he salty river breeze caressed your face as your express boat departed from Sarikei Wharf Terminal 2. It picked up speed as it headed west towards the Rejang River mouth at South China Sea. The river breeze massaged you while the tropical sun bathed you. One unusual sight along the way was the long electricty cables that hanged across the width of the Rejang River. You passed by several timber processing plants. After 45 mins-1 hour, Tanjung Manis new town beckoned. The new wharf was impressive and the welcome pavilion was like those from tropical resort islands (eg. Bintan).
In the 70's, big foreign ships docked in Tanjung Manis to trade with the locals. It's not known whether the stories of some form of smuggling were true on inbound (high duty goods) and outbound ships (endangered animals to be sold as exotic pets).
In the 70's, the foreign ships brought in goods that most of us had never tasted before. There was a cold storage shop at the end of Sarikei Wharf Road (near the police station) that sold dairy products from the West & ANZ. I had my first taste of imported bacon then. They even had cube sugar which was a novelty compared to the coarse sugar available by the kati (not the metric kilogram then) from the sundry shops. Apples, grapes and pears were luxury imported items and the two kopitiams (coffeeshops) opposite the Sarikei Wharf Terminal 1 did brisk business as people bought them as greeting gifts when they visited relatives in Binatang and Sibu.
Tanjung Manis downtown is developed to serve the foreigners that transit here and people that have come to work in this industrial boom area. It has gone beyond the original timber processing into other light industries like fisheries, seafood processing, ice blocks, etc. Goverment investment poured in due to its deep sea port and its proximity to the Rejang River mouth which is a strategic location along the lifeline (Rejang River) of Sarawak's vast hinterland.
The downtown has 4 blocks of shops. It has grocery shops, kopitiams, restaurants, video & games shops, etc. Sing Chuong restaurant from Sarikei has a branch there. There's even a StarBucks pub. You probably can not order cappucino there but maybe the local kopi-cino.