Friday, June 27, 2008

Scenes - Sarikei Driving Lessons Centre

Sarikei Driving Lessons Centre, 2007.
The steep ramp to the driving centre

At Jalan Bangunan Kerajaan (Government Buildings Road), there's the fire station, SESCO and of course the driving centre which was completed around 1979. Before that, the driving lessons centre was at the compound of the old Sarikei District Office. (updated)

In your drive to graduate from the bumpy bus rides, you decided to take up driving lessons. In your first lesson, you wondered why the car didn't move an inch after pushing the accelerator pedal to the metal. The patient instructor had to tell you that that's the brake pedal, son. The gas pedal was the other one. Oh...

Sarikei Driving Lessons Centre, 2007.
Taking pole position.

Goodness! You have to be an expert at parallel parking to pass the driving test. How many times have you made the instructor cringe when you drove his car into the poles? We don't have that many parallel parking lots left after Sarikei removed the parallel parking at the centre of Repok Road. If you can not park properly, the standard joke is that you have a kopi-O (black coffee) license - i.e. you passed the test through the back door.

Sarikei Driving Lessons Centre, 2007.
The nerve wrecking ramp.

This ramp to test your clutch skills is the most daunting test you have to pass. If you slide down backwards after releasing the hand brake, sorry, kid, you are back to square one.

Now that you have passed the driving lessons, hmmm, let's see, shall it be a Proton, a Perodua, a Naza or that trusted recond (slang for reconditioned) Japanese car? OK, sure, you can take that BMW too as your second car.


lidasar said...

Still recall the earlier centre before shifted to this one? Is beside the old district council office and you could watch them practicing the reverse and parallel parking from the old basketball stadium. One of the earliest to own and drive a car in Sarikei is Foochow Kapitan Mr.Wong Yong Hua of No 7 Repok Rd shop Hua Hin 華興in the late 1940s and they are also the earliest motor bike dealer in town. I guess it must be through his influence that his son drove a car with plate 6D1 in the 1970s. That was the 1st number for the 6D series, meaning 6th Division No 1 car. My brother's Toyota Corolla E20 had a 6D plate too, even motor bike are fitted with 6D plate. Sibu's car are fitted with 3D plate, 3 dimension plate?

MoOoOL said...

Ahh.. The place which granted me my bike and car licence.

Daniel Yiek said...

I recall this existing driving centre was functional in the late 1970s around 1979 as my gang used to cycle there at night.

I think you meant the old Sarikei District Office opposite the old basketball stadium. ie not the existing Sarikei District Council building opposite the padang.

lidasar said...

Thanks for the correction, it was the old District Office.

Did anyone able to imagine what the transport was like in the early days? Long before the war in Sarikei?

In the early days Sarikei had to depend on river transport and Sarikei is blessed with two rivers running on each side with Nyelong on the left and Sarikei River on the right. Is hard to imagine how people get around those days and Sarikei being in the lower Delta region make it even more significant to understand water flow and tide. To travel around isn't very convenient and people must have knowledge of water level, high-tide low-tide, 初 一 十 五 full moon and also making estimation of the timing 电 船 子 motor boat is passing by. Locals would call this motor boat 电 船 子though it operated on diesel. Is common in those days one would have to walk a few kilometers to get to the Jetty only to be disappointed as the boat was overloaded. The whole journey from Sugai Rusak to town would probably take 3 hours and villages will have to stay overnight to catch the 电 船 子boat back the next day. 初 一 十 五 is the best time of the month to travel because the timing is just right to make a morning trip down town and catch the evening boat home. Those with their own sampan would take advantage of the higher water level and stronger river flow to paddle down town on 初 一 十 五, who can own an outboard engine in those days? Come 初 一 十 五 and you could expect the town to come alive and if you are doing business you can expect a busy day, Kopitiam will have their best day on 初 一 十 五and also the Hong Kong styled eating place called 一四七 at the wooden shop house where 金山 Kim San coffee shop is now located.

lidasar said...

In the early days before the war Nyelong River had only two motor boat operator. One of the boat is called 利 隆 Li Lung operated by the shop 廣 華 隆 Kong Hua Lung at No 13 Wharf Rd. The other was operated by Kapitan Chan Wei and the name of his boat was 利 生 Li San. Chan Wei came to Binatang first and started a business but later he moved to Sarikei. He operated a shop in the back of those wooden shops alone Repok Rd in the 1930s but did not continue when he started the motor boat business.

~*~ MeLLe ~*~ said...

this is whr i learnt my 'mount climbing' the day b4 my real test!! =D

lidasar said...

