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...)