Monday, March 31, 2008

Express Boat Travel In Sarawak

The first express passenger boat came into operation in 1969. The "Swallow No. 1" then was plying between Sibu and Sarikei. It was a great leap forward in river transport. The usual boat journey of 4 hours was reduced to merely slightly more than 2 hours. With this success,the fast,comfortable and reliable boat services were introduced to other parts of the Rajang and later to all over Sarawak. In the 80s and 90s,Sibu became internationally famed for its ship building skills and technologies. Bigger and even faster express passenger boats were built for overseas markets such as Indonesia,Singapore,Brunei,Vietnam, Cambodia,Thailand,The Philippines, Papua New Guinea and China. Some of these sea going boats can carry up to 380 passengers and sail nonstop for more than 15 hours, such as the route between Jakarta in West Java to Pontianak in West Kalimantan. This journey normally takes about 16 hours at an average speed of 30 nautical miles per hour. Presently there are daily boat trips between Kuching and Sibu and vice versa. This 5-hour journey has a brief stopover in Sarikei and Tanjong Manis. The return fare is very reasonable at RM80 for first class and RM70 for ordinary class.

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