June 30, 2014

1957 Sibu Lau Clan Geneaology Book * Zuk Puoh - Photos Only

A genealogy book published in Sibu by the Lau Clan is a treasured property of any Lau family.

She was unconsoleable when she learned that my young brother Hsiung had passed away in 1981. She only knew about it in 1983 as we had kept the pre mature demise from her for two years. It was so sad to listen to her "Foochow wailing" (chiun kuoh) or the singing of funeral verses.Many people also said that she had cried so much that she became blind as she had lost her husband, her youngest son, three sons-in-law and a favourite daughter and then a grandson (my brother). In her wailing she mentioned all their names and memories of them.

The Laus of Sibu have been very meticulous in recording every family in Sarawak with this publication which sees updated editions from time to time. Generous sponsors are greatly appreciated by the Clan Association.

Each publication is an improvement over the years. But this one published in the 1950's is truly one of the best.

Congratulations to the 1950's Committee it is now considered a historical document for researchers to study and for families to keep for their future generations.


June 29, 2014

Paku Jari Merah - Filicales

I read that this is a  rare fern found in Sarawak. So I hope some of you may be able to enlighten me about it.

I would be interested in looking for it in Sarawak and photographing it.


June 28, 2014

Sungei Teku : Its Small Beginning

When Dr. Brewster, in Putien, heard about Wong Nai Siong bringing a group of Foochow agriculturists to Sibu, he was inspired to bring his Heng Hua brethrens to follow this plan. He travelled to Sarawak to make a petition to the White Rajah with the help from Rev James Hoover. Soon,he brought the Heng Hua people to Sibu to join the Foochow settlers in 1912, which was 11 years after the first batch of Foochows arrived . The new immigrants were allocated land north of the Sungei Merah which extended up to Sg. Teku.

Here is a recent photo of the beautiful Sg. Teku which I took on a memorable trip to the area where many of my school mates grew up.
One of the loveliest "apparitions" I managed to capture a few years ago in Sg. Teku. These are weeds floating down the Teku River. On dry days the river is almost gone.

Rev Ling Kai Cheng
The Heng Hua Migration story was captured in a book written by Wong Meng Lei to coincide with the Heng Hua's  Centenary Celebration in Sibu. What a fantastic migration story!!   A small group of 100+ Heng Hua people started their farm land and prospered in the last 100 years in an almost uninhabitable land, in a small dot in Borneo island.

One man was truly the catalyst to fire the enthusiasm of the Heng Huas. AHeng Hua himself and a Methodist, he was none other than Rev Ling kai Cheng. He noted that a small church was already built on top of a hill. Going up the hill was tough for the people every Sunday and Rev Cheng who was asked to help with the Church service every Sunday asked the people why they should build the church on top of the hill. The Heng Hua farmers said that was the only piece of land available.

So Rev. Cheng asked if they would like to have a piece of land he could donate  if they on their part, help build the road and build the church and school They happily agreed. This was the beginning of the Teku Methodist Church and the Methodist Kian Hin Primary School. Rev Ling donated a piece of land which was 6 acre big and that formed the foundation of the Kian Hing School and The Methodist Church of Sg. Teku.

Below is the 21 st Century version of the Methodist church property, part of the land donated by the kind and generous Rev Ling Kai Cheng.

Sg. Teku today is a far cry from the sparsely populated farm land of the early 20th century.

A small satelite town of Sg. Teku today. In the 1960's there were only two shops and one bus stop, a Methodist Church Clinic, one Methodist Church and a primary school. The Parsonage was a centre for many activities!!

This should help you think of those difficult days.....

1910-1920 - Rev Ling Kai Cheng cycled to Sg. Teku to preach

1930 - 1940 - Most people walked

1950 - One bus only

1960 -  A few buses , a few taxis and some cars
Many students cycled to school in Sibu.

