Sunday, September 18, 2011

Disappearing Sarikei: Repok Road Block 4 Right - The Medicine Man

This block is arguably best known for its medicine man but there are more than just pills and traditional herbs there. Let's peel back the onion and find the stories behind this block.

 Sarikei Repok Road Block 4 Right, 2006.
L-R: No.32, 30, 28, 26, 24

The wooden blocks at Repok Road were slowly replaced by concrete ones in stages as can be seen in old pictures: Block 2L (1935), Block 2R (1946 after World War II), Block 4R (1953) and Block 5R (1953).

Between Block 4R and Block3R is a wide lane. A small tidbit stall plied its business there in the 1970s. In the evening, the owner simply locked up and wrapped a cloth around it.

No. 24 Repok Road.
1956 school magazine ad.
Source: Ease Chen

No. 24
The Heng Hua dialect group is reputed for their entrepreneurial skills in the transport and bicycle industry. Bicycles were a necessity in the old days so it was good business. Sin Hiap Hin bicycle and blacksmith shop was apparently started by the same Mr Lau Tien Guan 劉天源,a Heng Hua, who also had a old wooden shop at Block 7R. He could repair bicycles, guns, organs, clocks and sewing machines. Later he had smelting and propellers added to his portfolio. Not to mention the heaps of durians that were sold there in the 1970s. Yes, durians in a bicycle shop.

Now King Cheong 金泉 sweets and biscuits store has replaced it and Tanjung Manis Hotel operates four storeys above it. On the side are Kung Trading, Goodwood photo shop and Pao Yu traditional barber (as featured in the Astro AEC show on Sarikei).

No. 26 Repok Road (bottom ad only - updated)
1956 school magazine ad.
Source: Ease Chen

No. 26
A strange combination of shops plied their trade here. A traditional barber (name?) on the right and San Hoo 珊瑚 ("coral" if translated literally) book store on the left. San Hoo was operated a Foochow. The store was not well lit and sold a bare supply of school books, exercise books and sports equipment (table tennis, badminton, etc).  They also specialised in electric carving of business stamps and repairs of fountain pens.

Now San Hoo (L) and Golden City 金城 goldsmith (R) operate there. Golden City replaced Dr Wong Hua Seh's clinic. Ngu's 吳Laser Acupuncture and Massage kneads your body on the first floor.

  Sarikei Repok Road Block 4 Right, 2007
 L-R: No. 34, 32, 30, 28, 26, 24

No. 28
This is the only unit that still retains its original look with wooden windows on level 2 and the open air verandah with its classic diamond shapes on level 3. Let's hope the owner will keep this heritage.

Was this a blacksmith shop that banged through out the day called Hua Hin 興?

Chik Chung 積春 goldsmith and Yang's 楊 Trading operated there in the 1990s. Chik Chung 積春 goldsmith (R) and Nan Wak Wateches & radio store (L) operate there now. Kiong Ann drug store does its business at the back entrance.

  Sarikei Repok Road Block 4 Right, 2007
L-R: No.34, 32, 30, 28, 26, 24

No. 30
The Liang 梁 family with their traditional Chinese medicine chest of drawers had the most memorable store (Ang Ting Tong 安定堂) in this block. You could have your traditional herbs weighed using a aged scale and wrapped in pink paper. Granpa Liang was a licensed dentist who passed away before War World II and grandma Liang started this pharmacy. The Liang family are Hakka (updated).

Later their son, William, spruced up the store with air-con to sell both western and Chinese herbs in the 1990s- 2008. William dressed up in a white pharmacist coat (the first to do so in Sarikei) and many locals would bypass the doctors to buy non prescriptive medicine from him for minor problems. William pharmacy had been sold to a Mr Lee after the Liang family migrated to Australia.

A general practitioner operated on the left. Name ? This doctor was the popular one before Dr Yap came into the scene. He owned two horses which he rode around the padang (now Civic Center) early every morning.

In the late 1970s, the clinic was replaced by Foochow apparel stores, Wan Soon 萬and Ta Soon . Now only Wan Soon remains. A Vodafon hanphone centre is at the back entrance.

  Sarikei Repok Road Block 4 Right, 2010
L-R: No.34, 32, 30, 28, 26, 24 
No. 32
What were the original stores here? Half was a shoe store operated by a Mr Sii, the younger brother of the more famous Mr Su Hing Leh. What was the other half? (updated)

In the 1990s, a mini supermarket Hong Ta 宏達 sold its wares there. Now Tian Xin kopitiam serves its food and beverages there with both front and back entrances open.

