Before the tourism sector boom in Sarawak, there were several historical places left unattended, withering away and becoming ghost towns.
One of those towns is Siniawan, which looks like a ‘Wild West’ cowboy town in Red Dead Redemption with a single street. When original residents moved out to new towns like Kuching and Bau, the 100-year-old bazaar became a very quiet place.
In the old days, Siniawan, located 26km from Kuching was a thriving trading town populated mostly by the Hakka community. It almost stayed as a ghost town but was revived thanks to the Siniawan business community’s creativity in coming up with a new business model in 2010.
Today, the historical town is a popular weekend night market, also known as the Siniawan Old Town Night Market, offering visitors a variety of local delicacies. The market operates from 6pm to 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 5pm to 11pm on Sundays.
It was made possible thanks to the efforts of its Pemanca (local headman), Bong Jong Koh and its residents, who transformed Siniawan into a vibrant night market which is popular among locals and foreign tourists.
“It’s worthwhile exploring the market as there are plenty of choices of food, and they’re delicious too,” said Egberg Koh, 61, from Kuala Lumpur, who last visited the bazaar before MCO took place.
He said when he first visited the town in the early 1980s, it was a very quiet place. “Siniawan was like a ghost town where only a few shops opened for business but during my last visit there, I was surprised with what I saw,” he told Bernama.
A visitor from Selangor, Carol Chong, 58, was equally impressed with what she saw, saying that the environment was nice with plenty of food choices while the prices were reasonable.
The stalls are lined along the whole stretch of the street with dining tables placed out on the streets for visitors. Besides Chinese food, Malay and local traditional snacks and desserts are also available there.