When Chen Ko Ming decided to move to Kuching in late 1971, it was a loss of a natural leader to Sarikei. Denizens of Sarikei turned out in droves to send him off at the Rejang River wharf (it was not called Terminal 1 as it was the only wharf then).
This valuable picture showed how the old Sarikei wharf looked like. There was no pavilion then. Each bridge was made up of 2 wooden sections connected to a middle cement section which was piled deep into the mud. The front section was fixed but the second section was left to bob according to the tide (high tide shown in the picture). The ends of the bridges were connect to a floating pontoon (shown below) which still exists today.
Check out the quaint old shops at Wharf Road and Bank Road. Do you remember those two sheds by the river in front of the Bank Road block? It had about 4-5 stalls each which sold breakfast snacks like pink layered kueh, green rolls with coconut shavings, green balls that enclosed attap sugar, steamed and fried yam cakes, panggang rice in banana leaves and deep fried yu tiau for dipping in piping hot soy bean drink. Sarikei's original ding pian hu started at the corner stall in these sheds. The Foochow parents of the existing stall at the shop at the Payang Puri block operated that stall. People ate by sitting on wooden benches. Some of you will have fond memories of the food!
Raja Mas was a cargo cum passenger ship that plied between Sarikei and Kuching. The other ship in the 1970s was Pulau Kijang. Later the Kuching departure/arrival was moved to the Nyelong River cargo wharf (next to the now-defunct wooden ferry jetty). Pulau Kijang sank on 27 Dec 1973 at the Rejang River mouth in the biggest marine disaster in Sarawak's history. Raja Mas also sank on 18 Feb 1997 at the turbulent seas off Rejang River mouth.
In those days, it took several hours (7 hours+) to reach Kuching but now you can do it in 3.5 hours in an express ship so what are you complaining about? OK, fair enough, they still bring ducks, chicken and fighting cocks on board...
Acknowledgement - Ease Chen - daughter of Chen Ko Ming.