Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Scenes - Sarikei Nyelong River

Sarikei Nyelong River 2006
Old ferry jetty on left, JKR wharf on right. Marine Police in background.
Find the hidden tributary across the river.
This is Sarikei's 1st "simming pool"
Source: Lam Lai Chee

he stretch of Nyelong River (义 廊 河) next to the designer toilet is the old stretch. Many will remember the portion between the JKR wharf and the old ferry jetty as their "swimming pool". The old ferry jetty used to be a simple shed where the old ferry transported passengers, bicycles and motorbikes across to the villages. I have never been across before the new road to Bintangor was built. Some of my old classmates commuted everyday via this ferry. What was over the other side in the old days?

Sarikei Nyelong River 2007
This boardwalk replaces the old ferry jetty.
Find the mangrove air roots sticking out of the mud.

The old ferry shed had rotten wood and was replaced by a boardwalk in the late 1990s where sampans (boats) can be berthed. This picture showed a Melanua lady, her kid and dog waiting for her hubby to bring back his haul of mud crabs from the tributary across the river. What tributary? She pointed to a hidden tributary among the nipah palms. To catch mud crabs, you tie a piece of pungent salted fish in an square open net supported by metal wires and when the crabs crawled in, their long legs got stuck into the holes of the net. Hands up for those who like to savour mud crabs.

Sarikei Nyelong River ferry 1990
Source: 1991 government magazine

Sarikei Nyelong River 2006
Bintangor side
Source: ?

The new Nyelong River ferry started in 1987 when the new road to Bintangor was completed. In the old days, Binatang (now Bintangor) was considered a sister town 30-45 mins by express boat up the Rejang River or 40mins by the old road via Repok Road. With the new ferry service, it is a breeze in 15-20mins and Bintangor becomes like a suburb of Sarikei. You can have kampua noodle in Sarikei and then the famous rojak salad in Bintangor without your stomach realising that you did so in 2 different towns.

Sarikei Nyelong River Marine Police 2004

Sarikei Nyelong River Marine Police 2007
Find the hidden tributary across the river.
Find the Nyelong-Rejang river confluence in the background.
Click to enlarge. Click back arrow to come back

The Marine Police department is located after the old ferry jetty. Their role is to police the sea and rivers for people like illegal migrants, pirates, smugglers, criminals on the run, etc. Do you remember when their boats used to stop the Sarikei-Binatang-Sibu express boats in the 1970-80's to check your identity cards (IC)? "Mana lu deng kii?" ("Where's your IC?" in a mix of Hokkien influenced Malay).


Kanga said...

I remembered this 'swimming pool' and the competitions organised, such as diving, catching ducks in water, etc in the early days. The mere mention of 'glass' stopped me from entering this part of river after one attempt.
Yes! crabbing; must pull the crabbing device up fast in water to pin the crab into the netting or else you will lose the crabs swimming away.
Anyone still remembered the incident when the Sarikei Marine Police captured the deputy rebel leader of the Brunei Rebellion in the 60's? The police boat was launched from this old jetty and caught him in a boat travelling along the far shore of River Rejang opposite Sarikei.

stlau said...

In the 70's, over at "Bo Len", there is actually a small river (width ranging from 3 to 6 feet) which runs for miles. Lots of "Tan Leng" (cat fish) and we would build dams from mud, drained off the water with a few pails to see what’s at the bottom of the river (usually some fish and occasionally a snake). Once a year, literally thousands of small crabs can be found in the river bank and the local villagers would use pails to collect them. The crabs are then grounded and fermented. I think you could use it as a dipping sauce and also for stir-frying. In Foochow, this sauce is called “Ha Chiong” (Ha=prawn, but the ingredient is actually crab; Chiong=sauce). About 10 minute walk after crossing the ferry, you will pass by a tall wooden bridge (probably 10 feet above water level). I think the river is gone. BTW, the river water was black but clean. People there depended on the river water for cooking, bathing, washing clothes, etc. At that time, there was no electricity or piped water. There was also this guy in “Bo Len” who won many singing competitions in the 70’s. I hope some readers can send Daniel some photos (preferably from the 70’s or earlier) of old houses in "Bo Len".

Daniel Yiek said...

There were swimming dares from teens to each other to swim across the river. Some succeeded and some were swept away by the current and had to rescued by the old ferry. There were no casualty in the old days from swimming in that river as far as I know. Most kids got canned at home for swimming there. No buaya (crocs) either. The less busy Sarikei River had occassional small crocs, I heard.

Didnt know that the village across the river is called Bo Len. Ha Chiong (Foochow) or Hey Ko (Hokkien) is great for rojak!

Moi Chu (my ex-classmate now in Vancouver), if you are reading this, send me some old pics of your home at Bo Len.

Lidasar said...

I found out sometime back there was this guy from the other side of the river who won Gold medal in the hammer throw at each consecutive SEA Game for a number of years, if I can recall correctly his name should be Wong Tee Kwee. You should have reasons to add him as a famous Sarikien, he should be the most decorated sports personnel from Sarikei to date and an ex-Anthonian too. Check it out!

ront said...

i think stlau's Bo Len means Bo lay kang.......and the Ha Chiong...isnt it suppose to be Pan Ngi Jiong (small crabs sauce)...sort of maroon in color, ha chiong is mostly pink.

and the guy he mentioned abt singing is also in one of your entry...abt Janet Lee, he is among the photos.

Daniel Yiek said...

That's a good catch on the hammer thrower. Yes, I recall this big guy is known as "Teck Kui" from Form 5 class of 1983. He trained in Singapore or KL(?) when he was in the police or army force (?).My friends and I talked about him many years ago when he appeared on the New Straits Times sports pages. We thought, "Oh! That's our Sarikei boy!" At one stage, his hammer throwing image covered one half of the glass door entrance of the new wing of the Sarawak Museum in Kuching (the one across the overhead bridge from the old wing). I smiled when I saw that. Good old Teck Kui.

Sim Y said...

Talking about Wong Tee Kwee, I had a chance to see him in SEA game when it was held in Singapore. He still recognise me at that time when I said hello to him.

He used to play table tennis with me, he is left handed and has a weird way of holding his bat.

Can you believe he cannot beat me in shot put during his St. Anthony's days.

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