conservation in Sarawak. Restoration of Fort Alice is one of his recent heritage conservation project.

Shen's Grave located below the hill slop of Fort Alice.
Shen's Grave located below the hill slop of Fort Alice.

The following was written on the above black marble stone


According to the information found on its wooden grave, this grave was built in the year of Tongzhi (1862), belonged to Shen Dasun, from Huamwi Village in Chaoan District, China.

In mid 1970's, Mr. Tan, the owner of Chop Eng Kee, Simanggang, rebuilt a stone mark for this grave. The details of this historical grave can be found on pages 156-157 in the Souvenir Book of Official Opening of the New Ciyin Temple (published on 31-1-1993)

On 18-4-1997, the members of History Unit, Sarawak Chinese Association and the association's Sri Aman Division Working Committee members made a study regarding this grave.

In 1998, with the cooperation of the Cultural dan Education Unit of Sri Aman Division Federation of Chinese Association and Benevolent Society Simanggane, this grave was beautified and maintained as a historical exhibit.

This unique grave and many others which are not discovered today, marked the presence of early Chinese settlers in Simanggang who may arrived before 1864 - the year when Alice Fort was built.

Cultural and Education Unit
of Sri Aman Division Federation of Chinese Association
5 April 1998

Rumah Sri Aman

Rumah Sri Aman
(former British Residency)
British Residency
Resident's Roll of Honor
Below is the Resident of Sri Aman Roll of Honor, dating back to its formation in 1869:

James Brooke Cruickshank (1869-1870)-The first Resident
Henry Skelton (1870-1873)
Francis Richard Ord Maxwell (1872-1881)
Henry Fitzgibbon Deshon (1879-1892)
Demetrius James Sandford Bailey (1888-1908)
Rajah Muda Charles Vyner Brooke (1898-1899)
Arthur Bartlett Ward (1899-1901)
Frederick Ambrose Wilford Page Turner (1915-1930)
John Beville Archer (1930-1934)
Adam Philip Mcdonald (1934-1936)
Hugh Edward Cutfield (1936-1941) (Sarawak was then occupied by Japan from 1941 to 1945)
J.C.H. Barcroft (1946-1947) (Sarawak became a British Colony in 1946)
W.P.N.L. Ditmas (1947-1951)
A.F.R. Griffin (1951-1953)
M.J. Forster (1953-1955)
A.J.N. Richards (1955-1962)
J. F. Drake-Brockman (1962-1963) (Sarawak became independent in 1963)
G. Lloyd Thomas (1963-1965) - last foreigner to hold the position of Resident.
Peter Tinggom (1965-1967)-First local to be appointed as Resident.
William Nais (1967-1970)
Tuan Hj Yusof Bin Tuan Hj Arbi (29.01.1970-16.02.1973)
Tuan Hj Mohd Fauzi Bin Hj Abd Hamid (16.02.1973-19.05.1980)
Mohd Hanis Bin Mahlie (20.05.1980-05.08.1983)
Dr Yusoff Bin Hj Hanifah (06.08.1983-15.08.1984)
Tuan Hj Abu Kassim Bin Hj Abd Rahim (16.06.1984-01.11.1986)
Michael Pilo Ak Gangga (01.11.1986-20.03.1987)
Tuan Hj Abu Kassim Bin Hj Abd Rahim (21.03.1987-30.12.1988)
Peter Nyaed Juses(31.12.1988-19.03.1989)
Tuan Hj Mohd Iskandar Bin Abdullah (20.03.1989-18.06.1991)
Noel Hudson Laga (19.06.1991-02.02.1993)
Waslie Bin Ramlie (26.02.1993-05.03.1993)
Peter Nyaed Juses (06.03.1993-06.09.1993) - Reappointed for the 2nd time.
Waslie Bin Ramlie (06.09.1993-15.03.1997) - also reappointed for the 2nd time.
Salleh Bin Yusop (14.04.1997-31.12.1998)
Ganie Ugay (02.01.1999-28.03.2000)
Patrick Engkasan Ak Entabar @ Digat (01.03.2000-30.11.2002)
Dr Ngenang Ak Jangu (02.12.2002-02.12.2006)
Abg Shamshudin Bin Abg Seruji (03.01.2007-15.11.2010)
Abd Rahman Sebli Bin Senusi (01.12.2010-04.08.2011)

Simanggang Sentral
Simanggang Sentral
Proposed Single Storey Market cum Bus Terminal

Sri Aman Town is transforming into a new township with a new hospital, an open air market and an adjoining central bus terminal.

