Thursday, August 02, 2007

Scenes - Sarikei Sze Ming Primary School and Church

Sarikei Nyelong River, 2007
Ferry going towards Sarikei.
Nyelong Park in background.
Source: Jimmy Ong

Many of you have not taken the old wooden ferry across the Nyelong River to explore the village areas in the old days. In 1987, the new ferry started operations to transport people and cars across the muddy Nyelong River to the Pasi-Selidap areas. Now the paved Pasi-Petai Road passes by Chinese country homes and Iban longhouses before arriving at Bintangor.

Sarikei Nyelong River, 2007.
Ferry reaching Bintangor side.
Source: Jimmy Ong

In the 1960-1970s, a long river of several miles long and 3-6 feet wide ran through the Pasi area. Catfishes could be caught in the river. There was a wooden bridge 10 mins walk from the old ferry terminal. The clean river water was dark from minerals. Villagers depended on it for daily routines like washing, bathing and cooking because there was no piped water or electricity. Once a year, a natural phenomenon of thousands of tiny crabs crowded the river bank. The villagers collected them in pails for grounding and fermenting into a sauce. (Source: ST Lau). Can anyone verify that the small river is now gone?

Sarikei Sze Ming School, 1998
Across Nyelong River. In Pasi.
Spot the basketball court.
Source: ST Lau

The Pasi area is also known as Bolen to some...probably derived from the word bo-leh (glass in Hokkien) as Nyelong River was notorious for its broken glasses that people littered. The broken glasses could be seen sticking out from the mud at low tide. Bolen was an early settlement area. Some houses were originally built in the 1930s. The one block of Sze Ming School 泗民學校 was probably from the 1950s and was renovated later.

Sarikei Wan Foo Church, 1998.
Across Nyelong River.
Find the school block behind.
Source: ST Lau

The quaint Wan Foo Church 萬福堂 is probably from the 1950s judging from its architecture. Its style looks earlier than the 1954 church next to Sze Lu Primary School in the previous post. Wan Foo Church is situated next to Sze Ming Primary School. The bell tower, doors and wooden planks remind you of the old St Anthony's Church opposite St Anthony's Secondary School.

If you see brides and bridegrooms in their costumes and their photographer on the ferry, you know where they are heading now that the secret location of this charming church has been revealed.

"Now you may kiss the bride...hey wait...stand in front of the rustic door."


John Lu said...

Yeah now that's my Kampung...good job Daniel, keep posting about Sarikei..and Bolen (in Foochow it's called Bo leh Keng..and my Grandpa told me it's name after the Police Station before we cross the river..

Daniel Yiek said...

I'n not sure how to correlate "bo leh keng" to the police station in Pasi. Any idea?

Is the small river still around? Interestingly, the phenomenon of thousands of crabs is likely the annual mating season or orgy in the crustacean kingdom.

Also, pls dig your family albums for old photos of teh village and ferry. Then we can do another nolstalgic post.

stlau said...

Bolen and broken glasses cannot be related just like "kei" and street cannot be related. Chinese immigrants have settled in Bolen since early 1900 (my grandparents' house was built in the 30s). Broken glasses is probably a 70s thing and Bolen was already named by then. I think it has to do with the government buildings around the old ferry point. It would be so cool if someone can share a picture of the old ferry (used to ferry passengers and bicycles and an occasional motorbike). Life was so simple back then.

Lidasar said...

Bo-leh or Bolen but it sound more like "Waves coming river" to me. "Bou" is waves sequence and "leh" is coming, so this make the name for that part of Sarikei. The FooChow sound would be Bou-Li Kang and Cantonese would sound it as Bou-Lay Kong. Both meaning waves coming river....haha!!

Daniel Yiek said...

To ride on what Lidasar suggested, Bolen may be derived from 波浪 (ie waves). The one that most are familiar with is bo-leh-kan 玻璃港. ;-)

Here are tools if you want the easy way to type Chinese characters

Welcome new readers who have added comments to older posts. Also, an old classmate (now in UK) whom I have not seen in 26 years just found me thru this blog. Amazing what the internet can do.

stlau said...

According to "The Diffusion of the Foochow Settlement in Sibu-Binatang Area" (page 158), some Foochows established a small settlement on the right bank of the Nyelong River in Sarikei in 1910. I guess you can say Bolen started in 1910. Not sure when it was named though.

That crab gathering thing - if it still exists today (which I doubt it)- should be promoted as a national tourism event - imagine the economic benefits to our local folks. It was an amazing sight to have literally millions of small crabs on the river bank.

Daniel Yiek said...

I received an email from a 70+ year old Sarikeian. Looks like Bo-leh could be a local pronounciation of "police"

Re: Bo Leh Keng 玻璃港

I think John Lu's grandfather was right.I remember when I was a kid I used to catch kamat along the bo leh chu (houses) 玻璃厝 located along the Nyelong bank (which I was told was in early 1920s the police station and district office). The few rows of wooden buildings later became the police barrack. In the old days po leh chu could mean either of them or both. Hence bo leh keng.

Daniel Yiek said...

Bo lei or Bolen is likely a local mispronunciation or corrupted term for "balai" (station) as in balai polis (police station)

Daniel Yiek said...

Bo lei could even be local mispronunciation for "police"

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