Saturday, December 26, 2009

News - Sarikei (Episode 4) on Astro AEC, 20th Dec 9pm . Part 5

The barber business is very competitive.

In the early 20th century, the Foochow had reached Sarikei. One of the more representative trades of the Foochow is the barber industry. The Old Place barber shop is co-managed by Liu Gong Bao 刘宝恭 and Huang Yong Sheng 黄永胜. The 57-year-old Liu Gong Bao has been in this line for 40 years. His dad, the 94-year-old Liu Bang Zi 刘邦 X, supported the family with his barber trade and his two sons also inherited his skills till today.

"I started learning barber skills at 16. The barber trade in my father's days was more vibrant because people trim their hair every 20 days,"said Liu Gong Bao. Initially his customers were mainly Chinese but today Ibans and Malays have become his customers.

Source: See Hua Daily News, 19 Dec 2009

Submitted by Desmond Chen

His brother, Liu Gong Yao 刘宝耀, and his friend, Zhu Yu Xiong 朱宝雄 ,also started a barber shop called Everyone's Fine 大家好. " The more matured folks go for 'army cut' or 'navy cut'. The younger ones keep long hair for an 'aeroplane cut'," explained Liu Gong Yao.

"Now our prices are very poor because of a lot of competition. Our old shop depends on regular customers, " lamented Zhu Yu Xiong.

Side picture caption:
In Sarikei, inter-marriage between Chinese and Ibans is common. The 80-year-old Chen Qiu's 陈求 father was a Cantonese and his mum was an Iban. He has also been married to an Iban wife for 50 years.

Pineapple planting as a hobby

In the early years of Sarikei, besides pepper planting, pineapples were also grown. Sarikei pineapples are widely accepted for its fragrance and sweetness. These experienced Sarikei siblings, Weng Yue Nan 翁宇南 and Weng Lai Man 翁来满, have a pineapple plantation at Bukit Huang, on an island at Rejang River not far opposite Sarikei wharf. Every morning, they will ride their motorbikes from their home to their plantation to work.

"From young till now, we are used to it and we will continue doing it, "said Wang Lai Man who works under the scorching sun everyday. To manage the plantation well, the first task is the hard work of getting rid of the fast growing weeds but she enjoys the work.

Pineapple planting needs a lot of work and patience to wait for it to bloom (3 months) and for it to ripen. "Pineapple plating is not like planting vegetables where harvest can begin after 1 month. We need 1 to 1.5 years for pineapples."

"People asked me why I don't change jobs. No choice ah. I love and like pineapples a lot. It's a hobby. It brings me happiness and hope." Pineapples bring her a sense of satisfaction and this has influenced her two kids who also help in the plantation after school.

Mee suah making - Foochow specialty

Foochow is no stranger to mee suah noodle. When there is a celebration or festival, Foochow gather to savour mee suah because it has a good omen for longevity. Mee suah making needs a lot of time and good weather. In Sarikei, the famous mee suah noodle maker, Liu Shen Cong 刘腎从 and his family start making mee suah from 2.30am.

The ingredients like flour and water is stirred in a machine. The dough is then manually kneaded. A wooden rod is used to roll and flatten the dough. The dough is then cut into strips and rolled into finer threads. The threads are wound around two poles and hanged outside. He then used one pole to pull and flap the noodles into longer and finer threads for drying.


This is a great episode on the life of the Sarikei Chinese. There are other missing stories including the swarms of swallows of the 1960s-80s and the transition to the biggest swiftlet nest ranching district in Sarawak in the early 2000s. Astro AEC, please come back again next year.

Long live Sarikei!

See Hua Daily News, 19 Dec 2009


Sarawakiana@2 said...

I really like the mee sua part - the camera man really captured the whole essence of noodle making. I felt as if I rose from a groggy sleep at 2:30 a.m. and followed the noodle maker....They are very natural "actors" too...

Simply great!

I am waiting anxiously for tonight...(smile)

sarikeikia said...

The two pineapple siblings are 2nd generation in this field, their dad start growing pineapples in the late 70s or early 80s. The earlier pineapple grower were mostly Malays. Their grandfather was a Jack of all Trade and was once the town's garbage contractor and finally a cobbler at the old Rex after the earlier cobbler retired. I remember the grandfather once owned an old car with wooden door frame. These are people that make up the colorful Sarikei.

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