For many years I have been wanting to do this recce trip to Sri Aman, a town that is about 200 kilometres from Kuching City. It is a town located slightly more than midway to Batang Ai, which is a popular tourist attraction in Sarawak. Despite that is on the way to Batang Ai, Sri Aman is often not featured as one of the stop over towns.
So recently in early September 2017, I set out to seek out things to do in Sri Aman. I’m sure it had something to offer as an experience. I kept a positive open mind hoping it would justify a short stop or even a one night stay while en route to Batang Ai or for the unique tidal bore festival, Pesta Benak Sri Aman.
The gateway to Sri Aman
The old name for Sri Aman is Simanggang. Only up until 1980 it was changed to Sri Aman. This is to commemorate the peace accord between the Sarawak State Government and the North Kalimantan Communist Party.
I have been to Sri Aman few years back when I was travelling with a photographer and our main intent was to take photos the star attraction of Sri Aman, Fort Alice.
I didn’t have much time to explore as we were on a tight schedule. Which I now realise is not a good thing to do if you are focused on photography. Never rush. Take your time to find those lovely angles.
Here is my take on Sri Aman having spent two nights there.
Slow, relaxing and kind of sleepy. That’s how I would sum up my first impression. I guess that it’s due to the size of the town. Nice and small. Everything is within walking distance.
Twin dove statue.
Upon reaching town, two lovely dove statues greeted me at the main roundabout of Sri Aman. The town was still in Malaysia’s National Day celebration mood as there were plenty of Malaysia and Sarawak flags around town. Having dropped my bags at Seri Simanggang Hotel, I wasted no time and headed towards Fort Alice.
Star Attraction – Fort Alice
First glimpse of Fort Alice.
I parked the car and walked towards Fort Alice. The first glimpse still captivates me. It is my third time seeing it. The same feeling of awe touched me, just as it did two years ago.
. Architecture restored as close as possible to its original built.
There is no entrance fees charged to enter Fort Alice. But one must take of their shoes before entering the Fort exhibition area. Inside is testimony of the very good job done in restoring the Fort into its former glory. The belian hardwood roof shingles, the pillars, the floor, tables and chairs, all from wood.
Cannons to the left and right, looking over Batang Lupar.
The Fort overlooked the Batang Lupar and there were plenty of cannons in and around the compound of Fort Alice. The cannons pointed towards Batang Lupar and were used by Brooke, the White Rajah to fend off attacks from the Ibans from Skrang (Rentap) and their allies from Saribas.
Mud Crocodile Figurines
Another exhibit not to be missed is the mud crocodile figurine. It is used by the Ibans here to ward of pests from their paddy fields. It was also used by them in time of drought to call for rain. Nowadays these ceremonies are rarely performed as many of the Ibans here have embraced Christianity. There’s a whole information plaque there that explains more about it.
Around Sri Aman Town
After exploring Fort Alice, I decided to walk around the town area. Sri Aman is a nice and quiet town. Not far from Fort Alice is the Sri Aman Waterfront.
There is a lovely chinese temple sitting nicely at the banks of the Batang Lupar (Lupar River). It was rather late in the afternoon and the temple was closed for the day and I did not manage to take photos of the temple interiors.
I continued my walk around the town, amongst the old shop lots and discover what businesses are there. Coffee shops, hardware stores, departmental stores, mobile phone shops are some of the businesses to name a few.
Integrated Market at the town centre.
What fact-finding trip would it be, if it was not to go out and try the local’s favorite dishes? So I called up a friend who is from Sri Aman and asked him what are the must try dishes here and he pointed me to some of the popular dishes in Sri Aman.
Open Air Market
This was the highly recommended place by my friend as he wanted me to try Sri Aman’s iconic noodles (as he described), the famous Mee Ah Mong.
Mee Ah Mong
Mee Ah Mong, Charred fried noodles topped with fried egg.
According to my friend, Mee Ah Mong (Ah Mong Noodles) at the open air market, is a must try here. No trip to Sri Aman would be complete if one did not try this dish. So I ordered one and yes, it was nice. I loved it. Definitely will be here again for my next trip.
Curry Chicken Rice
Rice topped with pork and chicken with a bowl of curry chicken.
I also spotted stall nearby mee ahmong selling curry chicken rice. I ordered a plate and gave it a try. It was lovely, truly enjoyed it. The chicken curry gravy was perfect to my liking. Just nice. Not too oily and not too spicy. Highly recommended.
S Tea C Food Court
S Tea C Food Court is also a good place to try some local noodle dishes of Sri Aman. so here are my findings at this food court.
Mee Dawai or crispy noodles with a good serving of tomato sauce.
Mee Dawai is also another must try signature noodle dish of Sri Aman, although not as famous as mee ah mong. This one at S Tea C foodcourt gets a tick from me.
Char fried noodles, flooded with satay sauce.
One thing that caught my eye here was the Mee Satay (satay sauce noodles). I am familiar with the local malaysian satay but satay noodles? Never thought I would come accross this type of dish. My verdict on this? Approved. Worthy of a spot in my other short article on noodles. Please make it a point to try when you are in Sri Aman.
Mee Rangkai Special
Mee Rangkai (dry noodles)
On my final day in Sri Aman, I again dropped by at S Tea C Food court and tried their Mee Rangkai Special . Thumbs up for this one. The mixed meat soup was terrific. After that dish I made my way back to Kuching.
Recommended Place to Stay
There are many lodging houses and inns dotted around town and you can just walk in and book a room. For a three star experience, I strongly and will only recommend Sri Simanggang Hotel.
I stayed at Sri Simanggang Hotel during this trip and here are some photos of their rooms. One thing I liked was their rooms are spacious, clean and comfortable.
Just as a three star property, the rooms were equipped with a flat screen tv, free wifi (important), a small fridge. The shower area is also impressive.
The location of Sri Simanggang Hotel is also near the town area, about fifteen minutes walk to Fort Alice, five minutes to S Tea C. It is also attached to an air conditioned shopping mall, with some fast food outlets. It is a very convenient place to put up.
View from my room
The hotel also has its own cafe called the Seri Benak Cafe located next to the hotel reception.
The Nasi Ayam Penyet and the Nasi Ayam Bakar is the top two favorite at Seri Benak Cafe.
The favourite western dish is the lamb chop. I must say that the menu does offer value for money.
I would conclude that I did enjoy my short stay in Sri Aman. I would be going back again for sure to explore other areas near Sri Aman.
One that I have been thinking of since my trip here is Lingga. I have been told that for crocodile spotting and also Iban longhouse adventure, Lingga is worth the try. Hopefully I would be able to try that during Pesta Benak Sri Aman this coming November 3 – 5, 2017.
Sri Aman, I will visit again.