Friday, June 10, 2011

In Labuan



I’m in Labuan for a working trip.

Labuan, sometimes called the Pearl of Borneo, is an island with a population of nearly 100,000 people. The main town is simply known as  Labuan Town. It was formerly known as Victoria during colonial era.

Labuan used to be part of Brunei rule until the early 1900s. It was briefly under Japanese occupation during World War II before being recaptured by Australian Forces in 1945. It was declared as a Federal Territory in 1984.

My first impression of Labuan is that it is a very clean and tidy little town. Rain trees line the major roads. Although they are not as big as ones you would find in KL or George Town in Penang, I am sure, once they are fully grown, the shades that they would bring would be a boon for pedestrians.  It is already a walkable city. The pedestrian pathways are well maintained and clean. And being a small town where traffic is still manageable, vehicles are slow and do not intimidate pedestrians.

For tourists, the island boasts a Bird Park and some attractive beaches. But the big draw it seems is the Duty Free shopping. Clothes, chocolates and liquors and cigarettes are cheap. During weekends the town would be full of visitors from Brunei which is just an hour’s boat ride away.

But for fishing enthusiasts, Labuan is better known as a world class sport fishing destination. Being surrounded by six smaller islands, the blue

clear water around these islands is said to be home to one of the world's richest coral and fishing grounds which offers unlimited deep-sea tackling catches.



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