September 13, 2012

Foreign Men and Women who had lived in Sibu : (l) 顾彼得, Peter Goullart

In the 1950's there was a Cooperative Society Consultant who used to sit in a corner coffee shop in Sibu.  He was Peter Goullart who helped start many cooperative society in Sarawak, including the one in Nang Chong and another one in 24 Acres. He was a welcomed visitor in Tulai too where people remember him as a man who spoke beautiful Chinese. They called him Bee Teck. The Tulai Cooperative Store (in fact a shop house) is still standing but not in use.

He captured his memoirs of his life in Sarawak in his well known book entitled " The River  of the White Lily: Life in Sarawak". He wrote about his visits to Bukit Lan which he called Hills of the Cassia Orchid (p.87).

River of the White Lily by Peter Goulart
Available in most bookshops.
ISBN: 983197587-1

Unknown to many:

He was born in Russia in the beginning of the 20th Century into a well-educated family, and spent his youth in Moscow and Paris. He was interested in the Orient from an early age. After Bolshevik Revolution he fled to China and eventually settled in Shanghai in 1924.
He spoke perfect Chinese and was often helping out other Europeans in their business trips. He also lived in Lijian for more than 8 years.
Goullart documented life and customs of inhabitants of this remote region, in particular, Nakhi People, in his first book, Forgotten Kingdom. (Sourced from: Wikipedia)

In 1949 he left China and stayed in Singapore where he wrote about his travels. He was recruited by the Sarawak Government to help develop the Cooperative Societies of Sarawak.

Today you can still many remnant shop houses which bear the signboards "Cooperative Society of Tulai" for example. Rural Chinese who are in their 70's and 80's from the Rajang would remember him as a man who worked hard and "liked to walk in the remote places". 

He died in Singapore on June 5, 1978.

His Books


Front Cover

Other Books
1. Report on the industrial cooperatives of Likiang, Yunnan, 1945.
2.  Princes of the Black Bone. Life on the Tibetan Borderlands, J. Murray, 1959.
3.  Land of the lamas: Adventures in secret Tibet, Dutton, 1959.

When I have the time it would be an adventure if my friends from Sibu could follow the trails he made and photograph some of the places he and his friend Poh Chuan had been too....



sintaicharles said...

A great man.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

If you read more about him and more about his books..he was indeed a most unusual writer...

sintaicharles said...

Hope his books are available in the library.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Charles..only the River of the White Lily...I have not found the others...may be I will buy from Amazon .com...

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