November 15, 2013

32 Inch Bicycle

In Sibu, the old men and ladies were good at cycling their tall 32 inch bicycle (see photo). In my memory, I feel that they truly made a lot of money out of their two wheeled vehicle. They used the bicycle as a mode of transport in every since of the word. They used the bicycle, to travel from one point to another and to carry their home-made goods like toufoo, their vegetables, and even their children.

(The 32 inch bicycle is slightly taller than the normal bicycle by several inches and its handlebars are different too. Raleigh and Flying Pigeon of China are two brands which make this Gentleman's Bicycle in the 1950's until recent years when more designs (like mountain bikes) are appreciated by the younger set. Yi Chang)

Sometimes we would catch sight of an old lady placing three or four of her grand children on her old bicycle. She would push the bike along and her grand children would scream with delight! How much love she had for her grand children. We often clucked clucked our tongue and said would these grand  children remember their grandmother with love?

I can still remember,as I am writing this, we would get up early in the morning in Brooke Drive, Sibu and try to hear the " Ngi Ngek Ngi Ngek Ngi Ngek" sound made by the Apek down the road when he cycled by and we knew then that it was time to get up and get going for the sun would rise higher and we would be late. His old rusty bicycle was our morning alarm clock. That was before the Honda motor bike's arrival on the shores of Sarawak.
Photo by Victor Chin. A Lady from Mantin, Hakka Village

File:BicyclesMilkChurnsKolkata gobeirne.jpg
Photo from Google. Old Indian men carrying milk in metal canisters on both sides of their 22 inch bicycles. Still a common scene in India.

Many of my Chinese school mates, the boys, especially would ride their grandfather's bicycles to school! And of course, they would look so old fashioned. None of the "modern" and fashionable girls would want to caught cycling with a boy who rode a 32 inch bicycle. A few of our friends decided that they would not "fall in love" with such fellow boy students. However, many of these boys became millionaires after they left school. Although some went into the jungle and were never heard again. We can still remember some of those Chinese school boys and their humble 32 inch bicycles. They were really nice boys and we did not mean to offend them really. We were just a bunch of giggling girls then.

Some boys were  too short but they could pedal with one foot and then with the other foot. They managed to cycle that way, and it was quite a sight!! And of course we were rude, we giggled and had fun. Poor boys.

Nonetheless, it was a well known fact that the girls would prefer boys to ride more fashionable looking bicycles like these owned by Leonardo Dicaprio and girl friend. I remember my school mate, Daulat Mamora, owning a bicycle like that. Most the Malay boys in the Kampongs had fancy bikes. Some even had sports bike, to the envy of other students. And definitely, many girls were stealing looks at them. And a few good girls would deliberately left off the air in their tyres and these nice guys would come running to help them. This was a good gimmick.

The Methodist School (Sibu) had a good administration. In the Dean's Office I remember, there was a bicycle pump. His office was always open, even during lunch time. So whenever some naughty boys let off air from the girls' bicycle tires, we could always get the school's pump.

Interestingly, the bicycle was not only for transport. Some of our naughtier friends used them for other purposes. One way of passing notes or messages to boys or girls in those long ago days was to slip a note in their bicycle bags. These notes were of course innocent and were not at all political or saucy notes. It could be "MYF Meeting on FRiday, as usual." "Lin Dai Movie is very good." "Mei Ling got a new hairstyle" It was much much like advertisers sticking flyers on our cars nowadays. It was fun and our principal could not intercept such secret messages. (sORRY I cannot find a photo of the bicycle bag of olden days)

In long ago days, Sibu youths could be seen cycling like this. Today, it is out of question perhaps because of the road dangers and modesty too.

Sometimes the police would come and catch boys who were naughty like this : We were not allowed to LUMBANG or correctly tumpang, a sibling. So when we saw a police man coming towards us, we would get down and pushed the bike instead, passing by him quickly, sheepishly, and red and hot in the collar. But of course he knew that we had broken the traffic law.

Movies made in China and other countries often show very poignant scenes involving cycling. It makes my heart so full of joy. But there is also a touch of sadness that youth is fleeting and has
 passed by.

An era has gone!!

To all my friends who rode bicycles in Sibu. Happy memories.


Anonymous said...

Rode the cyyle to school unti Form 6. But by the time i was in Form 6, motorcycles made its appearance among school children in my school alreeady. The richer ones could afford it and among the first to use them. When I was in uni, I just use bus and walking and later bought a motocycle. But these day, at the local uni I attended, students use cars now!!! Parent bought one for them.!

Ensurai said...

In those by gone days we walked or rode bicycles. Even motor bikes were a luxury...But our memories are good and precious to us. Thanks for commenting. God bless.

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