The RM7 million open air market have a total of 100 stalls in the dry market section and 140 stalls in the wet market section.
Traders from the current open air market will shift to this new market which would be more comfortable and conducive for their business.

The present open air market will then be demolished to make way for eight units of a three-storey shop house.
The long overdue Sri Aman Hospital is now ongoing construction. The hospital is already in the second phase of construction which started on Oct 25, 2015 and expected completion by October 2018. This second phase of the hospital cost RM176 million.

Rainbow Again!
Rainbow Again!

Over the years the town changes and its name has changed, but the rainbow remain the same as 40 years ago. Rainbow's colors, its curve, its skycryple into the clouds and deep blue sky remain and will remain the same eternally.

Tze Yung Khor Temple 慈雲閣 (Pavilion of Merciful Cloud)
Tze Yung Khor Temple 慈雲閣
(Pavilion of Merciful Cloud)

At the Sri Aman Esplanade is this beautiful Chinese temple beside the Batang Lupar River decorated with mythical creatures such as phoenix and dragon.

When the Iban longboats travel from longhouses down the Lupar River to Sri Aman town, the Red/Green temple building in the skyline is an barging landmark.

This temple site has sited beside the Batang Lupar River for 100 years. The Chinese believe the location is a good Feng Shui. And good Feng Shui always bring peace and prosperity to the people in the area.
100 years ago it started as only a shrine in a shop lot somewhere in the town. From there it was then relocated to the present river side and reconstructed to it present architecture in 1993 as we see it today.
Around the year 1849 when James Brooke established its forces in the Skrang region near Sri Aman, came also Teoh Chew Chinese pioneers settled down in Sri Aman and around the Batang Lupar area.

Before the turn of 20th Century, a small temple was thus built to cater for the growing Chinese population along Lupar river; this was the earlier Tze Yung Khor, with Tze Pei Goddess as the host deity.

The present location was relocated in 1899. It is believed by most adherents that the present location is seated on a good Feng Shui, a Live Crab Feng Shui. Many believe that because of the Live Crab Feng Shui & the blessings from Tze Pei Goddess, Tze Yung Khor had escaped many major disasters in Sri Aman.

And because it was seated on a Live Crab Feng Shui, before the 1993 major renovation, major parts of the temple was painted green, instead of using red traditionally for most Chinese temples, to avoid ‘cooking’ the Live Crab. With the major renovation in 1993, the practice is still maintained; all roofing of Tze Yung Khor is still kept green until now.

The Chinese Temple of Sri Aman was a small dark shrine 50 years ago to become today local landmark of the town.
This temple is the center of attraction in the town center with festive decoration. The largest and most visited Chinese temples in Sri Aman.

The only temple around eventhough it was built not in a suitable place (as it occupies most of the Batang Lupar river bank) but with it new look, its becomes part of tourists attraction especially during Tidal Wave Festival or locally known as Pesta Benak.

Preparing to celebrate the Chinese New Year festival
Preparing to celebrate the Chinese New Year festival

Red lanterns dotting the sky in Sri Aman. Red symbolize happiness and good luck and to ward off evil spirits. Time for preparation for lion dance.

On the day one of Spring Festival, the traditional Chinese would come to this temple to offer thanks to deities while those Christians would join church service to count their blessings and express new hopes for the new year.

Then, some entertaining lion or unicorn performance who dance gleefully to the beats of the drums. This thousand years old traditional performance would be performed by troupes of boys from ..... not the Chinese but local Iban boys.

It won't be Chinese New Year without the lion dance, It won't be any lion dance without the local Iban young generation.
Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year, has more than 4,000 years of history. Being one of the traditional Chinese festivals, it is the grandest and the most important festival for Chinese people.... but not limited to the Chinese.

Practicing for the Lion Dance performance is a group of Iban young people (see photo). From the instructor, drummer to the Lion head dancers are all non Chinese.

Dynamic lion dances are performed to the accompaniment of the deafening beating of drums and gongs, which is believed to scare away evil spirits.

The 12 feet long 龍香 Incense were still in its wrapping paper (above photo). They will be put up for burning on the First and Fifteen Day of the festival.

Red is bright and brings luck. Red is joy and prosperity. It is the color of the Chinese New Year, the Spring Festival, which celebrates family reunion full of colorful activities and new hopes with the advent of spring and flowers blossoming.  

和山拿山 禱告聖山

To Mount Hosanna Mount Hosanna, that mountain for peace and healing

This holy mountain, a mountain for peace and healing.

Mt Hosanna Chapel was initiated by Fr Richard Khoo and build with the help of believers. Fr Richard Khoo preached about understand deeper into the process of spiritual healing and forgiveness and of the great love Jesus has for us.

