June 6, 2012

Nang Chong Stories : The Oldest Shop in the Village

The Chung Cheng Secondary School can be considered the most famous Foochow funded school from the 1930's onwards. And it became a sort of social icon since then for the Middle Rajang Area.
the jetty which served this school and the surrounding villages was called Ah Kieng's Jetty. (Named after Lau Heng Kieng a distant cousin of my maternal grandfather's). A little below the school was a good sundry village shop called Huo Sing owned by Lau Nai Kong whom most Foochows affectionately called Ah Kong Ba or Ah Kong Ga (Uncle Ah Kong). Uncle Lau Nai Kong's father was the older brother of Lau Heng Kieng.  His name was lau Heng Yi. My mother would call him Ah Yi Ga (or uncle Ah Yi). There was another older brother who had two daughters only. One of the pretty daughters married the famous butcher of Sibu called Ah Joh! Aunty Ah Siu was a well known beauty known all over the Rajang Basin. And being a rich butcher's wife also made her fame bigger...



Most Foochows who originate from Nang Chong would remember their ties with the "shop by the bridge" ( Huo Sing) owned by Ah Kung Ba/Ga (Uncle Ah Kung)

I have some photos which may help you to remember those long ago days.. ah Kung Ga's descendants have moved away and I heard some are in Miri!!

This is the famous wooden bridge which corsses the small river and two villages. People who used to work in Lee Hua Sawmill really appreciated the bridge. But most important of all the bridge was built so that chyildren from Lower and middle Nang Chong could go to Chung School.
this small tributary of the Rajang seems so small now to me. It looked very big when I was a barefoot girl visitng my grandmother about  40 minutes' walk from here through the rubber gardens. Today it is only minutes to my grandmother's abandoned property now. (My cousin did tell me that one day the family would do something about the land)
The sign board is still there. You can tell the age of the signboard from the black painted wordings on white background indicating the 1950's vintange or colonial British days.
this used to be a very happening place. The very famous Datuk Jimmy Lau would hang out at this place...and so had Datuk KK Lau who are both tycoons in Miri now.

Ah Kong Ga was a very humble and soft spoken man who helped many poor students who did not have money to buy his sweets. An uncle of mine used to pick a few ikan bilis for his lunch and he was sure Ah Kung Ga noticed it but kept a blind eye...In a way his shop prospered because it was at the end of a bridge and it supplied food and other items to Chung Cheng.

People were poor in the 1930's and 1940's and even right through the 1950's before the timber boom . Wealth depended on rubber and whatever little jobs they could get in the town on part time basis. A family could just survive by rearing a few pigs a year and farming out the "male pig" for breeding. Another family made tou hoo. While another collected logs from the river and chopped them up to sell as fire wood. One other family I know of was able to move to Sibu because the father was a skilful barber. Most Foochows then were subsistence farmers who grew their own vegetables and rice. Snails could be obtained from the river banks and fish caught in the river which was clean and clear. Occasionally a deer or a wild boar was shot in the days when Foochows were allowed to owned guns (before 1962). So many stories are waiting to be told!!



I felt "old" looking at the site again...but then life goes on. I am sure Ah Kong Ga's family are blessed wherever they are now!!

2 comments:

Ann said...

Lee Hua is so rich, yet the bridge is so ......., no wonder a friend opened his freedom mouth and got mistaken to be a ...... and hauled into eating curry rice.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hahahahaa....I have to be careful too..now that you have warned me...I don't eat curry if I can help it...poor stomach condition by this age...thanks for the warning...