Was it was pre-agreed that Cantonese operate in Nyelong River and Hokkien operate in Sarikei River? 順發 Soon Huat No 12 Wharf Rd operated in Sarikei River that can lead as far up as Bayong. This also explained how Penghulu Eman of Sarikei River is a good buddy of順發 Towkay Lim. The shop "Seng Kit" whom is related to Dr.Yap operated the route down Rajang as they dominate the business in Rajang river mouth. New operators started after the war and when price of pepper starting to peak the river was most busy then, most of the motor boat was started by villages. People also began to use outboard engine instead of paddling. This continued until the building of road and road transport became available the use of river transport in Nyelong and Sarikei River slowly weaned off. The earliest Cantonese lorry and taxi driver was motor boat operator before circumstances forced them to earn their life hood on road. Anyone of you know 陳显 Chan Hin of Meina?

lidasar said...

This motor boat 电 船 子 engine operates on diesel bought from 通 益 Tong Aik No 1 Wharf Rd and to start the engine is a real challenge. First you have to use fire to heat up a part of the engine and when it is ready the two boat operator had to use their hand to rotate a wheel fast enough for the momentum forces to start a small explosion to get the engine running, hard to visualize. Each boat can hold 20 over passenger but normally you would expect 40 to 50 on an overloaded 电 船 子 motor boat. Now can you imagine the sight of Penghulu Ah-Nin of Nyelong River and 50 others on 利 生 Li San the boat of Kapitan Chan Wei cruising down Nyelong River where as Penghulu Eman of Sarikei River on the boat of 順 發 Soon Huat wearing his full warrior gear cruising down Sarikei River on the 18th of August to commemorate the day of Coronation of James Brooke as Rajah of Sarawak on 18-08-1841?

lidasar said...

Under the Brooke's administration Penghulus & Kapitans were appointed to represent their respective people and as Sarikei is made up of two rivers running on each side the appointment was make for one Penghulu to represent each river.
In the old days there were many long houses and each long house had a Twai-Rumah-Panjai to represent their long house but two warrior stand out among all of them. In the 1930s Penghulu Ah-Nin was made to represent Sugai Neylong and Penghulu Eman to represent Sugai Sarikei. Penghulu Ah-Nin was the Twai-Rumah-Panjai of Sugai Rusak where as Penghulu Eman was the warrior from Sugai Bayong.

In the old days one of the favorite pass times is to collect wild fruits and the best place to collect is called 果 山 (Fruit Hill) which was found in many places. Actually these 果 山 are left vacant by tribes after they move to new location. Tribes are blessed with different fruits the whole year round and the seeds are disposed in their surrounding after eating and over the years Durain, lansat, mango, mangis etc etc started to grown but tribes moved to new location for various reason such as tribal warfare, disaster by fire etc and over many years the place became a 果 山. You could simply walk into the 果 山 and come home with two gunny sack filled with Durians of the best quality and who knows the tree was from a seed thrown out from the mouth of the great grand father of Penghulu Ah-Nin?

Penghulu Ah-Nin always wear his full warrior outfit to town, wearing silat & a coat given by the Raja with decorated colours plus feathers and always carriers the symbol of power and authority a Kayan sword. Penghulu Ah-Nin also rears cattle at his long house and this can be a symbol of wealth in the old days. The Penghulu padi field was vast and during harvest the Penghulu would employ surround worker including Chinese to help in the harvest. When on official duty both Penghulu will appear wearing the full warrior outfit completed with Silat, Kayan sword and a Tongkat topped with feathers. This two Penghulu rules from the 1930s till the 1960s and during their tenure they had the authority to hold court (Bicara) on customary matters.

Penghulu Eman could be the 1st Dayak ever been to China, he was a good friend of big Towkay Lim 林 of the Hokkien shop 順 發 Soon Huat No 12 Wharf Rd and together they make a trip to China in the 1930s. Even the great Temenggong Jugah only managed to follow Tun Razak to China 40 years on in the early 1970s. Together with Towkay Lim 林 they are a great pair of cock fighting kakies.

Lidasar 李 大 傻 was called home to be with the Lord on 05 July 2008. May he rest in peace.

Daniel Yiek said...


If I read between the lines correctly, you are saying that your source of all the valuable info on old Sarikei had moved on. May he rest in peace...

Will definitely make use of all the old stories as and when appropriate..

45rpm said...

Lidasar, I think you make a mistake. The old Cantonese shop at No 13 Wharf Rd should be 廣和隆 Kong Ho Lung and not 廣華隆 Kong Hua Lung.

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