Saturday, March 20, 2010

Scenes - Sarikei Mahjong Houses

Sarikei Wharf Road back lane, 2010
This lane runs parallel to Wharf Road
View towards police station

If you traverse the long back lane parallel to Wharf Road, you are actually walking through much of history. Now it has cement based floors and covered drains. Motor bikers take advantage of the shaded lanes to park their vehicles. Then your ears will detect the familiar clicking sounds of mahjong tiles.

Sarikei mahjong club, 2010,
Near the former Cathay cinema site,

Wharf Road back lane.

A few hole in the wall type of mahjong houses have mushroomed in these back lanes. In the above picture, gamers were immersed deeply in their addiction. Swirling fans ventilated the narrow smoke filled den. Pictures of political leaders & scribblings adorned the crumbling walls.

Sarikei mahjong club, 2010
Wharf Road back lane, Lorong 3

Social gaming or gambling is not new in Sarikei.

During World War II, Kiew Lok kopitiam 僑樂園茶室 (No. 9 Repok Rd ) was the Japanese shop under the name Na Hor (那号) that specialised in Japanese goods. The 2nd floor was a gambling den.

In the heydays of basketball in Sarikei in the mid 1950s, Chinese gangsters gambled on matches. It was no easy task to be referees. Chua Kim Hin (of No. 3 Wharf Road) and Wong Yuk Feng (of No. 1 Wharf Road) were regular referees then.

From 1955, the Cantonese Association provided a venue on the 1st floor of No. 18 Repok Road for gaming especially mahjong.

Sarikei mahjong club, 2010
Wharf Road back lane, Lorong 3

Before the former hospital was built in the early 1960s at Hospital Road, that area was popular for the cruel sport of cock fighting. Different races would congregate at this area to gamble on the potential winners. The two opposing camps were Sarikei from the Sungai Sarikei side versus Nyelong from the Sungai Nyelong side. The Ibans were known to do their "trance" dance whenever there was a win.

In the 1960s-1970s, kids gambled their pocket money away by playing tikam (gamble in Malay) - tearing folded pieces of paper off a cardboard that promised zilch to a few dollars. The house always won.

Other forms of gambling include lotteries like 4D and Toto and more recently gambling on soccer matches via the internet or brokers.

Will thrill and the addiction of social gambling diminish in the long run? Don't bet on it.


sarikeikia said...

Notice anything unusual? "3-leg-majong" is popular in the Foochow's circle in Sarikei.

So learn from them, you don't have a 4th person? No problem, "3-kaki" boleh.

Kanga said...

This long back lane served a different purpose in its early days. The introduction of the flush toilet system changed the use of the back lanes.
Mahjong was and still is a very common form of entertainment in Sarikei. Just hearing the noise of the clashing of chips brings back memories. Gambling associated with mahjong is unavoidable and unfortunate. I was never allowed to get near any mahjong tables in Sarieki when I was young.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

What a nice father was a good mahjong player. He and his kaki played in Sibu Recreation Club and I used to have my siew mai there if he took me off my mother's hands for a few hours. I would sit quietly and very still on the staircase and watch the pool players too. Before sunset my father would bring me home. That was good mahjong day for him.

Bengbeng said...

my grandfather ran a gambling joint too during Second World War. It was the only way to survive. Everything else had been acquisition by the Japs

Agatha Anggi said...

This is another part of sarikei that i have no idea of its existence until i read your post.Hehehe...

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