March 20, 2012

A Canvas Bed Found in Bintulu

I continue to a vivid memory of a canvas bed in my paternal grandfather's house. This image is still very fresh in my head. The canvas bed was found in the "Ow Kien" or a little room behind the the living room. It was for him to have his nap in the afternoons. And for about two hours I could not run freely on the wooden floors upstairs.We kids had to be absolutely quiet and still while our 80+ grandfather was taking a nap. He must have loved his canvas bed as much as I have loved memories of canvas beds.

Part of my growing up years in Sibu was associated with kind shop assistants and hardworking itinerant workers. Shop assistnats helped my uncles and aunts in their shops and itinerant workers came and went in the villages of Nang Chong and Ensurai. Besides earning wages of $30 or $60 per month they were given three meals a day and a simple sleeping place...which could be just a table in a glass cutting shop (Chieng Lee Kui) or a wooden bed made up of four planks and two benches which could be dismanted and put away in the day time (Hua Hong Ice Factory). A mattress for an employee was unheard of. And no shops actually sold mattresses in the 50's and 60's. Mattresses were actually imported(specially ordered) from Singapore as Bridal Gifts. Most home made mattresses were filled with Kapok or even coconut fibres.

For a long time (1950 -1960) I remember I slept on plain planks of wooden beds...and sometimes a very thin kapok mattress. My mother's bed was special because hers was a soft rattan bed which was very airy and comfortable - an antique which cannot be bought nowadays.

My Aunt Hung Yee had a special spring four poster brass bed which had a western mattress. But then that was a bed found in Kuching!!

As a child I was given one whenever I went to visit my grandfather in Sungei Merah and I really loved sleeping on it.

My classmate Sebastian Gaong said that he slept in one for a long time when he was a boarder. Other native students had such a bed for the first time in their lives when they came to the town to further their studies.

The last time I slept on a canvas bed was in the Lau King Howe hospital. It was because there were too many mothers being admitted. I was lucky I was not placed in the verandah!! After resting on the canvas bed for more than 5 hours and suffering from intermittent labour pains...I was wheeled into the labour room and my precious little boy was born at 7.02 p.m. on that special Friday evening!!

Today some hospitals still give canvas beds to their extra patients. It is really a very special and functional emergency bed. The army continues to use canvas beds when it is on the move. What a wonderful invention!!

A very simple foldable canvas bed...you just need a pillow and a thin blanket to have a good night's sleep.
folded up and the room is a good working room or office or TV room.
Another view of the lovely canvas bed

With my experiences of sleeping on a canvas bed as a child and as mother in labour in the Lau King Howe Hospital .....I think I would love to lie down in one any time again....It is just the right kind of bed for the tropical climate...and it is really so convenient!!

Have you ever thought of sleeping in one?

And of course not many women would like to give birth on a canvas bed in full view of 26 other expectant mothers and visitors...I almost did!! Luckily the labour room was available to welcome my baby in 1987.

(Thanks to the management of the Central Inn in Bintulu for letting me photograph this nostalgic - pung buoh chong - canvas  bed. I have been searching for one for sometime. What a coincidence!! An Indian night watch men in olden days would sleep in a jute bed or a canvas bed...)

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is the giringian chong. I know the word is offensive, but it was known as such during early days.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Nope...Anonymous..this is not the kiringian chong. It is the pung more chong...check my posting on kiringian chong..I will give you the reference when I find it....hahahah you make me laugh..Thanks for the laughter. It will be with me today..I love the spelling kiringian...hahahahahaha Who says foochows cannot say the R sound....great!!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

The kiringian chong...(Foochow term for Indian Jute Bed).

http://sarawakiana.blogspot.com/2008/06/jute-bed-in-sibu.html

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I don't know why our family and the friends used to call this giringian chong. That was how I learned and remembered the term.

wenn said...

haha..used to see that..

Yan said...

Nearly forgotten about "Poon Bu Chong"! Thanks for sharing.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Anonymous...may be in your family this has been called giringian chong...Like nga lak bui (glass) is often used by many people. My family would just call boleh bui....so we will never know why...thanks for sharing.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Wenn...is this kind of bed very common in the old days in Chinese shops and homes in WM?

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Yan...I have this deep deep concern for the canvas bed...and its significance in my life especially in 1987!!!

Poon Buoh chong...How many young people have slept in one and became multi millionaires in the end!!

