After World War II, when you stepped off the Sarikei wharf (now Terminal 1), you would face this old block of post war shop house in Bank Road. Bank Road commemorates Kwong Lee Bank (No. 22 Wharf Road; the 1st bank in Sarikei; established in 1937). It's not named after Rejang river "bank" because the Chinese name translates into a financial bank.
Left-Right: No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Find the traditional pattern of the balcony.
View from Clock Tower
Wong Koh Chiong 黄可川 of Thong Aik 通益 shop at No.1 Wharf Road tendered a piece of Malay kampung (village) land at this location but he passed away before World War II. After the war, Cantonese contractor and kapitan, 邱炳浓 Khoo Peng Loong, built this block and completed it in 1946. Each unit costs RM$16,000. (source: reader Lidasar)
Now let us try to trace the pioneers or at least the 2nd and 3rd batch of folks that occupied this block.
Source: Sarikei Wharf Workers Union, 1st Floor, No. 1 Bank Road.
Click to enlarge. Click back arrow to come back.
No. 1 Bank Road: Eastern Cafe 東方茶室
Eastern Cafe was started by a Foochow named Law Kah Tung 劉家桐. His older brother, Law Kah Hung aka Lau Kong Hung 劉家凰 operated Kiew Lok cafe 僑樂園茶室 (No. 9 Repok Road). In the 1970s, Eastern Cafe sold apples and pears for those visiting relatives to and fro Binatang (Bintangor) and Sibu by express boats. Apples and pears were luxury items then and sometimes the apples your relatives bought could become powdery (ie not crunchy) due to its long display in the tropical heat.
Later another branch, New Eastern Cafe 新東方茶室, opened across Repok Road at No. 1 Wharf Road and is operated by another extended family of Law. In 2008, Eastern Cafe was been replaced by Wang Wang Cafe 旺旺 and is operated by an extended family of Law (he used to sell fruits in front of Eastern Cafe).
Behind Eastern Cafe was an old-style shop (Nem Sim) facing Repok Road with barbers which had cut the hair of many adults and wailing kids with a mini "lawn mower". Click "barber" label.
If you walked up the worn out wooden stairs last year, upstairs was the Sarikei Wharf Workers Union. It appeared as if time had stood still..old mahjong tables and chairs, an old caretaker in white singlet reading Chinese newspapers and the nice view of the busy wharf from a different angle. There were old dusty pictures hanging from the wall using the traditional way. Can someone read the Chinese characters on the left and bottom of the frame? It said some X Wharf Union had presented this picture to the Sarikei Wharf Workers Union in 1960 壹玖陆零 in old Chinese financial numerals (bottom of frame).
In mid 2007, the 1st floor had been torn down for renovation. Unfortunately, the traditional pattern (made of 4 hearts) of the balcony had not been preserved or incorporated into the renovated facade.
Left-Right: No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
View from Rejang Esplanade Park
No. 2 Bank Road: 裕成號, Chop Yu Seng and 協記 Hiap Kee
This unit used to be owned by 黄天隆 of No. 9 Repok Road.
Updated: 裕成號, Chop Yu Seng is a retail store owned by the Foochow family of Siah (薛). Siah Hieng Ming (薛賢明 the grandpa) came from Min Chiang, PRC and settled as a rubber tapper in Sibu. He eventually saved enough money to come to Sarikei and bought this shop. Currently the eldest son of Siah Hieng Ming, the third child in the family is taking care of the shop.
協記 Hiap Kee is a confectioner owned by 黃楨泰 and is known for its kom pia. Mr Wong, the towkay (manager) of San Hin 三興 was a worker for Hiap Kee confectioner before he started his pastry shop at No. 6 Wharf Road.
The road in Chinese was wrongly stated "Wharf Road".
Source: Ease Chen
No. 3 Bank Road: Ngo Ho 五和號
Updated: Ngo Ho 五和號 is operated by the Foochow family of Ling 林亦喬 and specialises in the export and import of local products like rubber and pepper, fertilisers and also sells groceries. It is still in operation today. One of the current operators (one of the sons) has a PhD in agriculture and prefers the simple life in Sarikei.
No. 4 Bank Road: Tai Hing 大興
Before Tai Hing, Cantonese Chen Chow Fu 陳潮富 operated a shop (sundry cum exports business) of his own at No. 4 Bank Road. It was previously owned by Khoo Peng Loong 邱炳農. Chen Ma Chan 陳買長 , his close relative, worked with him.
Tai Hing 大興 was a kopitiam (coffeshop) operated by Law Kah Hing 劉家興, younger brother of Law Kah Tung 劉家桐 of Eastern Cafe at No.1 Bank Road. Sarikei owes its kopitiam culture to the extended Law family who operated and still operates many cafes in Sarikei.
Tai Hing is now an electrical appliance store.
No. 5 Bank Road: 寶聯有限公司 Borneo
This store specialises in hardware, machinery and even paints.
In the late 1960s to 1970s, you could have your kopi-O (black coffee) at Eastern Cafe and stroll to the express boat to Sibu only when it had started horning for the last call. They would always U-turn for you if you wave frantically after the boat had left the wharf. Those were the sounds, smells and sights of Sarikei then.