Friday, December 07, 2007

View - Sarikei Wharf Road 1940

Sarikei Original Wharf, 1940.
Rejang River view.Block 1-3 in background. Block 1 at extreme right.
Click to enlarge and Back Arrow to come back.

Before the existing Terminal 1 wharf in front of the shop block at Bank Road, there was a wharf in front of Block 4 of Wharf Road built just before World War II in 1940. Observe that there were sheds along the Rejang River bank. The wharf looked like it was combined with a godown for goods storage. Does anyone have stories on this rare picture?

Sarikei Wharf, 1947-48
Rejang River view
By Hedda Morrison

To quote the book Sarawak in Pictures 1940s-1970s:

The original wharf, built just before the war, gently subsided into the river and now provided an inclined ramp to the customs godown.
Hedda Morrison's 1947-48 picture seems to be showing this inclined ramp in the foreground.


Lidasar said...

Every other morning was just like the one before; a great day started with an exciting tour of the morning market by the river and on this particular morning was this huge catch of a giant grouper fish that weight at least a 100 Kati. Those days every catch was fabulous and in abundance. This was a huge fish and was unlikely to met a buyer but fortunately one customer would always certain to know how best to do with such a catch. Who else but Mr.Chou Mei the earliest Cantonese restaurant operator whom some of you probably know his son Temenggon Chou Pak Ming of the 70s. If your grandparents or parents are to throw a banquet for a wedding in those early days they would have to look up for Chou Mei. If you guess Mr.Chan Ko Ming wedding banquet was prepared by Chou Mei than you are probably correct but if your guess is Ah Kow restaurant than you are 100% wrong. Chou Mei's humble beginning started from a road side stall on different location such as the front of 2nd block Repok Right (No. 6 Repok Rd) those days the back ground was coconut trees & Malay Kampung houses and also along Central Rd on the side of No.9 Repok Rd coffee shop, Ah Kow's father had a similar stall by the road side of No.9 Repok Rd too. Later Chou Mei started his restaurant and at one point it was at the last shop of the 4th block Repok Rd Right, still wooden block then. In 1950s Chou Mei shifted to Central Rd coffee shop below Luk Ki Brothel under the name Kong Jen Lou.

In those days you probably can't find refrigerator as electricity only comes in between 7pm to 6am and thus Chou Mei doesn't require the whole giant grouper for his restaurant and neither does the other restaurant Man Nan Lou needed such as big catch too. Man Nan Lou the other very early restaurant operated by Foochow from 3rd block Repok Right last shop, Wooden shop then. Man Nan Lou was where Ah Kow worked in his early career, his father was still operating a modest food stall at No.9 Repok Rd having shifted from the road side into the coffee shop was the early journey for Hung Kiew Kee restaurant 馮球記酒樓.

Chou Mei would only buy the huge giant grouper head, weighing over 20 Kati and paid for 2 dollar. Oh my god! What to do with the balance of the fish? Almost certain ended up making salted fish. Beside he also bought something else that was almost worthless then, lobster. Those days who would value such strange catch? From the window of my 2nd storey shop house I saw Chou Mei slowly fasten this giant grouper head to his bicycle and slowly pushing it back to his shop. He would chop the fish head into big pieces and steamed them, later he would scoop the meat out and mix them with Char Siew plus dry mashroom to prepare the final dish.

As usual I would walk my way from Wharf Rd to his restaurant for my evening dinner which was the last unit on the block where Ang Ting Tong Medical Hall was, wooden shop lot then. Dinner was served with this fabulous dish of grouper head and beside the other dish was lobster meat fried with bitter gourd, haha! What a dish then. Over the other table Mr.Chan was enjoying the same dish too. So my dear friend how could you tell me not to remember my best food in life?

Nelson said...

nice one!

tuanlokong said...

Make my mouth juicy though...

Ikan Sembilang said...

The shophouse block on the right of Ho’s picture doesn’t look like Block 1 of Wharf Road. Shophouse Unit No.1 of Wharf Road, which I know of, has a long corridor or verandah on its side and, like all the remaining units in this block, its external façade has a half-round architectural feature at the roof level. Anyone wish to give a second opinion?

What you see in the foreground of Hedda’s picture is not a purpose-built landing ramp but part of a reinforced concrete wharf which had collapsed due to poor foundation. The subsided wharf, probably constructed before the war, would be totally submerged in water during high tide, but at low tide one could go beneath it with a small sampan. It was on the underside of the wharf that you could find lots of river oysters. This particular species of Rejang oysters makes excellent oyster pancake 蠔煎that tastes yummier than any you can find in Singapore or Xiamen.

All Sarikeians know where Wharf Road and Repok Road are. But you have to be a true hardcore Sarikeian to know where is Kubu Road. Kubu is the Malay word for fort or fortress. If we have a road named Kubu, then it is only logical to assume that once upon a time, there must be a fort in Sarikei. I’ve just come across some interesting story about Sarikei fort built by James Brooke in early 1856 and will send it to Daniel soon for it to be shared with all those who are interested in Sarikei’s past.

kanga said...

Hi Ikan Sembilang,
I too heard the story of the subsided wharf. in fact I saw it just about everytime when my dad's boat went past the wharf (during low & lower tide).My family used to bring pepper and other products to Sarikei Town by boat and went past this wharf every time.

Old Kubu Road! Yes! If you know where the Sarikei Power Station is, you know where Kubu Road is!

tuanlokong said...

