Have you ever pondered over the origin of Sarikei's name? It has nothing to do with swallows or pineapples! Once upon a time, Sarikei was the centre for buying and selling chickens and hence it was called "Sa-rie-kei" ("Sa-rie" in most Chinese dialects means "centre" and "kei" means "chicken"). Later the spelling was changed to Sarikei. (Update: This story does not hold water. See latest post on the Sarikei name.) To the natives, it's known as Siriki.
In the early 1900's, Sarikei was put under the town of Binatang (now called Bintangor) and later under the 3rd Division of Sibu. Sarikei became the 6th Division on 2nd April 1973 to better control the security threats posed by the communist insurgency. In the early 1970's, there was curfew in the evening and you could hear occasional gun shots and police sirens. It was a good time to make babies since everyone had to stay home and hardly anyone could afford a black and white TV then.
Sarawak - old map
The first Chinese migrants to Sarikei should follow similar paths as Sibu's due to its close proximity along the Rejang River. In Sibu, the first batch in early 1800's were mainly Hokkiens with some Cantonese. Sarikei's first blocks of shophouses on Wharf Road facing Rejang River were owned by mostly Hokkien. Sarikei's first school, Kwang Chien was started by Cantonese ("Kwang Dong") and Hokkien ("Foo Chien") in 1927.
Foochow pioneer - Wong Nai Siong
In 1901, the Foochows arrived in Sibu thanks to Foochow trail blazer, Wong Nai Siong, who negotiated with the Brooke government to open up land for cultivation. If not for him, can you imagine life without your favourite Foochow noodle, kam pua? More Sarawak history here. History was your favourite subject in school, wasn't it?
Some readers have commented that the origin of the name "Sarikei" came from the settlement "Sa-ley" or "Sarie" along Rejang which later had a street ("kei" in Chinese dialects). Hence "Sari-kei". Hey, for the rest of the Sarikei readers, please ask your grandparents before history is lost!
Some readers have shed some light on the mysterious Pala Munsoh Falls. Blog updated here including a new picture from a reader.