February 4, 2014

Travelling to school by river boats (Reflections of a Julau Boy)

I have lifted what my friend Terence Temenggong Jayang has written on my facebook:

My classmates and I were in KSS during the 5 years 1964-1968.

 The Principal was a Catholic Priest the late FR James Heery, a Mill Hill Missionary
from UK who, I regarded as well meaning in his approaches to teach,
educate and discipline the longhouse boys and girls who studied in KSS
those years. His intention, obviously was to get us educated, become
successful professionals and do well in life. Most of the students he
taught become successful, and many are still active till today!

The long tedious river trips from my longhouse ( half an hr by boat
from Julau) in Julau to Kanowit in the early 1960's took one whole day.

Those five years in Kanowit Sec. School were among the most memorable for
those of us from Julau especially when we would get into the motor launch
such as," Hua Tong"  or "Kah Hong"early in the morning even as early as 3 am. from
Julau and then passed my longhouse at about 4 am. when we had to use a
torch light to get the motor launch to stop at the longhouse "Wharf" . It was an awesome feat for us because, to get to the launch we had to "walk" or jump on the many longboats moored to the jetty. They formed a floating "Wharf" . We had to do it very carefully otherwise one would slip and fall into the cool Kanowit river
that early in the morning.

 Once, my late father fell into the water
while ensuring that I got into the launch ok. Poor man. But that was our life
and time then!

Patrick Embol must have used the trip many time, too. And so did all the
other Julau boys who studied in KSS then.

Among the stopovers were the various longhouses along the banks of the
Kanowit River, all the way to the Kanowit, whenever there were all kinds
of passengers ( young, old, ladies and men) especially going to Kanowit
to sell their products or settle their official governmental matters.

Machan is a must stop point where all passengers would have their "mee
rangkai" -- mee kering , tea or kopi. Within an hour the Juragan- Driver
would horn the trumpet and all rushed back into the launch and the trip continued.

Once, the motor launch was stuck at Ng. Lesih, quite near to Kanowit and connected by good road, as the tide had receded. It took some 3 hours
later before the tide came back and the motor lauch floated again and
left for Kanowit. Normally it reached Kanowit by about 3-4 pm. That day we reached Kanowit after sundown.

Now 50 years down the road, my longhouse can be reached by road, although,
not that good but a motorable one. It takes half an hour to get to
Kanowit, some 45 minutes to Sibu. Overall admirable transport connection
with fairly acceptable facilities!

We are connected with gadgets to enable the usage of HPs especially
Celcom, Thanks yo YB Datuk Salang!


sintaicharles said...

Thanks for the sharing.
Traveling to school on boats reflects old timers' tenacious spirit.

Ensurai said...

Yes indeed. Can you imagine what it was like before such boats came into being? People had to walk,,and there was no school too. Many have to thank the Colombo Plan and Chinese motor launches for their achievements.

Anonymous said...

I didnt know that KSS was runned by the Mill Hills like Sacred Heart, St Anthony in Sarikei. Understand that Bintulu Secondary Shcool as well as Serian Secondary School were run by Mill Hills Fathers as well.

Perhaps, after independence (19630, Missipnary were not allowed to establish Catholic Schools and therefore only KSS, Bintulu SS, Sriasn SS, etc.

Ensurai said...

Before 1963, an able Christian /Catholic Brother, at the recommendation of the State Secretary and/or the Head of Education Department could become head of secondary schools. Rev Keith Wiltshire for example was Principal of Methodist School in 1962 -63. He was again engaged by the Methodist School Sibu for a longer period later. the Government schools like KSS, Bintulu, and even Tanjong Lobang (former priest Robert Nicoll) all were blessed with RC priests as heads.

Anonymous said...

Why were they not serving in Catholic schools or even set up Catholic Schools then//? Is that because after independence they were not allowed to do so?

Ensurai said...

The priests were just available in those days and they were "contracted" to the government. Later, like the reverends of the Methodist Church and others, these priests were no longer allowed to serve in government aided schools. I think some local community leaders were also forced to sign some papers to reject them.

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