Sarikei Repok Road Block 4 Right, 2011.
No. 34. View from Jalan Masjid Lama

No. 34
A corner shop often have 3-4 tenants that come and go to share the lower rentals of the small "holes in the wall". In the 1990s, there was Wan Kang 萬康 medicine store, 南越 South Vietnam watch store and Ngee Hin 藝 tailor (who opened a koiptiam at Block 5R in the late 1970s-mid 1990s under the same name. Before the tailor shop, he sold watches.)

Now a new batch of tenants have taken over. From the back L-R: Huong Hong biscuit shop, Tung Seng joss sticks, Wang Hing handphone shop (closed down) , x, x, x, x, 123 handphone shop.

  Sarikei Repok Road Block 4 Right, 2010.
L-R: No.34, 32, 30, 28, 26, 24
Source: Sarikeians facebook.

Sarikei's old blocks may all look like the Tanjung Manis hotel above if there are no laws to protect the historic facades and if the owners outweigh the economic value versus its heritage. Disappearing Sarikei ... even the proverbial medicine man won't be able to come up with a miracle capsule when Sarikeians want its heritage back.


阿炳 said...

Ang Ting Tong 安定堂 is a old name that started at No 9 Wharf Rd. This is a Hakka family and the towkay-neo remarried a Foochow from the same address. In 1953 the business was shifted to No 30 Repok Rd when the block was completed. This shop was popular with Big-Sweep in the 70s, rumour has it that a winning ticket for 2nd prize was sold by the shop to a poor auntie and her teenage daughter.
Dr Jawie Marsing never set shop at this address, his was at No 4 Repok Rd which belongs to lawyer Chong family.

No 32 Repok Rd brings back memory of a shoe shop operated by the younger brother of the more famous Su Hing Leh, the shop was at that location for several years before shifting to the side of the row nearer to Ah Kow restaurant.

Daniel Yiek said...

Thanks for bringing back the memories.

Yes, 1/2 of No. 32 Repok Road was a shoe store operated by a Mr Sii (spelling is different from Mr Su (Hing Leh)..spelling differences were common during the old days at the registration office).

Can anyone remember the other half of No. 32?

阿炳 said...

FOONG HUANG CHAN (丰亨栈) was not located at No 26 Repok Rd, was actually started by Mr Leong Ming Teck 梁明德 the manager for Kwang Lee Bank. He started an import and wholesale company at the last shop of Central Rd for less than 10 years in 1960s. The shop was trading mostly in sub-quality product such as textile and shoes from Singapore. So I think I would not agree that FOONG HUANG CHAN was at No. 26 Repok Rd. Anybody disagree with me?

Daniel Yiek said...

Good catch. It's not at No.26 Repok Road. I just posted the full page of that school magazine ad which had 2 shops. The bottom shop is the ad for No.26 Repok Road.

easechen said...

Anybody has the contact info for Leong Ming Teck 梁明德? My mum has his phone # in San Francisco but when she called the recording said it's been disconnected. We're going to SF in 2 days, & want to visit him.

阿炳 said...

Mr Leong is a Singaporean and is common that MFA keep a record of Singaporean in foreign countries, so you might want to try to contact MFA in SF.

easechen said...

Thanks for responding!

Daniel Yiek said...

Update: Thanks to Ease for finding this article on the net. Leong passed away at the age of 95 in San Mateo in July'11

See the news clip updated at this blog post. Copy and paste this link

Yan said...

Amazed! Thanks for the memories!

阿炳 said...

Without SARIKEI TIME CAPSULE who would bother to shed some light on important figure such as Mr Leong Ming Teck in the history of Sarikei? May Mr Leong rest in peace.

"Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on."
"Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.""
Revelation 14:13

Daniel Yiek said...

Yan and 阿炳,

Thanks for the memories too. This blog is a forum for all Sarikeians to capture the passage of time of Sarikei.

Hulda Clark said...

Nice post!!!
I like the idea to share post like that it is very interesting!!

Anonymous said...

Hi, anyone out there know how i can get in contact with the Ignatius family. I was a student at St Anthony's Sec School in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Mr and Mrs Ignatius were my teachers, and my late mum worked for the Ignatius. I was in Sarikei last week and as I walked around town i was overcome with emotion. I left Sarawak in 1976 for further studies and then began a career in the academe in Peninsular Malaysia. I lectured at univ sains malaysia for 30 years and now on a two-year secondment with the ministry of higher education in Putrajaya. I am eager to contact Mr and Mrs Ignatius to say thank you for everything that they have done for me.

Daniel Yiek said...

Go to
Key in Daphne Ignatius in the "search" box and click "Message" to send private email to her. She is the youngest daughter.

Blog post on the Ignatius below.

Related Posts with Thumbnails