July 3, 2010

Central Road of Sibu

Central Road of Sibu will remain quite a central part of my life.

Flash back to the 1960's. My father used his brother-in-law's office for his mails and so for a long time our our mailing address was c/0 26 Central Road. My relatives from outside Sarawak and business associates would write to us using that address. And most of all I really liked to receive those letters with foreign stamps addressed to my father and I. And furthermore as most of my pen friends would use aerogrammes - a word not many people would recognise today I did not actually get many real foreign stamps and my collection was rather poor.

It was my duty to bring mail home from Uncle Lau's office usually in the afternoon while my father was working at Takang Quarry about 8 miles from Sibu.
Father would only be in town for special reasons and he would visit the office with me. Even after my father passed away we continued to use the address. When I was at university I wrote to my mum using that address. It was only later that we used our home address for mail. But by that time the post office was very near Central Road and our house. Uncle Lau bought P.O. Box 70. So for a long while he had the key to that post office box!! I suppose at that time it was very exciting to own a P.O. Box!!

Today the Ta Fong Aerated Water Factory is no more and the Nam Leong Shoe Shop has taken over.
Next to the then Ta Fong Aerated Water Factory were two important shops in my life : Chieng Muk Hin - where my mother and relatives liked to buy their materials (textiles) and wedding gifts (e.g. 12 lbs red blankets) and pillow cases and Hua Kwong General Store belonging to the Leong family. Both have been phased out by time and by business competition and trends.


The second floor or top floor of this shop (No.7?) was where my Third Aunt - the late Pearl Tiong brought up her family. We normally took the back staircase where there was an airwell. Here on the top floor with a nice verandah Cousin James Lau studied hard and went to Taiwan to study thus becoming one of the earliest Taiwan graduates in Sibu. And I remember how my cousin Roselyn and I sat in the living room chatting about Girl Guides and other girly topics. It was nice to sit on their very very antique and lovely sofa set (which must have been very expensive) and sharing confidences with a good cousin. The western concept of sofa chairs was pretty new to me as a little girl whereas my parents only had a set of rattan furniture and the ubiquitous marble table and the accompanying four Germany chairs. Even the ceiling fan was a novelty to us then.


This recent photo shows that the Masland Church can be seen very clearly from the Cental Road



I am so glad that this beautiful building which used to be SMC will become a museum for Sibu. The old Sibu library was here too and my siblings and I used to walk there every week to get our books to read. I remember one librarian by the name of Halalah who was a school mate of ours and she really took good care of the library.

Central Road of Sibu continues to be a thriving road with lots of coffee shops. The first floor are no longer residences but upper floors of bigger businesses. The Hock Hua Bank is still there with some newer enterprises. But many of the older enterprises like People's Maternity Clinic and Ta Hwa Bookshop have folded up a long time ago.

And as I complete writing this...I cannot help but remember the Beatles' "In My Life....." There are places I remember...

21 comments:

t.p.tong said...

Love this series of your,especially the mentioning of Nam Leong Shoe Shop and Chieng Muk Hin ,they are so close and so familiar !

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi...your parents' shop would be across at the roundabout...opposite the Standard Chartered Bank?

Cheers to all the children of the Sibu streets!!

Ah Ngao said...

Nam Leong shoe shop...sounds Cantonese,eh?
oh yes,i used aerogrammes before - the cheapest way for overseas,right? i remembered,i wrote with very small handwritings in order to just fill up the whole space..! ha-ha !

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ngao
I believe that the Nam Leong Towkay was a Cantonese man who wore glasses. Yes aerogrammes from Malaysia to any part of the world was only 30 cents....and the stamp was printed on them..

I typed to save space...hahahah

Uncle Lee said...

Hello Sarawakiana, its really admirable re that kompia lady bring up her kids selling cakes. Very heart warming.....and yes, I knew a lady once, sews clothes, sells what ever she can sell to bring up her kids, she a widow.
Today daughter is a doctor, son and engineer.

Reading your Sibu road, I must have passed this road many times, and did admire these beautiful shop house....and today learning the history from you.
I'm sure getting to know your country reading your very informative postings. Outstanding! Lee.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Uncle Lee
Yes the Kompia Lady is a fantastic lady. Very very hard working. At one time I thought she was like a torpedo - full speed ahead....
Sibu has an unusual history and every shop has a life and a history vis-a-vis its owner and family!!
Thanks for your compliments...

Ah Ngao said...

you types ?...oh you won , ha-ha !. i don't have any type writer back then(also really dirt poor)

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ngao...My father owned a business and in fact he had a good Corona Smith typewriter which we all typed with all the wrong fingers. Then in Form Two there was a Typewriting Club...and our Miss Fries taught us blind typing...it was fun and being able to type has equipped me well for my long working life.

Ann said...

SUDC building, it that central road? I am trying finger out.

There is a building in West Auckland that looks like the SUDC, there are other buildings here that look like the Kuching Govt buildings. I always wonder if the architect in Sarawak studied in New Zealand.

Ann said...

I am never good in typewriting, even now, I use two fingers and always make my typo mistakes. My dad bought a typewriter upon the recommendation of yiur Uncle Mr. Chong. It was a good typewriter, and we all had a go at it. I don't know if Elizabeth still has it.

Guess how I type? I look at the keys,

Any idea why soem tiems I get this? and th e? ( I am not making this up.)

Sarawakiana@2 said...

hahaha...Ann..you make me laugh...teh tupo is always fin.

When people text me now I always know what they mean for being a teacher you can read their writing very well...some times I do find delight in studtents mistakes....(deliberate ones here...check it out...)

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Ann
I thought I wrote a reply for this one...but it seemed not...Mr. Chong must have recommended your father to buy one from the Borneo Company...whi9ch was a good commercial agent for British made goods. Do you remember which shop sold refrigerators?

I know lots of people type very fast with two fingers!! I always have some extra numbers in my typing when I go very fast...like the above!! kekekek

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Ann..SMC is SUDC...but I can't remember when the name was changed. May be the architect studied in NZ...

I have seen similarities in many govt. buildings in Sarawak and in the UK.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

I don't remember when SUDC became SMC. the building is very pretty and I am glad the community leaders are keeping it as a museum....May be the architect studied in NZ!!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann
It could be from Borneo Company which sold many British made goods.
Yes I make lots of mistakes too...especially when the keyboard is not easily manipulated....too hard for my fingers...when years later athritis set in it will be more difficult...

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann
The comments seem to be chaotic and incoherent...I type and some sentences disappear and then they appear two days later!! hence all these comments before this one....stranger..strangest..curiouser and curioser.

Ann said...

CY,

There is something "wrong" with Blogger. Last week, a fellow blogger alerted to me she can't leave a message on my site.

Now it is getting worst. My comments on your site has been deleted.

If you are getting trouble , here is the site to go to, I think blogger is aware as there are many people informing them. I hope they get it solved.

http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/blogger/thread?tid=73704901e459202e&hl=en

And refer to DARKO (he or she is a blog problem solver and you can use the spreadsheet (another link from DARKO) to describe your troubles with comments.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi...I noticed your comment and left to reply in the evening etc...but then suddenly my comments were there but yours disappeared after a short while!

There must be a big worm around!!

freddie wong said...

Do you remember another aerated water factory in Sibu town by the name of "Chuon Liew" which I was told was started before Ta Fong.

Freddie Wong

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