Thursday, January 11, 2007

Scenes - Sarikei Central Road 1970s-2006

Sarikei Central Road - Block 1 - 2006
The best preserved unit (facade wise) in Central Road.
Pardon the broken window panes.

s you walked down Central Road in the 70's, you would pass by the Foochow owned Mei Na photo studio at the back of Block 1 of Repok Road. Then Block 1 (6 shops) of Central Road appeared after a small lane. People who lived on the 3rd storey of the block could be seen doing routine tasks in the balcony like cooking.

The 1st shop was a Foochow restaurant (Ming Sing (Star)) and upstairs was a clan association where mahjong and cards were played.

Shop#2: A Cantonese tailor cum hair salon. The other half was Ta Xi Yang (Atlantic Ocean) Pharmacy. "Wong's Tailor" & Ling Ling Hair salon

Shop#3 was a tailor shop as well (?).

Shop#4 = (?).

Shop#5 was Kwong Hua textile shop.

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 1 & 2 - 1978
St. Anthony School Sports Day at the padang.
How many kids can you recognise?

The 1st unit of Block 2 was Sing Sing (New Star) where the Foochow entrepreneur, Mr Su Hing Leh 徐興禮, had an air-con office with a display of huge tribal vases and Iban gongs (metal drums). Note the black wooden windows and the stepped art deco roof facade.

The art deco styled Cathay cinema was synonymous with Central Road. The open air space between Sing Sing and Cathay was originally used for the entrances to the cinema but was later moved to the open air space between Cathay and the kopitiam (coffeeshop) at the end of Block 2. The kopitiam had one of the 2 earliest billiard tables in town (the other was at the kopitiam below the Cantonese Association at Repok Road's Block 3). In front of the kopitiam was a Cantonese owned tidbit shop. Check out the huge hand painted movie banners (imported with the film reels from West Malaysia and Singapore) ... now a dead art form with slick machine printed movie posters.

Sarikei Central Road - Block 3 - 2005
(source: Petre)

Block 3 of five shops was the quiet end of Central Road and I can only recall a dentist shop there in the 70's. Block 3 had been revamped from double storeys to four storeys. Central Road is almost beyond recognition with block 2 (Cathay block) and block 3 converted into 4-storey buildings.

Foong Huang Chan (丰亨栈) was started by Mr Leong Ming Teck 梁明德 the manager for Kwong Lee Bank as an import and wholesale company at the last Central Road for less than 10 years in mid 1950s. The shop was trading mostly in sub-quality product such as textile and shoes from Singapore. (updated)

Extreme makeover indeed.


Anonymous said...

The photo studio Mei Na was not owned by Foochow but by a Hakka named Ah Peng an interesting character who loves cock fighting and football, beside he keeps birds & goldfish & at time monkeys too. Yes the family speaks Foochow that is because his wife is a Foochow. Below is the Kopitiam where the famous Ah Kow restaurant operated before they moved.

The 1st shop in Central Road was a Foochow kopitiam cum restaurant named Ming Sing. Shop#2 was a Cantonese’s tailor cum his wife’s hair salon sharing the other half with a pharmacist called Pacific Ocean. Shop#3 was a hardware shop called Tong Hua operated by two Foochow brothers with family name Chieng (Money). #4 shop is a Cantonese tailor sharing with a shop operated by a Hakka family. #5 was Kwong Hua textile shop and shop#6 was a kopitiam with level 2 the famous brothel called Luk Kee. The kopitiam use to host an early Cantonese restaurant operated by the father of Temenggon Chew Pak Meng.

One of the shop in the last block was of course the Hakka’s dentist shop and one of the shops is the Lee Brother who operates a mechanic & repair for outboard motor, their father was one of the early settler in Sarikei who use to own a piece of rubber tree farm right at the current public library behind Rex cinema. Is hard to note such record now, is history un-recorded.

