Sunday, January 14, 2007

Scenes - Sarikei Central Road 1960s

Sarikei Central Road Block 1-3, circa 1968-70.
View from Chinese Chamber of Commerce
School sports day at the padang (field).
Source: halamanku
reader sent these awesome undated pictures. Judging from the antiquated cars, the slanted parking and the retro fashion, it looks like the mid-late 60's. Block 1 had open air balconies at the 3rd floor with people living there. Block 3 had closed attics at the 3rd floor which were used as store rooms under the roof due to lack of ventilation. If you had walked up the creaky stairs to the attic when you were a kid, you would know how eerie it was with the shadows and amplified echoes.

Sarikei Central Road Block 2-3, circa 1968-70.
View from Peking Studio (Block 4, Repok Road)
Source: halamanku

If you walked down Block 1 towards Cathay cinema in the mid 1960s, you would encounter
  • Shop# 1: Ming Sing (Star) restaurant. Foochow owned. Upstairs was a clan association.
  • Shop# 2: A Cantonese tailor cum hair salon. The other half was Ta Xi Yang (Atlantic Ocean) Pharmacy.
  • Shop#3: Tong Hua (Together Chinese) hardware shop. Foochow owned.
  • Shop#4: Cantonese tailor shared with a Hakka shop.
  • Shop#5: Kwong Hua (Bright Chinese) textile shop. Foochow owned.
  • Shop#6: Lok Kee 綠記冰室 was the name of the kopitiam (coffeeshop) below that sold great chendol in the 1960-70s but the locals also called the brothel upstairs the same name. The hotel was actually named 环球旅馆 (Huánqiú).

Sarikei Central Road, Block 3 - circa 1968-70.
View from padang - school sports day. 

Block 3 had a dentist shop at each end of the block; one was Hakka owned. Another shop was the Lee Brothers mechanic, metal cutting and welding. Next to the Block 3 on the right was the army soldiers' rest quarters. I painted their fence for RM$7 a day with my friends during the 1979 school holidays and spent RM$1.50 on kampua noodle and drink for lunch.

Sarikei Central Road, Block 2 - circa 1968-70.
Cathay cinema - Loves stories & martial arts
(The smiling swordsman)
Find the overhead power lines for swallows to rest.

Cathay cinema was completed in 1952.  It was pretty grand when the lights on the facade came on at night. The stepped facade was influenced by the crow-stepped gable of Europe. Cheap pirated videos killed the movies in the late 1980s. Cathay was converted to Katina supermarket in the early 1980s and was burned down circa 2000 1983+ (updated). This is one of the biggest heritage loss to Sarikei, if not the biggest.

Cathay cinema thrived on mainly Chinese movies like love stories ("I love you") and martial arts ("I want to take revenge"). I learned more Chinese characters from the movies than from my St. Anne's Primary School Chinese books. Talk about edu-tainment.


Daniel Yiek said...

Due to space constraints, the pcitures are small. For every picture that you want to enlarge in every blog post, simply click the picture. Then click "back arrow" to come back.

Picture 1 is simply fabulous when you enlarge it. It shows busy Central Rd during a school sports day.

gongpiang said...

Very interesting picture as more people are coming up with old photos now. The one taken from Peking studio would not be possible today because the view behind would be the community hall instead of Central road shop houses.

I recall Cathay cinema does have some highlights every year such as life band with singer from Taiwan, HK or Spore making their stop over. On certain Buddhist festival the film show was open for free and the whole cinema was jam packed, all the windows and doors have to open up for ventilation.

Anonymous said...

Though Cathay survived more on Chinese movie, it also brought in English movies like The Bionic Boy, Sat Night Fever and Grease in the 70's. Interestingly, some Malay girls like to watch the Chinese love stories by reading the subtitles and love language.

Rex cinema was more well known for its English blockbusters like Jaws, Exorcist, James Bond series, etc. Rex also brought in Indian Bollywood fanfare. I remember watching the Bollywood musical with lots of elephants.

Kanga said...

Looking at these photos over and over I couldn't help myself thinking of the following:
(1)Most of the people in the photos would be at least in their 50's now. At least some white hairs would be showing among the black hairs.
(2)To get a black & white photos nowadays we need a special feature on our digital cameras or some fancy software on computers. In the 60's to get a coloured photo it would cost an arm & a leg, and coloured photos not been developed in Sarikei at that time.
(3)In the 60's Cathay cinema showed lots of black & White movies (remember the Cantonese martial arts movies!).If the movies were in colour, the cinema would advertise them as 'in technical colours!' or 'seven-shades of colour'(in chinese characters).
(4)To see block-buster movies, you need to go to sibu in those double decker motor launches and took 3-4 hours travelling time each way.
(5)I recall going back to Sarikei after the Cathay was burnt down and I saw the remains like a black & white horror movie. Now the 4-story block looks colourful.

Many thanks to Daniel & the provider(s) of the photos. One can't help hamming Tersa Teng's 'little town's tales'.

Daniel Yiek said...

I contacted the contributor of the photo. The photos are around 1968-1970.

That's St Anthony's Sports Day.

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