“Sungai Sarawak penuh keliaran perahu tambang,
Hilir mudik mansang berlawan,
Menyusur arus bawa penumpang.”
An excerpt from Madzhi Johari’s song – ‘Oh Pak Tambang’
The ephemeral purplish orange dawn in Kuching’s sky sets up a scenic backdrop for the Sarawak’s capital city. Indulging in the romantic ambience are people wandering along the Kuching Waterfront overlooking the Sarawak river. Blending in this picturesque scenery are the people who spend most of their time on the river itself, the boatmen who are always busy in giving the river a pulse of life by carrying passengers crossing to the other side. Before there were bridges connecting both sides of the river, they were the only option. These are the boat plyers, or also locally known as pak tambang (or penambang), plying the Kuching’s iconic boats that are known as the perahu tambang (or ‘perauk’ tambang). Their livelihood has been around from at least the 1800s and still survive until today.