April 7, 2010

Ulu Ensurai - Red River (Ang Chui Kow)

Dear readers ..

When we were young we used to sing this song...Red River Valley...





And recently I went back to Ensurai where I again saw many streams with red water.....so many memories came flooding back....

This is an exceptional posting. Yes we still have our Foochow ladies washing their clothes out in the sun and on a floating mini jetty for old times' sake...or according to my cousin (Mrs. Wong Pak Huo) " it is a good way to wash all these dirty and oil stained clothes......"

Here you see a Foochow lady washing her clothes exactly like what we did in the 1950's and 1960's. When we were young.....we used to wash clothes in a smaller stream which flowed clearly  into the Rajang River. Somehow the water would be reddish in colour but pristine clear. And the temperature of the water would be really cool. We called this water "red water". The stream is not a river but a "oh yian" or "kow". And sometimes we even took back the water home by bicycle in an old biscuit tin or kerosene tin.

This water is clean and clear. Lovely reflections.


Meng Lei first saw a washerwoman and he drove backwards to this spot. What a nice discovery! Further inland from Ensurai (Ow San) this lady I found to be my cousin Mrs. Wong Pak Huo after some introductions and questioning. She is washing her son's clothes.


Soaps are kept in a small pail. And she is scrubbing the clothes on a wooden washing board. this is Chuir in Foochow - a word which might have been forgotten. Scrub scrub scrub and the clothes would be clean from dirt...(Remember King of the Grill who likes to say..."pat pat pat.....shake shake shake...)

Typical striped underwear!! And to dip a piece of washing into water is called "tou"..So if you tou tou tou several times all the soap will be gone and you get a well washed and fragrant shirt.....

Her bicycle....and the tell tale pail... It is lovely to go home with well rinsed and well squeezed
(chuing )laundry! What a well done job! Job satisfaction....


Meng Lei taking photographs of us...I was interviewing her about life in Ensurai......it was like chatting with a great relative while doing our washing....what good times we had in the past....

P/s soaking white clothes overnight in a pail of soapy water is called "pui" and just to soak in water is called "Jin". After taking a bath in the river one would rinse again in several pails of rain water at home in the chiak pan (open verandah) is called kuo jui or rinse....

13 comments:

Puan Isah said...

This is such a refreshing post :) it reminds me of when I was living in Sungai Liang, Seria with my grandparents in the 1960's...playing in the river while grandma washes our clothes.
Thanks for sharing :)

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Puan Isah
Thanks for writing.
The loving sharing and warm chatting during washing by riverside will forever be with us who had experience this....
Nice to know that you are a kindred spirit....Cheers.

Daniel Yiek said...

what mineral coloured the water red?

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Daniel
I heard it is the roots and decaying plant matter which colour the water red....any in Sarikei?

Bengbeng said...

that is wht the white shirts r never really pure white

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Bengbeng
After using river for washing clothes many of the hardworking mothers would rinse their clothes in the well kept rainwater...They used OMO or even the block soap...I still love the smell of old soaps..the clothes were very clean and white!

White clothes were often soaked over night carefully....laundry was such an art then...Today..everything dumped into a Japanese made machine....

Anonymous said...

Hi Cikgu

that's a nice article...and nice way of introducing Foochow verbs....but I cannot make the sounds correctly...I think I need to learn the throaty sounds from you first...

Kay

wenn said...

wow, this kind of washing still exists!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Kay
Nice to be washing clothes like these. Some of the terms I have not used for a long long time.

cheers.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Yes in many parts of the world and in Sarawak this kind of washing is still practised...not just in the movies.....

thanks for visiting.

Ann said...

When I used to visit my grand parents, esp mum's side in Durin, we travelled in the slow double storey motor launch. We often see the tiny creeks we called CHUNG in Cantonese, the water comes in different colours. Some brown we imagine to be coffee, when mixed with the Rejang river becomes milk/white coffee.

The Binatang people probably aren't as knowledgeable as your people. One of my colleagues in Kai Chung school used to complain about the white uniforms the students wear. They are brown rather than white. ( Come to think of it, may be they didn't wash their laundry in the river, may be they washed from a well. )

My Ah Kung's people washed in the Rejang river at Upper Lanang Road, the water was very clean. His Foochow neighbours towards the back washed and drank blackish river from a dug pond.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Ann
thanks for all these information...our forefathers had a hard time. Piped water only came in the 1950's and many of our riverine villagers had not safe water until now!!

Rain water is safe to a certain extent. I still remember the cholera epidemic in Sibu....we were petrified!!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

taken from Different Perspectives....
Gaharuman said...

Hello Sarawakiana,

The red coloration in "Ang Chiu Kau" common in peat swamp area such as Sibu is due to the presence of chemicals from the peat such as tannins. Tannins is present in tea and coffee and other drinks. Apart from the red colour, the red water also contains lots of organic acids. Oftne you can also find frothing due to humic acid (from humus).

Greenspot
April 8, 2010 8:48 PM