Monday, May 23, 2011

Scenes: Sarikei's Sare - The landing place of the Cantonese



 Sarikei - Sare
Gantry (front) to the memorial (middle) and tomb (right) , 2010


Many of you have heard of Sare 沙厘, the site where the earliest Cantonese first set up base 20km away from Sarikei, but not many of you know how to reach it. You can get there through the Merudu road in Kampung Seberang or through the side road (Merudong Road) on the right of Jakar as you head away from Sarikei. We went through one way and came back through the other just to see different scenes.


 Sarikei - Sare
Gantry to the memorial, 2010
"Memorial of the origins of the Cantonese" 


You will not get lost because there's only one tarred road leading from Merudu towards Jakar. After passing a tall water tank, random longhouses, country houses and a Sare school on a dirt road, you better slow down or you will miss this gantry.


 Sarikei - Sare
Gantry to the memorial, 2010


The left pillar reads, "Cantonese pioneers from Hui prefecture 惠府 and Zhao prefecture 肇府 developed Sarikei, joined the society, created prosperity for co-villagers and gave birth to talent". (Feel free to correct my translation).


 Sarikei - Sare
Gantry to the memorial, 2010

The right pillar reads, "The Cantonese crossed the south seas, xxxxxxxx and created welfare". (Need help with the translation).

Along the walk to the memorial through overgrown grass, a tanned lady farmer called out in Siyi (sei yap) 四邑 Cantonese dialect from her pepper and maize farm. "Why are you interested in such things?". I smiled in Cantonese, "I'm here to trace my Cantonese pioneers." She smiled back with a toothy grin.


 Sarikei - Sare
Tombstone of the earliest Cantonese family, 2010


The shed on the hill behind the memorial pays respect to the earliest Cantonese family. It reads: "Tomb of 義 (Yi) family from Canton, first built in the year of 戊申 1908 under Emperor 光諸 GuangXu in Great Qing Dynasty, set up by the master’s “students”, re-built in the year of 戊申 1968".

Behind the shed is the original graveyard for the local Cantonese. It's so serene that you could even hear the insects there.


 Sarikei - Sare, 2010
Inside the pavilion of the memorial (completed in 2008)
"Memorial of the origins of the Cantonese"


Mural on the wall of the memorial, 2010


1885 - Sare was a wild jungle then and these trail blazers made a living by sawing "red wood" 红木 (belian) to make house tiles 屋瓦. They transported these tiles and wooden planks via wooden boats 板瓦船 to Sibu, Kuching, etc to trade for daily necessities. Then GuangDong province of China had 3+ timber businesses that came to import the wood to China and Hong Kong.

 Sarikei - Sare
Murals on the wall of the memorial, 2010


An early pioneer, Yu Bao (Yu Poh) 余保, was exporting a batch of belian wood to Indonesia and when he saw the pepper cultivation there and struck an eureka moment. He brought back 10 pepper plants but only 3 survived the long tropical journey back to his farm in Sare. The rest is history as Sarikei went on to become the biggest exporter of pepper in the world.

Sarikei also diversified with rubber (mid 1930s) and cocoa and palm oil  (late 1970s). I'm not sure why the coconut industry was shown too (?).


  Sarikei - Sare
Murals on the wall of the memorial, 2010


The next two pictures show Sarikei moving up the value chain into professional jobs and progressing into the 21st century.


 Sarikei - Sare
View of the path from the memorial towards the gantry on the main road, 2010


After beating a path through the thick grass back to the main road, we saw a topless tanned and wrinkled Cantonese farmer in his home made dark blue boxer shorts. We asked and he pointed us to the landing site of the Cantonese pioneers on the Sare River which was just a few metres before the gantry. The sight of the river gave me goose pimples.


 Sarikei - Sare River
The first Cantonese landed near the buah isu durian tree on the right.
A small lane leads to the tree.
View from main road, 2010


The Sare River is narrow at this location. The Cantonese probably landed here not by choice but simply because the river had been reduced to a stream after they entered the Sare River at the Rejang River mouth. Maybe they saw the belian trees and decided it's time to land. This place was wild and was no picnic in the park. Salute to the Cantonese pioneers.

(More on Sare's history - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel,

Are you a Foochow or Cantonese or both?

Daniel Yiek said...

'm 100% Cantonese...but it's not so important to talk about me. I'm just a part time blogger. :)

Sometimes I don't blog enough due to my work. It's not because of lack of content. There're still enough posts in the pipeline to last many months ...so stay tuned

Anonymous said...

A 100% Cantonese who speaks Foochow...rare species

Tuan Lokong said...

I will try to see if anything more to be added later. Now that I have more holidays again.

Related Posts with Thumbnails