Thursday, December 9, 2010

Grand old trees of Bintulu town

An ad placed in the Bintulu Centenary souvenir programme book showing the pagoda within the public park in 1961.

CU of the pagoda shed with the Yellow flame tree in the far background

The Yellow Flame tree

A visit to Bintulu will make a newcomer surprised at the greenery here. The 23 kilometer ride from the new airport to Bintulu town is filled with trees and forests on both sides of the highway. Once in town any visitor will doubtless notice the tree- lined roads that are everywhere. However there are only two trees that are of historical importance in this fast changing town. The first is the Yellow Flame tree and next is the Mango tree.

I am one of those fortunate guys in town who literally grew with these two grand old trees of Bintulu town. In the 1950's right on till the 1960's I was a small boy in this tiny fishing village that grew into a tiny town in the 1970's. Despite the expansion of the Bintulu town and ultimately the destruction of the old townscapes, only two trees in town stood the test of time. The Yellow flame tree ( Peltophorum pterocarpum) as shown at the inset was where the Bintulu kids gather to play the swing and see-saws. I cherish those moments spent at the public park where the tree was planted. In an advertisement placed at the Bintulu Centenary souvenir programme in 1961 is seen a picture of the park with the popular rest area in the shape of a pagoda used as an ad. The Yellow flame tree is vaguely seen at the background of the pagoda. The most memorable thing I could remember of the pagoda shed was the mosaic tiles on its floor which represented a novelty in architectural finishing back then. The public park is today re-modelled into the only town fountain space and working.
While in Bintulu visitors should try and take a picture next to this yellow flame tree . It is the best living relic of Bintulu remnant of the 1950's and 1960's.

The Mango tree

In another blog I have written a fair bit about this particular mango tree ( Mangifera indica) and can be read here .
Today I could see that the tree is bearing tiny fruits ( see inset) . Well I'm glad the tree is very much alive and kicking. I do feel delighted too with the fact that despite a hive of construction activities around the area currently especially the project involving the installation of sewerage main lines along the old airport runway no machines have come close to it thus far. I dread the day when the local authority will permit the contractor to bulldoze the tree into historical oblivion. I literally grew with this tree as to the best of my knowledge the mango tree was there when we lived at the government quarters a few yards away from it in the very early 1960's. This tree speaks volume of changes in the Bintulu town landscape. There are no government quarters now around the tree and many other facilities that was around this government quarters area are gone like the old football field, the narrow road from town to Tanjung Batu, the town dispensary, prison and police barracks. These remains mere memories of days gone by. But not so the mango tree. It is still there!
It is my fervent hope that the local authority will spare every effort to retain these two grand old trees of Bintulu as heritage trees for posterity and tourism. We may not have old wooden shophouses in Bintulu town any more but we do have two grand old trees.

Long shot view of the Mango tree as seen today.


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