Space said...

i really wonder where and how do you guys get all these details!...i actually learned more about Sarikei on this blog than when i was staying there...

Kanga said...

Yes Anonymous. You are, may I say, at least 99.99% correct. The Mei Na folks were also keen on basketball too! Ming Sing used to supply all my family's lunch for a period. They cooked well. Hey! I think Sing Sing started off as a coffee shop in the early days. The Lee brothers operated their business named as "Brothers Company". In addition to mechanic (cars, lorries & motorcycles) & reparing outboard motors, they were into welding, metal cutting, etc. Hey Daniel, this corner of Sarikei used to be like a light industrial area! My last few visits to Sarikei confirmed it was a very quiet corner now.
H..m..m...The pharmacist shop named 'Pacific Ocean'? or was it 'Alantic Ocean'?
In the 60's,Block 3 (last block) had a dentist shop at each end? Anyone disagree?
Here is a trivial one: Between Cathay and kopitiam (the one with a Cantonese titbit store in front)at the end of block 2 where there was a open lane which was used as entry/exit to the cinema, if one walked to the inner end of this lane in the evening, do we agree that we do not hear the tune 'night come fragance' but smell it?? Pardon me!

Daniel Yiek said...

Glad you find this blog useful to capture Sarikei's memories. The information came from our teacher called "life experience". There are lots of silent readers which I believe also hold great info (if only they comment more lah). eg: I just receive some amazing & rare 1960s-1970s photos from a reader (who dug thru his family album) that I nearly felled off the chair. Can't reveal too much yet - stay tuned for surprises. I noticed a trend amongst the readers who commented and also who sent me private emails - there are experts from the 1950s-190s, 1960s-1970s, 1970s-1980s, 1980-1990s, 1990s-2000s..probably a lot of readers left town for overseas studies & work after 20-25 years old.

Anonymous & Kanga
Wow. Thanks for the corrections and feedback. Ming Sing ("Star" in Chinese) restaurant had good fried noodles! I recall the great food from Ah Kow/Ah Cheng below Mei Na studio.

The public library has moved from the Rex cinema vicinity to a brand new one near Nyelong Park a few years ago(stay tuned for a post soon).

There was a toilet at the end of the kopitiam with the tidbit shop. It was not cleaned often enough for the cinema crowd. It smelled of urine. That's the only fragance I recalled. ;-)

Anonymous said...

The name of the pharmacist shop is 'Big West Ocean' so I think kanga is correct 'Alantic Ocean'.

In the 60's,Block 3 (last block) had a dentist shop, that I can remember and also the postman whom we called 'Ahmad' is also from this roll of shophouse, he is actually Mr.Kong but I don't know why people called him Ahmad.

Getah road which is infront of Kwang Chieng Pri School, could the name of the road derive from the rubber farm around that area during the early days? The earliest library is a small wooden house along this road too.

Anonymous said...

How many of you been to Luk Kee? or were you too young to go :-)

Kanga said...

vaguely recall there was some 'left-field' activity for adults on the 1st or 2nd floor of shop#6?? of block #1. But can recall much more about the rental 'library' for kids run by the titbit shop next the cinema. For 5c one can read a volume of Chinese comic picture book (the size of one-third of an A4 page type and had about 30-40 pages).One can read all about Chinese warring generals, martial arts,etc in comic form. Also remember the 5c pot luck draws. for 5c you pull off a little piece of folded paper, open it to check the number and hope to match and win a prize. My total prizes won was always far less than my cumulated pocket money outlay.

Daniel Yiek said...

The 5 cents potluck gamble is called "tikam" and can still be found in some shops and stalls today.

Daniel Yiek said...

Block 1 Shop#6 has a kopitiam named Hwang Chiu hotel or was it referring to Luk Kee, the brothel, which had closed some years back.

This shop lot is being renovated as of Feb 2015 with the 3rd story extended to the back. The last of the bucket toilet flaps between Wharf Road and Central Road is at this shop lot.

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