From a distance, visitor can see the Three Candles on the hill!

The Candle-shaped Chapel looked magnificent and unique from the road and from the valley.

How many steps are there? Tts easily above 100 steps to the Chapel. This is an "The Jacobs ladder" mentioned in the Bible.

This special chapel has weekly special mass offered for peace and healing to all those who are willing to receive.

This must be one of the most wonderful chapels in Sarawak and Sabah.

"Jacob's ladder"
"Jacob's ladder"
A water color painting by a local artist in Sarawak. This drawing is displayed at the front of Prayer House at the hill foot.
In this water colour painting, Jacob was in Haran. Taking one of the stones of the place, put it under his head and lay down to sleep.
He dreamed of a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it said, "I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac............."

The description of Jacob's ladder appears in Genesis 28:10-19,
Jacob left Beersheba, and went toward Haran. He came to the place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep.
And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!

And behold, the Lord stood above it and said,

"I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your descendants; and your descendants shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and by you and your descendants shall all the families of the earth bless themselves. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done that of which I have spoken to you."

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the Lord is in this place; and I did not know it." And he was afraid, and said, "This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
Afterwards, Jacob names the place, "Bethel" (literally, "House of God").

Barn Swallows of Sri Aman
Barn Swallows of Sri Aman
a wonderful nature to watch

Barn swallows swarmed downtown Sri Aman at dusk noisily to catch airborne insects attracted by the bright lights for a big feast before settling down for the night on the electric power lines.

There were no swallows 40 years ago in downtown Sri Aman. These birds are likely migrated here in recent years. But today it is a memorable experience to watch such a phenoment of nature.



Sarikei Town had planty of  swallows in the 1980s. It was a wonderful sight created by thousands barn swallows after sunset. Sarikei was then known as "swallow town" because of this.

Then in 2000's the number of the "nuisance" birds had greatly decreased in Sarikei town when the town power lines were buried underground for the modern lightings. Nests under the shop front ceilings were also removed to eliminate the nuisance of birds droppings landing on unsuspecting customers. These drove a lot of swallows away. Many of these Swallow  in Sri Aman are likely migrated from Sarikei and found more comfortable new home here in Sri Aman.

Today, Sri Aman has took over the natural wonder of Sarikei.
Sri Aman town has only about 20,000 residents and these swallows today easily over 100,000 in number.
These migratory birds in Malay language, the local call Layang Layang. Layang Layang indeed add extra attraction to Sri Aman uniqueness other then Fort Alice and Tidal Bore.

Layang-Layang return in huge groups to Bandar Sri Aman every day late afternoon in a magnificent way. By 6 pm, the town skyline look 'hazy' and noisy when it is filled with thousands of Layang-Layang coming from the direction of Lupar River. These Layang-Layang will continues flying in the sky for some time before descending to the power cable in the town central.
This every day routine seemed normal for local residence of Bandar Sri Aman but not for visitors to the town.
The local hate these evening birds while the tourists exciting with such a magnificent natural encounter with the wildlife.
The local just hate the droppings from the sky. Dropping directing to their heads, dropping to motorcyclists' hamlets, dropping to their car's top.

Swallow and Swiftlets

It is easy to confused between Swallows and Swiftlets. Even a Bird's Nest dealer in my town confused Swiftlets with Seagull; in his commercial banner advertising eatable bird's nest, he used the picture of a seagull in stead of a Swiftlet.

The Swallows we saw tonight are not the same as the Swiftlets (Collocalia Family).
1) Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica), the above, has a long forked tail and curved, pointed wings. Their nest are made of grasses and uneatable by human.

2) Swiftlets (Collocalia Family) have recently been commercially reared in Malaysian birdhouses for their edible bird nests that value millions Ringgit export each year. A kilograms of processed bird nest currently could cost up to RM10,000 in the market.

Swallows are migratory birds from places like Japan and Siberia that fly to Sarawak to escape the harsh winter. There is a 5-year study on these migratory swallows in Sri Aman by the Sarawak Biodiversity Council on their impact to Sarawak's ecosystem and potential as a tourist attraction.

The barn swallows build cup-shaped nests with mud collected with their beaks. The inside of the nest is lined with saliva, feathers and grass. The female lays 4-5 eggs. Both parents construct the nest and feed the young. They roost on cliffs and in caves. But when migrated away from cliffs and caves, they build their nests in man made structures such as under the sheltered ceilings of shop fronts.

Only the House swiflets (Aerodromas Fuciphagus) and the Cave Swiflets (Aerodromas Maximus) produce the edible nest.

