May 24, 2012

Kampong Hilir of Sibu

For those in their 50's and living in Sibu you can see the tremendous development in the Malay kampong area. This year Kampong Hilir is beginning to see lots of changes in terms of demolition of old wooden houses and the construction of shops.

After 50 years of Malaysia the b eloved kampong is moving away!!

Perhaps only memories and good old photos will be left those who can remember Kampong Hilir.

In a kampong there no fence between houses.

"Most houses are not locked when owners go shopping because there would be eyes every where " I was told this sometime by a friend from a kampong.
Kampong houses used to be single storey on stilts. With population explostion  rooms started to be built "below" the house and two storeyed buildings came into being...but later most families would build two storeys ahead of family enlargement. Many elders had already foreseen this phenomena...Good families tend to stay together and it is a "done" thing. I remember how hurt one parent was when her son decided to build his home about three miles away. She could not be comforted for years! I realise the true meaning of "Lamentations" by observing her. Others would just brush her emotions aside by saying "emotion lah" But it is really hard to finally cut off the imaginary umbilical cord!!
Kampong houses get so congested that little attachments like these are built and some just touch the roadsides....
During the fasting months beautiful lights would be placed on  home made ledges all the way (on both sides) to the house from the main road. It was a lovely sight.
I do remember those days when electricity first came to the kampong...and now people take public utilities (no longer public but privatized now) for granted. We used to pay $3.00 per month. A few cents more our parents would complain already!!

"Hilir" in Bahasa Malaysia means "lower river". It is the opposite of "Ulu" which means "upper". This kampong is "below" the Kampong Datu along the Lembangan River and the Igan River.

The Lembangan River actually goes around Sibu town which was originally an island. Hence there is the main road called Island Road. The road running from Chung Hua Primary school to the Sibu Recreation Club (Now Sanyan Building was called "Pulau Road" So in Sibu there were two roads with the same meaning but in two different langauges. Today this unusual road naming system has been corrected by changing all the road names to Bahasa Malaysia Blacksmith road is now Jalan Tukang Besi. I wonder if we still have Coffin Road behind the Palace Cinema. It should be Jalan Keranda. Personally I feel that a lot of the character of a road in Sibu has been changed because of the change in language. Jalan Pasar instead of Market Road? Jalan Tinggi instead of High Street?

High Street in English usually refers to the best road in town where the best shops can be found..and people would like to go there to be seen and noted...But then that probably KUNO people go to the lepak.

Any way it would  really be nice if I could go back in time and lepak (sit on the wooden railings) with my friends in Jalan Kampong Hilir...and drink lovely green Pisang flavoured aerated water or the Krim Soda made in Sibu....and watch cyclists go by...and as the sun sets watch the lovely ladies all dressed in white walking gracefully and  slowly  to the mosque


Ann said...

Some of the houses were quite big. I mentioned before my girlfriend Hasnah, the bro who married the Kim Guan Jiang? (sorry, forgot the name)

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Haji Zainuddin....yes some of them were like historical gems...should have been preserved...and made into mini museums

Anonymous said...

If those kampong houses are not being preserved and heritage listed,soon will be all gone for modernisations..........nothing to draw tourists to sibu ......even the long houses have been modernised with flushing toilets and the dish on the roofs.
preserve them for future generations.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Thank you for writing. I hope some one in the authority will consider you idea...The house belonging to the Tuanku bujang family was so beautiful and should have been preserved. But unfortunately now most people cannot even remember its architectural style. I wonder if people still have some old photos of the special building.

Indeed many people are still looking for the traditional longhouse!!

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