It was with much anticipation when I took my first ride across the Nyelong River Bridge during Chinese New Year 2009. The ride was so short that it was sort of an anti climax. Nyelong River ranks second to Rejang River for its memories to me. The more historic Sarikei River does not figure much in most of your lives unless you lived along its banks or in Merudu across the river.
It's hard to believe that I learned swimming in this silty river near the original wooden ferry jetty that served Bolen across Nyelong River. More significantly, before the main artery, Repok Road, was built, villagers had to row their sampan down this river to go to Sarikei downtown.
My mum, her brother and sister had to row their boat down Nyelong River with my grandpa from their farm house in Sungei Stok whenever they visited downtown. Sungei Stok (a branch off the old Sarikei-Bintangor Road) is one of the Cantonese enclaves after the Cantonese pioneers had settled in Sare. My maternal grandpa was driven by poverty to leave other siblings in China with his sister. He boarded a ship from Hong Kong and headed into the promised land.
Later my maternal grandpa rented a room at No 5 Repok Road, Weng Nging 永源. He worked in the Cantonese Association (No. 18 Repok Road) during kapitan Chen Ko Ming's time. With his meagre earnings, he saved for my uncle to study in Australia.
Today's story depicts the spirit of the early migrants. What's your story?