Monday, December 04, 2006

Scenes - Sarikei Swimming Pools

Sarikei Nyelong River, JKR Wharf, 2006
Find the "air roots" sticking out of the mud.
(source: Lam Lai Chee)

n the 1970's, the town kids learned to swim in the muddy Nyelong River while the old wooden ferry did its daily routine next to them carrying commuters, bicycles and motorbikes (cars could only cross when the new ferry started about 100m further to the right). In the picture above, the swimming area was between the Marine Department boats (left) and the JKR wharf (right). The old ferry shed (wooden) in between is dilapidated now. Nyelong River was called bo leh gan (Glass River in Hokkien) because broken bottles lurked in the mud and cut many oblivious kids swimming there.

Sarikei Rejang Teachers' College, 1974

A swimming pool topped the wish list of many kids. The nearest one was at Rejang Teachers' College, 1.5hours away from Sarikei downtown by bus on potholed roads in the 1970s. You would need to know how to apply for entry permission. My only time there with the school field trip was unforgettable - dizzying ecstasy from too much sun and chlorine.

Sarikei Public Swimming Pool, late 1989 -
Foundation laying

Sarikei Public Swimming Pool, Sep 1991

Kids, your wish was granted. Government budget was finally approved for a pool and construction started in late 1989 at 3.5 mile (sa kee tiew bua in Hokkien) Repok Road on a tiny hill. It opened on 14 Sept 1991. It has an Olympic size pool, a kid's play pool, changing rooms, a canteen, an adminsitrative block and free parking. Sarikei swimming pool telephone +6-084-655034

Sarikei Public Swimming Pool 2005
(source: Gong NH)

However, the initial surge of enthusiasm with big crowds after the opening slowly waned over the years. New measures are needed to bring back the public to this healthy sport. Where are the new generation of kids? The kids are having more fun surfing the internet.


Kanga said...

When I was young,I used the Bo Leh Gan 'swimming pool' once. I was then scared away by what the stone fish can do in addition to the broken glasses. I do hope Sarikei parents would provide kids with good physical education opportunities and habbits (swimming is one. There are many indoor basket ball courts for use as well. for me my parents got me to work in the farm). Currently if one looks at the weight problems with kids in the western world, and the potential weight problems of kids in China and Asia, then a good habbit of exercising is important part of life. So that hope the Sarikei swimming pool would be well used.

JW said...

The swimming pool is openned at my time. I still remember paying in around 9am and out around 7pm. Enjoyed every moment of it. :D.

Now a days, I heard vehicle theft is quite serious in Sarikei. Lots of vehicles stealing reported in Swimming pool parking though. What are the cops doing? *sigh*

fred said...

wow... that nyelong river was my father swimming pool. hehe.. some of the big tauke in Sarikei now used to swim in that river also... hehe.. kids nowadays are too much pampered. ;)

btw.. I have been to that swimming pool opening ceremony. that was my first and the last visit there. never been there since. we have the river to play in and im not good in swimming..

Daniel Yiek said...

I think they can introduce incentive programs like "School Holiday Special Rates for kids", "Buy X entries get 1 free entry for adults" and getting companies to hold Family Day functions there. Maybe convert the canteen into a cool coffee cafe that opens till late. ie make it cool for people to hang out.

burunghelang said...

The local schools should make swimming a school sport. The local government should organize inter-school swimming carnivals. My alma mater will be at a great advantage since the pool is just next door. The students can go for a swim during PE lessons.

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