1970 = motor bikes, taxis, cars and lorries

N/B When I started teaching in the Methodist Secondary School in 1976, Rev Ling continued to cycle to the school to meet up with the Principal, and for other occasions. He was a man who had a great heart for the development of the Methodist School, which in fact owed him for the significant moment too, for deciding to acquire that piece of property for future Methodist Church work.

Rev Ling was always the gentle, grand old man who rode his bicycle slowly, from the town to his home at Hose Lane, some times dropping by at the school.

Later on many students were humbled when they realised that he was a millionaire who rode  an old bicycle.

Many years later a daughter of Tuai Rumah Ranggong told me what her father  used to say to her, "True Love and true wealth cannot be hidden...." And indeed in his life, Rev Ling who knew many Ibans in Kapit,  Sibu,  Teku showed his love for the indigenous Christians by proposing churches for the Ibans in Kapit, Tutus etc. His wealth was indicated by the number of churches he helped to conceptualize and built.

We indeed saw his love for people and the true wealth, not only in terms of money, was also obvious to people who knew him. He was a man who respected people of all races and religions.

He was truly a man who was brought by the grace of God to Sibu.

June 25, 2014

Bario Homestay

All these photos are copied from the Internet to help my friends from Sibu know more about Bario. In another posting I will be able to give a more personal introduction to Bario. For the moment, this posting is for your info only  ahead of your Bario trip in the near future. I will be able to supply more telephone contacts too.

Besides, one of the places you must visit and write about is the Bario Radio Station. So stay tuned....
A very happy Bario Visitor, Miss Audrey Lui, who stayed with Nancy and Harris...
Good place to visit Pa Lungan
A pretty homestay in Bario...
A nice map.Joanna owns the homestay near the Bario Airport. Two very happy Inner Wheelers who have enjoyed staying with her.

June 22, 2014

Pa Adang : A slice of paradise

 Having be to some severely polluted places like Guilin, China, Fujian, China and other parts of Indonesia and Malaysia, I often think of one particular place where I spent 10 days, cutting hair, finger nails, washing hair, cleaning cooking pots, cooking, and teaching simple English.
Pa Adang is decisively a Penan settlement carved out of a small valley of the River Adang .

Here the government had set up a fishery research centre about 50 years ago but has been sort of abandoned. About 15 years ago, a scheme was to settle some Penans who have been nomadic in this region for hundreds of years. It was successful and around 1997 the Penans harvested their first rice from a fairly large (small may be to some people) area. This small beginning led to a change in their mind set.

A kindergarten was mooted and a timber company provided all the materials for the Methodist Church, which has long been famous for establishing kindergartens, to start a one room school.

Wonderful photo of the skies above Pa Adang...I will lift up my face unto the hills from whence my help will come..(Photo by Audrey Lui)

A photo by Audrey Lui, mission volunteers crossing the Adang...with some Penan students
Today several volunteer teachers and some pastors are in charge of the educational development of the valley.

Believe it or not, my left knee, which was suffering from thinning of cartilage, was healed because I walked into the cold water of Adang, and a miracle happened. I can testify to that moment of joy.

The Adang Village, photo by Audrey Lui.

In days to come, some of my first kindergarten students will be able to write about their school experience and they may even read in English, the inspiring book, "How Green was My Valley" by Richard Llwellyn. This is a place where you too can be inspired to WRITE.

source : wikipedia

 I will not forget the early  morning I left Adang when I met the Penan hunter carrying probably a 40 kg bear. He himself was barely 60 kg. My thoughts were : he could be an Olympic representative for light weight lifting..

He asked me to stay a while longer so that he could give me some of the meat. I declined politely.

I asked him "Susah cari binatang?"

He replied, " Tidak, satu shot sahaja."  The Penans are very good marksmen. There went my thoughts again...He could be in the rifle team of Malaysian Olympics.

Leaving them was like leaving a whole loving family behind. They embraced all of us like brothers and sisters.

Will I go back to Pa Adang again for a visit?