These birds we saw in Sri Aman that cause the nuisance in towns with their droppings and sheer numbers are the Swallows (barn swallows and house swallows). Both Swallow and Swiftlets compete for insects.
"How did you captured this swallow?"

Waterfront of Sri Aman
Waterfront of Sri Aman

Photo above : Waterfront in Sri Aman in a gloomy morning when the sun did not shine.


This waterfront on the bank of the Batang Lupar River is famous for its tidal bore. Tidal Bore phenomenon is known to occur at 66 locations worldwide, only 3 in Malaysia. Batang Lupar River is the only one in Sarawak.

The new walkway allow people to view the tidal bore phenomena closely from the waterfront. Here is also the venue for the annual boat race in Sri Aman.

The tidal bore usually occurs on the 3rd and 18th days of the Chinese lunar calendar. The tidal bore is a high wave caused by the meeting of two opposite tides at the narrow river estuary. One is the seawater tide from the sea and the other is river tide from the upper river. The tidal height depends on the time of the year, weather and phase of the moon.

Waterfront in Sri Aman, Sarawak
Waterfront in Sri Aman

The waterfront is on the riverbank of the Sg. Batang Lupar which is famous for its tidal bore.

Eating out in Sri Aman
Eating out in Sri Aman

There are two food centers in Sri Aman : The old Food Center and the new My Food Court. Both are walking distance of 5 minutes in between.
Food Center is in the center of old town. Here are mostly old people with their family members.
My Food Court 我的咖啡屋 opened recent years in the New Township and frequent by young people. Both Halah and non-halal foods are found here.


now the Theatre Inn

Theatre Inn was Simanggang Theatre in the 1960s. It was equivalent a "Computer with Internet access" to me and peer group those days.

Pigeons Statue
Pigeons Statue
The symbol of Sri Aman

Pigeon is Sri Aman town Icon. This statue located at the main round about between the old town and new township.
North of this Pigeon Statue (Right of above photo) is the old town beside Lupar River once called Simanggang. One of the old historical towns in Sarawak developed by pioneers of the British and Chinese 100 over years ago.
South of this Pigeon Statue (Left of this photo) is the New Township of Sri Aman that begun to develop the turn of this new century by Malaysian Government and local business sectors. This are will keep on developing decades to come.
West of this Pigeon Statue (Distance background of the photo) is Government Area. This is the locations of Government Department Offices, Public swimming pool, Sport ground, Stadium. The Residency House is also here.
East of this Pigeon Statue (Direction the pigeons facing you) is the direction of the highway where visitors from Kuching, Sibu and as far as Kota Kinabalu City and Brunei arrive from. When you see this Pigeon Statue, you have finally reach Sri Aman after the long journey. "Welcome to Sri Aman!"

In conjunction with tourism efforts, government built a tidal bore observation station near the riverside.  It is a positive development to the small town especially in tourism area.

Pigeon is associated with peace. In Sri Aman, a stature of two pigeons erected at the exact location where the historic event "Deklarasi Sri Aman" or "Sri Aman Declaration" was held. Sri Aman is a Malay word for peace.

"Sri Aman Declaration" was signed by the Chief Minister of Sarawak, Datuk Haji Abdul Rahman Ya'kub and Mr Bong Kee Chok (Director and Commissioner of North Kalimantan People Party, PARAKU) on the 21st October 1973 at the Rumah Sri Aman (previously known as Residensi Simanggang).

From Colonial Quarters to New Township
From Colonial Quarters to New Township
from tranquility to prosperity

New town extension, a new town landmark under construction, a 10 storey three stars hotel being developed, commercial blocks and many more
shop houses for Sri Aman. A total of 100 shop houses will be built in this Sri Aman new township.

The first phase of 40 units completed in 2011 and business commenced in first phase of the Sri Aman new township.

These Phase One and Two of the new township is a joint project between a local Sri Aman contractor and the Sarawak Land Development Authority

Sri Aman town is expanding and people in the area would have a fair share
of development over the coming years.
Sri Aman town continue to prosper as the little town has seen many changes over the years that came with the developments of a RM200 million new hospital to provide better health care services to the people.
The first phase of Sri Aman new township, within the vicinity of the old town, provide tourists and visitors with better accommodation and shopping facilities during their stay.
Sri Aman finally have a three-star hotel and hopefully to lure more people to come and stay longer during the Annual Tidal Bore Festival.

