Friday, May 18, 2007

View - Sarikei 1969-1970 Repok Road

Sarikei Repok Road 1970. View from Rejang River.

Click to enlarge. Click back arrow to come back.

Source: Population and Settlement in Sarawak (Lee Yong Leng)

he town's thoroughfare, Repok Road, was busy in the picture. Observe the overhead electricity cables that the swallows came for a swinging good time at night. The old fashioned cars used slanted parking and there were parking lots for motorbikes as well. Find the 1st ever roundabout in Sarikei (partially hidden between block 2 & 3) but now it has been blocked off by decorative palm trees. Find the popular bicycles parked across the small drain in front of the shops.

On the left, find the lorry parked in front of the shops for goods delivery. Illegal parking was an alien concept in those days. The business supply chain was simple. The importers cum wholesalers sold to middlemen like shopkeepers who sold to consumers. Smaller shops in villages also bought from the shops so groceries in small villages ironically were and still are priced higher.

In the old days of bad roads, everything started from the Rejang River, our life line. Block 1 (Right) of Repok Road (counting from Rejang River) is actually the back of the block at Bank Road. Find the original barber shop that was featured before (click label below). At the 1st floor, find the classic design of the balcony which is still around today but not well maintained.

In Block 2 (Right) of Repok Road, find the 1st shop (tailor) who dried his textiles outside the shop! Check out the old wooden windows.

Sarikei Repok Road, 1969. View from Rejang River
Click to enlarge, Click back arrow to come back
Source: A History of the Development of Rajang Basin in Sarawak (Fong Hon Kah)

Block 3 (Right) of Repok Road was burnt down around 1989/1990. From the ashes rose a huge monolithic block. That took away a piece of the puzzle that completes Sarikei's heritage. The new block just does not fit in the architecture of the old town.

On the left, find the goods trolley with huge gunny sacks of rice, the staple food of Sarikei regardless of race. The trolleys were used to pull goods from the shops to the boats on Rejang River which then delivered them to the river villages like Belawai. The back breaking weight of such gunny sacks of rice reflected the diligence and entrepreneurship of the migrants to make a living from the old days to the present ... from the coolies (dock labourers) who hanged around the wharf to get a day's work to the towkays (Chinese buisnessmen) who hanged around their cool abacuses.


Daniel Yiek said...

These 2 rare pics were found in 2 books (1 in Sarikei library and another in Kuching library).

I'm planning to start posts later to profile the batch of original shopkeepers of every block in Sarikei old town in the 1950-70s because these were essentially the pioneers who built the town. The posts on Central Road blocks are actually quite complete in the previous posts. Lots of research going thru old telephone directories and talking to people. I would think the 1950-70s batch of shopkeepers are/were the direct descendants of the 1st batch of pioneers so the shop names remain the same. I would leave the job of profiling the pre-1950s pioneers to the experts later to dig thru the Chamber of Commerce archives in future Sarikei history projects. Now that this blog can use Chinese characters, it would be easier than translating the names into English alone. Thoughts?

stlau said...

Nice pictures - Main Street was so much wider back then. Thanks, Daniel. I have an idea. Most of us like cars and typically will take some pictures of our own car. It would be nice to do a write-up of cars (70's and earlier) of Sarikei. What about that?

Lidasar said...

Let me try and profile block 2 right of Repok Rd. The pioneer tailor in Sarikei was a group of young Cantonese who went to Sibu to receive their apprenticeship and return to start the tailor shops such as the one occupying the 1st shop on block 2 right, another one block 2 left and one or two more in Central Rd. Also sharing the shop with the tailor is a Foochow goldsmith. The 2nd shop was the medical hall started by Mr.Chong a Hakka who started Kwang Chien Pri Sch and also the grandfather of lawyer Chong. Anyone remembering the shop selling ice cream in front? The 3rd shop Heng Chong is a Hokkien trader, if you suck Dumex when you were infant than this is the trader who brought them in and anyone can recall the 4-D shop behind operated by the same trader? The 4th shop occupied by a Cantonese trader Mr.Lee. The last shop was a coffee shop operated by a Foochow and behind the coffee shop was a ice cream maker and a sundry shop.

Kanga said...

Hi Lidasar,
Your profile of block 2 (right)is spot on. Second shop is named "Jie-kang"(in mandarin)and also dealt in cloth/garments etc. Heng Chong also sold electrical goods. My family bought our first tansistor radio (Philips brand)from this shop for my farm house to mainly listern to Radio singapore broadcasting the commodity (rubber, pepper, etc)prices in Hokkien. I remembered the ice-cream shop selling icy-poles with red beans at the top; 5 cents each. In my very young days, whenever I came to town from the farm, Block 2 right was the area I hang around.

Anonymous said...

Oh Yes Kanga, Jie-Kang! I remember making fortune selling “3-leg” Powder. The one that was popular for controlling headache or rather additive too. The journey sending the eldest son to UK to study law via Singapore was a rewarding one having bringing back the agency for the “3-leg” powder on the same journey.

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