June 21, 2014


The latest Foochow Event is in Sri Aman in the last few days. Thousands of Foochows came for the Foochow Association Anniversary. The guests were given FREE meals in certain shops in Sri Aman. That was a real treat from the Simanggang Foochow Association. Well Done SFA!!

My friend Law Vun Ngee has shared many photos on his fb and with some photos I could write a post on Simanggang or Sri Aman for you.

My mother's cousin, a daughter of Headman lau Kah Tii, Lau Hung Ing married Tang Yew Tung at a tender age because the two saw each other before they were match made. Teacher Tang was engaged as a teacher for the new settlement of Ensurai by Grand Uncle Lau Kah Tii.

A very loving relationship was formed which turned into a very good marriage. Although Teacher Tang was very poor and also sickly, he was a good man. Together they had 7 sons and 2 daughters. Having 9 children was fairly normal in those days. although my grand uncle was extremely wealthy, my aunt never received a single cent as a daughter after she got married. Her dowry which she brought to her husband was a decent 10 acres of rubber garden in Tui Hoo, next to Hiong Ga (or Fragrant Uncle), which in those days, was very grand indeed. Even by today's standards, 10 acres of land is a gargantuan dowry. This helped the couple to raise their children until they were adults and able to earn a living.

Two of my aunt's sons went to Simanggang in the 1950's.
Tang Chok Ching, the eldest moved to Simanggang to do business and Chok Lik became a Headmaster in the same town in the 50's. From that time onwards my aunt was in better financial position. Two other sons, Chok Tiing and Chok Ming went to teach in Miri and stayed on.

The Foochows traditionally distributed their landed property to their sons (and their eldest grandson) only if they died without leaving a will. They would never leave any property to their daughters or children of their daughters.

Only some in the olden days left some property to their daughters.

My mum has a great sense of justice and she has always been rather vocal about property rights of children. She felt extremely sad when her cousins and her siblings and herself were not able to inherit property from their parents. If she had lived in China she would have carried a red flag and cried "Down with chauvinism!!"

I am glad that she has brought us up to believe that we girls are equal to boys and that we too should inherit properties belonging to our parents.

Hoover Hotel. Photo by Borneo Tip

Taiwan / Alishan HotelNo. 123 Council Road,95000 Sri AmanTel : 083-322497Fax : 083-321167

My late cousin Tang Chok Ching owned the Alisan Hotel in Sri Aman for many years until he passed away.Today the Alisan Hotel is also called Taiwan Hotel.

My Aunt Lau Hung Ing lived to a very riped old age, surrounded by loving children and grand children. I remember her as a loving, gentle,soft spoken, Christian Foochow lady, who never allow her Bible to be out of sight in her bed room. She had a grateful heart!!

Today many of her children and grand children continue to serve God in many different ways, in Miri, Sibu ,Simanggang , Kuching, and Singapore.

This is the small link between Simanggang and the Second Foochow Headman, Lau Kah Tii.

June 20, 2014

Nang Chong Stories : A Foochow Wedding Send Off

( The Wedding of my eldest cousin Lau Kiing Huong and Tie Chee Hua )

In the olden days, wedding feasts were held in our own homes if we were simple village folks. Only town people who have wedding banquets in Sibu restaurants. Grand ones were held in the Foochow Association Hall in Central Road.

Food was home catered, with lots of relatives coming to cook and serve. These helpers were called Buong Chiew (or Helping Hands - a very nice term actually). When my cousin Huong married Tie Chee Hua, a big party was planned. She was the eldest of the eldest son. Indeed the whole village was invited and close relatives also came from far away, like Kuching and Sibu.

