BINTULU started off 30 years ago with humble beginnings as a riverbank village specialising in the production of “belacan”, a prawn paste famous in Sarawak.
Today it is home to heavy industries worth multi-billion ringgit and populated by more than 200,000 people from all walks of life.
From a small enclave with about a dozen blocks of shops just about 15 years ago, one can today see modern shopping complexes, big housing estates and new commercial centres springing up all over the place.
The biggest block that is coming up is the Bintulu Paragon mega shopping and condominium complex.
Located at the site of the old Bintulu airport compound, the project is currently under construction.
The old part of the town is still there but it is getting congested with traffic.
The native Pasar Tamu is still around selling all kinds of native food and agriculture products, while a century-old Chinese temple still stands proudly in the town centre.
Bintulu, about 600km away from Kuching and 250km from Miri, is home to some of the biggest industrial projects in the country such as the Petronas Liquified Natural Gas Complex and the first Shell middle distillate synthesis plant in the world.
Coming up in the heavy industrial estate of Samalaju, outside Bintulu town, are several foreign-linked aluminium smelting and power-intensive projects.
These projects are being developed under the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy.
More and more workers are expected to migrate to Bintulu as these projects progress, but it is good to see Bintulu retaining its old charm even as it grows by leaps and bounds.