Friday, September 08, 2006

Scenes - Sarikei First Hospital

Sarikei 1st hospital and ambulance 1970 (rare photo - people in picture was blocked out by request)

Eons ago in the early 60's, when there's a medical emergency, you would dial 999 for the only ambulance in town. Sarikei's telephone numbers had only 4 digits (5xxx) then to allow for only 1000 numbers. The ambulance driver (Mr Lam) used to live with his family in a room in the hospital which was a wooden building on stilts (like a kampung house) at Nyelong Road near Nyelong River's old ferry jetty. Below the building, there were mounds created by small crabs (kamat) and chickens and ducks from neighbours. The first hospital operated till the mid 1970s after the 6th Division was formed in 1973. Victims from the Pulau Kidjang shipwreck (27 Dec 1973) were kept outside this hospital and the stench of rotting bodies permeated the air.

In the 60's, there was a children's clinic behind the old Sarikei District Council for services like vaccinations that left ugly scars. The milk powder (in packets) given out by the clinic gave me my first taste of this novelty. It was not instant powder and had a raw dairy taste but that's good enough then because most people could not afford such imported luxury. The defacto drink then was Milo cocoa drink mixed with Milkmaid sweet condensed milk (from a can popped with 2 holes to pour).

Sarikei Nyelong Market and Hawker Centre 1989 - Nyelong Road

In 1989 (updated), the double storey Nyelong Market and Hawker Centre opened at the location of the 1st hospital. It had 60 market stalls on the ground floor and 20 hawker stalls on the first floor. Next to it was a building with 6 poultry stalls and a public toliet.

Don't rush off to buy 4D lottery with the vehicle number of Sarikei's first ambulance. Old habits die hard?


Sim Y said...

The first hospital.. what I remembered was full of corpses of the drown victims of the famous ship (Polo Kichang?). I guess it was logical that Sarikei is near to the accident site.

The hospital was smelly for weeks.

May be that's why second hospital was built.

Daniel Yiek said...

It's the Pulau Kijang ship that plied Kuching-Sarikei-Kuching route.

See April post at

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