Sunday, 8 May 2016

Dead Town, Astrophotography Heaven

The photo above was taken on 08.05.2016 at approximately 12.15am. It was just right after Sarawak State's election, the night the result was announced. I didn't have the intention to go out of the house to get some shots, but upon seeing many stars I decided to take out the camera. The Milky Way wasn't obvious at first. I took several shots of the night sky at random directions and found it. It was right in front of my parents' house. 

While capturing the Milky Way photos, many things came to my mind. I know people who don't do Astrophotography would wonder about my Instagram post which I tried to relate to the political scene in a 'Dead Town'. Sri Aman or formerly known as Simanggang was dubbed the Dead Town ever since my childhood for a reason. Despite being governed by the same old ruling political party for decades, not much seem to change. The town itself barely expands since I was a kid, life is moving at a slow pace and pretty relax. Still very much a suburban area with little light pollutions. 

Those who are into Astrophotography know one needs to be away from the city lights as far as possible if you intend to see the Milky Way. I never have to go that far to get the shot because there's not much light pollutions around the town. I can just take the shot from the parking space at my parents'. This is an indication the town is not that developed, yet. Human can claim they have done a lot to bring development into this sleepy town but the stars in the galaxy don't lie. The Milky Way and the stars tell you the truth. 

For as long as we still can enjoy the ever mesmerising starry night sky in Sri Aman from our own backyard, you know the town isn't going through much transformation. Don't be easily swayed by the promises made at every election, words are cheap. So here's my suggestion to the locals, since the only thing that attracts outsiders flocking this Dead Town is the Benak, why not turn it into a heaven for Astrophotographers too. I'm sure you are smart enough to figure out effective ways to promote this outdoor hobby and generate income for the town through tourism. At least people don't have to travel all the way up to Bario or Mount Kinabalu to capture the stunning Milky Way. Never underestimate the beauty of night landscape, explore the Instagram and its Astrophotography communities, you'll know why people love to travel to a few Northern countries just for the sake of witnessing Aurora Borealis with their own eyes. Norway, for instance, turns it into tourism opportunity not only for the locals but also for stargazers and astrophotographers from around the globe. 

Perhaps it's best to not wake this town up from its current state, or do we have to? Either way, is it good?  I don't know, time will tell. For the time being, I think I can live with the fact I still can enjoy looking at the Milky Way from the comfort of my parents' home. Whatever it is, I hope the newly formed State's government will run this state with transparency and fulfill all your promises within these five years. Otherwise it is just another failed attempt to impress.