Maybe someone could update this..well just to highlight feel proud of Sarikei. We talked about the History of Sarikei I read a news saying that Sarikei had won the Environmental Awards 07 at Sarawak level.

Daniel Yiek said...

Ikan Sembilang,
That's a good catch on the architecture of Block 1. The full length windows are the same as Block 1 but how come there's no arches at the top? As for the side balcony facing Repok Road, I dont know whether it's a latter addition. Note that the side
of Block 2 & 3 have these crosses that at the top. Does anyone recall seeing that?

Maybe this pic shows Binatang's old wharf instead (before the big fire destroyed the pre-war shophouses). The caption from the book said it's Sarikei but...let's see what the locals say.

Does anyone remember whether the original wharf is in front of Block 1 Wharf Rd?

Yes, Jalan Kubu Lama (Old Fort Road) is from the Police station to Sebor house/old Sesco and bends around Nyelong River till it intersects Central Road at Nyelong River. The fort was definitely around this area because roads are named for significant reasons in the old days (unlike now). The fort was probably at the intersection Rejang & Nyelong.

Lidasar said...

I might have found the puzzle to the photo, this could be the problem of developing the negative from the wrong face. If you could remember how old photos were developed, the negative can be developed from behind and resulting in the opposite direction. Right became left and left became right.

This picture is taken from the wharf where the oldest market was, when the market was relocated to the block next to Bank Rd this place was converted to a club and later demolished to make way for the new wharf and the warehouse.
Remember in the earlier entry Kanga and I were talking about the old club, this was the building.

Here is also the wharf where it was collapsed shortly after it was build before the war by a Singapore company. After the collapse the authority built a floating wooden wharf that assembles the one in front of the clock tower. During low tide the wharf will be more inclined, this continue until later improvement were made to replace the wooden floating platform to two concrete platform joining together. In the early 70s this was replaced with what you could see now.

If you look at the back ground you could see 1st block Wharf Rd with the arch feature, 2nd block Wharf Rd was blocked by the Oldest Market building and 3rd block can be seen with flat top feature. 4th block which is nearest to this location wasn't at the right direction of the photo and thus wasn't feature, otherwise the corner shop would be the old Kwang Lee Bank.

Notice the colour tone of the roof of 3rd block and 1st block Wharf Rd, it clearly shows the different time period it was build and 1st block was build in 1935.

So this picture is really a jewel of old Sarikei.

Daniel Yiek said...

Lidasar may have solved the mystery!

At the left is really Block 1 with its full length windows, 5 shops (count the arches) and the high arches were the same shape as the 1935-1940 photo.

Block 2's view was blocked.

Block 3 was at the right with its original full length mirror. My only issue is what happened to the minor gentle arches at the top of Block 3.

In Sarawak, only Sarikei and Binatang had shophouses with such architecture so close to the River bank. I had seen some very old pics of Binatang but I dont have them on my hard drive to compare.

Lidasar said...

Need to do some correction here; the wharf at the custom & warehouse area that was constructed by a Singapore firm probably in mid 1930s started to subside shortly after it was build but gradually. This was supposed to be a permanent fixture that was made of concrete but unfortunately the foundation wasn't sufficiently enforced. The wharf was still in use for over a long period even though it continues to subside, you could imagine coolie having to walk on a sloppy platform. When the wharf sink until it wasn't possible to use it was replaced by a floating wooden wharf that assembles the one in front of the clock tower, that period should be around late 1940s. During low tide the wharf will be more slant, this continue until later improvement were made to replace the wooden floating platform with two concrete floating platforms joining together and this should be after 1955. In the early 70s this was replaced with what you see now at the custom area.

The floating jetty at the clock tower wasn't build until probably the 1960s. In the early days that was the water front of the Malay kumpung. You can imagine some wooden jetty extending out from shore where sampans and Malays fishing boats will berth. The 1st two blocks at Repok Rd Right was completed after the war in 1946 and also the inclusion of the wet market. The place started with some hawker stall such as the porridge seller with nick name "鸡 粥 Jow" selling pork & chicken porridge in the morning at the location where it is now the clock tower, that period was the 1950s. The jetty was probably build in the 1960s and the clock tower 1974.

Daniel Yiek said...

Thanks for the year of the clock tower as I was looking for it. The commemorative plaque at the base of the clock was stolen by scrap metal thief!

I think the clock tower was built for the governor's birthday celebrations that Sarikei was hosting in 1974.

Daniel Yiek said...

Thanks for the year of the clock tower as I was looking for it. The commemorative plaque at the base of the clock was stolen by scrap metal thief!

I think the clock tower was built for the governor's birthday celebrations that Sarikei was hosting in 1974.

Ikan Sembilang said...

I have a hunch that the waterfront view shown in Ho’s pic is that of Bintangor and not Sarikei. If the original photo was developed and printed in reverse as suggested by Lidasar, then the shophouse block on the right should be Block 3 Wharf Road and should, therefore, have roof arches fairly similar to those in Block 1 Wharf Road. Furthermore, we know that behind Block 1 Wharf Road is Repok Road with timber or brick shophouses lining both sides of the road. It is unlikely that you would find a tall tree in the middle of Repok road like the one seen behind the shophouse block on the left of Ho’s pic.
If we have a photo of Bintangor Wharf Road to compare with, we should be able to solve the puzzle.

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