March 22, 2011

Sights and Sounds on the Rajang..A thing of the past....

Growing up on an island at the confluence of the Igan and the Mighty Rajang I have the privilage of experiencing a fantastic childhood. The sights and sounds have remained in my mind often to be taken out for re examination and to savour with friends which in the past was just chatting in the school during the non studying class room hours. But today I have the privilege of sharing them in a blog for friends and relatives to read.

My Foochow ancestors left Fuzhou via Ma Wei by Hong Bee. (Photo from Foochow Association Gallery)

From Singapore they took a smaller boat(probably arranged by the Brooke Government and Wong Nai Siong) . This is a ship model which you can find in the Sibu World Foochow Cutlural Gallery in Upper Lanang Road. (Photo courtesy of Wong Meng Lei). 1118 Foochows came in three batches arrived in Sibu. Almost a 1/3 of them perished within five years due to diseases and exhaustion. It seemed that there was a plague sweeping through the Rajang Valley at that time.

The Rajah Brooke (Photo courtesy of Straits Steam Ship)

In those days the Rajang was deep and wide and amazingly fairly huge sea going boats could come in. The Ang Bee and the Rajah Brooke for example were big sea going boats to name a few.

Even before I was of school going age I would sit by the window of our Hua Hong Ice Factory house with my elders to watch the busy Sibu town nestled along the confluence of the Igan and Rajang. They woudl point out to me the name of the ships. And I remember this clearly..."listen to the sound of the horn...that is the Bruas leaving Sibu...the ship is talking to us...."Always use your eyes and ears and learn for goodness sake! Listen...carefully.

And so perhaps because I used to hang out with my grandmother and aunts and watched them and all the things around me I have a strong attention span and also a good memory for things historical.

And below because I cannot find the horn of Bruas to recap the souns of Sibu then...I have found an alternative for you....Enjoy the past I remember fondly my uncle who left in 1954 for China to go to his "promised university" . The horns blowing across the Rajang would tug the heart strings of my maternal grandmother because she never saw her youngest son again. While she died at age 84 he survived along a few years after that in China.

Several of my aunts also left by boat to study in Singapore and created a future for themselves during those hard and difficult days......I am sure many other people from Sibu also left by boat for a brighter future and heard the boat horns and they would too probably remember this sound in a nostalgic way.........Good bye my hometown it seems to say.....Till we meet again.

Youtube of QM2


sintaicharles said...

Very touching post.

Anonymous said...

The express boats also have suchhorns?

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Thanks Charles...Sometimes it is good to go back in time and savour our own history.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Anonymous...some express boats have similar horns.The riverine population could at one time identify which boat by their horns. I loved that.

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