She was unconsoleable when she learned that my young brother Hsiung had passed away in 1981. She only knew about it in 1983 as we had kept the pre mature demise from her for two years. It was so sad to listen to her "Foochow wailing" (chiun kuoh) or the singing of funeral verses.Many people also said that she had cried so much that she became blind as she had lost her husband, her youngest son, three sons-in-law and a favourite daughter and then a grandson (my brother). In her wailing she mentioned all their names and memories of them.
So many home raised pigs were slaughtered by the river side and hundreds of eggs were boiled. I remember very well how we younger cousins peeled the hard boiled eggs for one of our special bridal feast dishes : Taiping Egg Soup. We did that in the evening, by the river, when it was cool and breezy.  Chickens were also slaughtered for the deep fried crispy chicken dish. (The Banquet Menu will be in another post so watch out!!)

My grandmother's house in Nang Chong was big enough for more than 15 tables (150 pax), on the first floor and the ground level. Tables were borrowed from other villagers and they were folded and carried on shoulders by cyclists.  Chairs and benches were also borrowed and carried in the same way. There was no trolley, no trishaw, just bicycles. Honda Motor bikes had not arrived yet. Seeing young people riding a bicycle and carrying a table top skilfully like a circus act was very exciting. What a lovely sight!!

A motor launch was hired by the Tie family (bride groom's family) for the big occasion, and other motor launches also arranged to arrive at the right time for this special occasion. I think the boat owners also prepared themselves to fetch the invited guests after two or three oclock, a little kindred kind of gesture. Boats normally only made one journey up the river to Sibu and one journey down the river to berth for the night.

The Foochows did not have the luxury of owning their own long boats like the Malays and the Ibans.

We depended on "public river transport".

The photo above actually indicates the Foochow Custom of sending off a daughter on her wedding day. The sedan chair, the motor launch, the trishaw, or whatever vehicle was used to carry the bride and the groom away must do a ritual called "Three Forwards and three backwards". In Foochow it is "San Jin San Turg" But the Kutien would say "San Jin See Hui Tau". I will need to verify this again.

The motor launch on this occasion had to move forward once and then backward once. This ritual was repeated two more times.

The ritual is a must to say that the daughter is reluctant to leave her family for her future family. And it is also to provide an opportunity for the bride's family to "retain" the family's fortune. A piece of red cloth, One and One Quarter Meter (I may be wrong) would be placed at the bow of the boat and a male sibling,usually the eldest, would pull this red cloth away as the boat pushed forward and away one final time. This is called "Retaining of the Fortunes in the family" or "Bek ye lick".

Many close relatives, especially uncles, will be performing the ritual and overseeing that everything was proper. Hence you see my Third Uncle on the jetty or "peng tieu", while my Second Uncle and probably (not in the picture) my other cousins and Uncle Pang Ping and Aunty Sia on the pontoon (doh tau) sending off the bridal party.

I remember all the good food that day, especially the Peaches and Longans, and of course all the Pop chui or aerated water.

The Wedding Date was 29th November 1958.

June 19, 2014

There is indeed a school called S.K. Airport, Belaga

There is indeed a school called S.K. Airport in Belaga

Here you are...a site map to show where you can find the school in Belaga.


Belian bridge to the school staff quarters of SK Airport( Photo by http://faizaleda.blogspot.com)

June 18, 2014

Nang Chong Stories : Chung Cheng Secondary School, Middle Nang Chong

 The Chung Cheng Secondary School, situated on the West Bank of the Rajang, is one of the schools established by the Pioneering Foochows of Sibu. Founded by Lau Kah Hii, known as the Second Kang Chu of the Foochows in 1916. The first Kang Chu was Wong nai Siong who was in Sibu from 1901 to 1903.

When the Pioneering Foochows first came to Sibu they were farmers mainly who were seeking their fortunes in a new albeit challenging and swampy area. The soils of the Rajang Delta were not similar to the rich alluvial soils of the Min River, Fujian. Furthermore, the equatorial swamp forests welcomed the pioneers with mosquitoes, flies, snailes and all sorts of incredible creepy crawlies, pests and insects, not to mention poisonous snakes and deadly scorpions.

