A Town Missed By Time
One of the lesser visited towns in the Kuantan district is Sungai Lembing. Sungai Lembing used to be the richest town in the state of Pahang during a time when the tin mining industry was raking in lots of money. Sungai Lembing was and still is known as the El Dorado of the East.
Bits Of History
Back in the 1880s, Sungai Lembing was a major producer of tin mine. in 1888, Sultan Ahmad Al-Mu’adzam Shah of Pahang granted the British controlled Pahang Corporation an 80 years tin mining concession covering some 2000 square miles. Sungai Lembing attracted lots of people eager to make good money working at the mines.
Part of the old Sungai Lembing mines.
The little town boomed to a sizable population of about 10,000 people, mostly miners and their families. This population boom brought about the construction of schools, hospitals, shops, and of course a police station to ensure law and order.
In 1906, The Pahang Corporation became known as Pahang Consolidated Company Limited to meet heavy financial challenges of underground mining which cost a lot especially with such wide spread operations covering a huge area.
The remains of a rich tin mine.
Tragedy struck in 1921 with fires engulfing some of its shop-houses. In 1926, this little town was hit by a massive flood. The Japanese army occupied the town in 1941 to 1945. It then came under the control of the communist in 1950s.
The biggest blow to the town came in 1985 when the price of tin in the world market took a dive. Pahang Investment Public Limited Company (after a change of name from Pahang Consolidated Company Limited) ceased operations in 1986 and never recovered.
An old house that is still in use.
Between 1988 to 2005, Sungai Lembing Tin Mines Sdn Bhd was given concession of the area for 15 years, prompted by illegal mining activities in the area that was still rich in tin ore. However, due to the high cost of mining and weak tin prices the venture failed. The government reclaimed the concession area in 2005.
The main street in Sungai Lembing lined with old houses from days of old.
Sungai Lembing is now a sleepy town losing its residents to larger cities where economic gains are higher, in exchange for tourists. The place has certainly held on to its historical past with old buildings that still have people living in them and large old trees preserved through time; perhaps the only living thing that has witnessed the growth and fall of Sungai Lembing.
The other side of the main street in Sungai Lembing. Notice the old big trees.
Things To Do
The main attraction here is the Sg Lembing Mines where one get to take a very short train ride into the entrance of a tunnel and then continue on foot on a guided tour of the mines. Another attraction is the Rainbow Waterfalls where one takes a ride on a 4WD through a jungle, followed by a short trek to the falls early in the morning to see a rainbow formed by the sun at an angle and water droplets.
Just look at that awesome tree. It is huge and has an impressive circumference. This tree certainly dwarves me.
There is a museum one can visit that shares an illustrious story of the town and its rich mining history. The museum was formerly the residence of managers working at the tin mining companies in Sungai Lembing; Pahang Corporation Limited and the Pahang Consolidated Company Limited.
The Sungai Lembing Museum.
An old street sign that reads ‘South Canton Street’ still stands till this day.
Put It In Your Itinerary
The town of Sungai Lembing is certainly a place to visit. I recommend spending a night there with a trip to the “Rainbow Falls.” Sungai Lembing not only has history to share. It also has good food. Sungai Lembing is a good place to go to for a unique and relaxing yet adventurous get-away.