Anonymous said...

indeed its being referred as giringian chong ...cos the night watchman for the chinese banks were mostly indians ..so they do rest and sleep in it while on duty outside the premises....Standard Chartered had night watchman on daily basis.I hve slept in one as well in Long Bridge......loved it

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Oh I see...Yes I remember the Sikh nightwatchmen and Jaga at the Standard Chartered Bank in Sibu...Thanks for sharing my love for canvas bed...

Association of Canvas Bed Fans!!!

Anonymous said...

yeah...,i ever slept on one - cooling ! we used this folding canvas bed during our night shifts. once one of my female co-worker(big as a water buffalo) unintentionally split the canvas bed,i repaired it.the split was on or almost near the side. so i carefully took out the side rotan(halved),cut off the split part and nailed back the side halved rotan. the bed became smaller !...hahaha !

- Ah Ngao

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ngao
Long time no see!! (Of course I wish I can see your face)....that's a side splitting tale..do you still see your big as water buffalo co-worker....? She might not be amused by your description (if I may say so)...you are naughty but such a good handy man - must be a boon to your wife and she the envy of all the neighbours!!

Anonymous said...

In rural klinik, canvas was use as a stretcher as there was no sophisticated portable troley.

Jay

Ann said...

The Fan Bu bed, we never have one, but I have seen one.

I have a Chan Clam family in Tanjong Pagar in Singapore. They took in a lot of Malaysia girls to learn hairdressing, at night, they all lined this FAN bU BED IN THE SHOP. I stayed with them once, and I too, was a apprentice girl.

Anonymous said...

hi... yes ,i think i am quite a handy man.i does some handy man jobs during my off days,earning some "peanuts" to make ends meet. my wife called me McGyver(im really proud of this title,yeah...really. rather be knighted by Queen Elizabeth - Sir Ah Ngao ?? kekeke

Anonymous said...

yep,any lady or women never enjoyed being called fat or biggie. she got transfered. hearsay she downgraded herself to 737 . shes a very nice person indeed(she just like to eat a lot)

Daniel Yiek said...

Wow. I wonder whether this is still sold in Sarawak.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Jay...yes indeed..I saw many rural clinics continue to use canvas (now rubberised green ones) stretcher (Red Crescent has many for training)...thanks.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Yes Ann This kind of Canvas beds are common place in Singapore and KL where shop girls and students were placed elbow to elbow to help them save space...bunks later appeared but they cost more..Well trends change over the years depending on the social attitude of the rich.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

So Sir Ah Ngao....that's a great Knight from Kuching lo....cheers.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ai yo Ah Ngao..I like to eat too...I am as large as a water buffalo too...that's why I dare not plonk into the canvas bed in Bintulu(even though I would love to) in case I got myself caught in the middle and it may take three men to pull me out...Now you can laugh at me...

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Daniel...can make to order..from some of the older carpenters it seems...I would like one too...

Jay JC She said...

Chang Yi,

My childhood classm8 & proprietor was amazed & very pleased to see his canvas bed 'on the Net'. I don't know why the Teochews would call this kind of canvas bed 'the cloth chair'. It was very popular during our younger days; almost every household had at least one. I guess because it's very practical, convenient & affordable.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi JC
It must have been hilarious when you showed him his canvas bed!! In fact I was pretty touched when I saw it and I really had to photograph and write about it. I only wish my grandmother could see it on the net as well. She too would be amazed.

We foochows found the Pang Boh Chirng very practical and economical ..but most importantly...very portable...It could even be placed in the middle of a motor launch!!

Anonymous said...

Hi, i am from singapore, my uncle is looking for one of this bed. Can anyone help me where can i get 1 for him in singapore. Thanks.

rgds
BLay

Anonymous said...

Hi I have been looking for this canvas bed and very much wanted to buy one searching around where can I get it for us west Msia Shah Alam

valerie chen said...

Any idea if singapore sell this ?

Pamela Wong said...

Used to sleep on one very low canvas bed. Wonder if anyone sells them in Singapore. If there is, let me know.

Anonymous said...

HI, I am looking for one of this too, any idea, where I can get them, especially with this present killing weather, help help, phil seet email me: phil.seet@yahoo.com.sg

Yasmin said...

We had one when growing up in Penang. In Hokkien, it's called a poh ee, or cloth chair. I'm looking for one in KK now. Anyone knows where I can find it? thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi, anyone know where can I get one in Singapore? Please email : baverlyl@yahoo.com