Sing Eng Methodist Church, Sri Aman 基督教衛理公會新恩堂
Sing Eng Methodist Church, Sri Aman

Lot 187 Jalan Paya, 95000 Sri Aman, P O Box 50, 95007 Sri Aman
Tel : 083-326245
Fax : 083-322162
Every Sunday
08:00 A.M
07:00 P.M

Pasar Tamu
Pasar Tamu
at Jalan Berek Polis in Sri Aman

Pasar Tamu Sri Aman is open everyday. The market is busy almost everyday except for certain days off such as Gawai Dayak

More than 50 dealers selling a variety of products in Pasar Tamu Sri Aman which include vegetables, fruits, fish, crabs, grudge, salted fish.

The market is popular for its natural jungle produce.

A wide range of interesting fresh products offered at Pasar Tamu. from handicraft items through to food items. Crops and forest products are the main focus. Many forest and agricultural products such as Pantu, yams, Water Spinach and the like.


Fort Alice (Kubu Alice)
Fort Alice (Kubu Alice)

The town of Simanggang was opened by the White Rajah in 1849 and served as a fort as well as an administrative centre for the government. In 1849, the Raja of Sarawak built a fort called James Fort at the mouth of Skrang River.

Earlier in 1853 and further upstream, James Fort was attached by Rentap and his follows but failed. Rentap was a warrior from the famous Dayak Skrang tribe.

Jun 1864, that James Fort was shifted and rebuilt to more suitable location Simanggang on a hill beside the river and named after Rani Margaret and called Alice Fort. Alice fort marked the start of development for Simanggang. The first Resident of Simanggang was James Brooke.
Simanggang as an administrative centre needed English speaking staff to manage the offices. In 1960, my father was transfer from Kuching office to be posted in Simanggang. He came to Simanggane with 4 children. I being the eldest age about 6 and Fook Shen being the youngest at only few months old.

A.J.N. Richards: a brief autobiographical note, 1981 :


Taman Panorama Benak
Taman Panorama Benak

This is a  special platform to view the natural phenomenon had been built on the river bank of Batang Lupar.
"Taman Panorama Benak" - This artistic designed park adds some beautification to this otherwise color fading town.

Taman Panorama Benak is located opposite Sri Aman Resident Office and beside Alice Fort. Its strategic location at a higher ground has make it an ideal platform to view the Benak phenomenon with more lengthy distance.

Taman Panorama Benak is a public park at  Fort Alice site in Sri Aman Town.

This park has won an international honour at the Arcasia Awards for Architecture 2013.

Submitted by architect Mike Boon of Arkitek JFN Sdn Bhd, it received a mention in the Public Amenity: Social/Institution Buildings Category at the awards ceremony in Nepal last week.

The award recognises the architect’s design approach that has successfully addressed site, heritage and cultural issues.

Instituted by the Architects Regional Council of Asia (Arcasia), the awards aim to encourage and recognise exemplary work by architects working in Asia.

Mike Boon said this was the second architecture award received by Taman Panorama Benak after it won Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia’s national PAM Award in the Public and Civic Buildings category in 2010.

He said the project was conceived as a public park with a wheelchair-accessible ramp to bring visitors from the road down to a new river esplanade in Sri Aman town.

The 7 metres drop from the road level to the esplanade means that, functionally, the ramp has to wind down the slope with sufficient distance to achieve a gentle gradient.

This results in a spiral form resembling the midin or paku, a local wild fern which is also significant among the Ibans.

This park site is separated from the town and waterfront by a small hill where Fort Alice, the oldest surviving fort of belian wood built by Charles Brooke in 1864, stands.

The functional spaces of the park include an exhibition space, audio-visual room and offices which are placed under the ramp and dug into the hill.

A sunken courtyard allows natural light and cross-ventilation into these spaces, which have a sweeping view of the river. Cladding and screens constructed from belian wood are reinterpretations of the construction of Fort Alice and the traditional Malay houses around the area.

The landscaping involves recreating the terrain into a rolling hill slope, which is turfed with existing mature trees retained on site and other indigenous plant species.

He added that the building was now the new home of the annual Pesta Benak, Sri Aman’s largest social and tourism event, besides becoming a popular spot for families.

This park is a new landmark for Sri Aman and is officially named Taman Panorama Benak.

Mike Boon dedicated the award to the people of Sri Aman and presented it during the launch of Pesta Benak at the town’s waterfront yesterday.

Boon’s current undertaking in Sri Aman is conserving Fort Alice for reuse as a heritage museum for the local community.

He has initiated a community engagement programme called “Reminiscing Forgotten Treasure: Simanggang”, through which site visits and workshops are organised for students and the public to learn about the conservation process.

Its objective is to encourage local residents to set up a Friends of Fort Alice volunteer group to support the museum in the conserved fort by the end of next year.




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