Monday, July 27, 2009

History - Sarikei Central Road Races 1950s

Borneo Post, 3rd August 2009

On your mark, get set, go! Go for gold on the street of Sarikei - the unpaved Central Road to be exact. This gem of a picture depicts life in old Sarikei. Can you imagine a ladies sprint event in the drizzle watched by curious folks? My mum said there were telematches like gunny sack races on Central Road too. These events added spice to the simple life of Sarikei then.

Sarikei Central Road, 1950s
Balcony view from No. 11 Repok Road: Kim San (金山)
Find Cathay Cinema's stepped facade
Source: Preferred to be anonymous

Gunny sacks were used to store rice. A strong coolie could use a hook to toss a huge gunny sack of rice weighing many kati over his shoulder. Kati was used before the metric system of kilogram.

We can deduce that this picture is from the 1950s because of

a) The British Union Jack flag was used when Sarawak became the Crown Colony of Sarawak after World War II from 1946-1963.

b) Cathay Cinema was built in 1952.

c) The photo studio which took this picture was from the 1940s-1950s.

Sarikei Central Road, 1950s
Balcony view from No. 11 Repok Road: Kim San (金山)

A similar view here paints a poignant picture. The heart shaped balcony of the former Mei Na studio at the back of Repok Road block is gone. Most of the original windows of Block 1 Central Road were replaced and the third storey balconies were covered. The Cathay block (second block Central Road) was burnt down and replaced by a 4-storey building that was still empty as of CNY 2009. The third block of Central Road is beyond recognition.

Where is the conservation effort to preserve the town's identity?

Extreme makeover indeed.


Nelson said...

It seems like old sarikei is more happening than today's sarikei.

Daniel Yiek said...

In the old days, every event was within easy access and easily known because the padang and the basketball stadium was in the centre. Now only the Civic Centre is there and you won't know what's happening inside unless there's promotional banners.

stlau said...

This picture is worthy of inclusion in Sarikei Museum. Note that T-shirts and jeans were not even available in Sarikei. Most people wear white shirt. I also remember the walkaton and marathon in Sarikei - not sure if they still exist.

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