Within ten years however the "Foochow Settlement" was growing rapidly, crops were happily harvested and rubber had already inroads. This was due to the presence of Rev James Hoover who had the foresight of introducing rubber (he had contacts and associates in the then Malaya where his relatives were already growing rubber). The Foochows of Sibu, like their counterparts in Sitiawan took to the new cash crop rubber like it was gold.

The forerunner of Chung Cheng Secondary school was first called Kwong Nang Primary School and its first headmaster was Rev Yao Siaw King, the father of Dato Yao Ping Hua. In 1934 the school started its secondary school.

It was closed for a short period during the Japanese Occupation.

In 1946, Lau Kah Tii who had led a study group to China, came home to Sibu with General Chiang Kai Shek's blessing to change the name from Kwang nang Secondary School to Chung Cheng . Chung Cheng was the other name of General Chiang Kah Shek.

Historically speaking, Lau Kah Tii and his fellow compatriots had raised a large sum of money for the China War Relief fund 1939-1942. This fund raising campaign was supported by all the patriotic Foochows and other Chinese dialect groups in Sibu to support the Chinese war against the Japanese and to rally to the Rajah's call for finanacial help for the British.

In those days the Chinese were still patriotic to China, calling her their homeland . My grandmother mentioned about going "home to Tong Sang" from time to time. So did all the other pioneers. At that time they did not realise that they had planted their seeds which would grow roots and bear fruits for more than two generations with many more to come.

the Chinese were also loyal to the Rajah. Funds remitted to London and to China were all documented in the Sarawak Gazette in fairly good details.

Look at some photos below taken by Philip Hii very recently. The black and white effect is striking. They remind us of the 60's when most photos were black and white!

"The name Chung Cheng also means very bi partisan, ethical, correct and upright.

The school after the war, continued to be run by very good Foochow scholars like Lau Hieng Ying and Lau Kieng Sing etc.

It was a well known fact that the teachers of the school very dedicated and self sacrificing even though they were paid very low salaries. At the beginning of the history of the school, many of the teachers received only 30 dollars per month.

Students who graduated from the school became peace loving and useful citizens who served Sarawak well. One of the best Chung Cheng School graduates is none other than Dr. Tie King Tai, the Principal of the Methodist Theological College,Sibu. Another famous graduate of the school is Datuk Lau Hieng Ding, a Senator and Minister in the Federal Government of Malaysia. Lau Tze Cheng, a brilliant historian was also a product of the school.  The list is too long to appear here. But it can be said there is a multitude of  brilliant graduates and successful people from the school from 1916 to the present days. In 2016 it would be celebrating its 100th anniversary.

The school before it became a fully government aided school depended on its School Board of Directors who were generous and dedicated to the development of the school Even after it became a fully government aided school in 19 56, the Board of Directors continues to play a very important role. A very interesting part of the Chung Cheng school history was its role as an English Medium school in a rural setting. the oral stories as told by the Nang Chong people may long be forgotten but some are still treasured. Chung Cheng School, like many of the other Chinese schools in Sarawak, saw its fortunes changing with language policy changes in the country, from Chinese, to English and then to Bahasa Malaysia. Social cultural impact of the changes in the medium of instruction and other political changes call for lengthy discourse and this blog is too small for a lengthy discussion.

An important remains to be discussed is the fact that in 1946 the Chung Cheng school hostel was completed and ready for students from all around the Rejang Basin. This enabled many girls especially to be educated up to Senior Middle Three. The school created a large pool of capable Foochow women who penetrated the commercial and industrial sector of Sarawak. In fact this hostel can be considered a sister hostel to the Yuk Ing Girls' School hostel. the Yuk Ing Girls' School in Sibu became the Methodist Secondary School in 1949.

the chung Cheng School was an iconic school in a rural setting from 1916 but due to political, socio-economic changes, the school was reduced to a small stature. But memories continue to be magnificent in the minds of those who have been impacted by its influence.

Source : Lau Tze Cheng,"My Seven Years as a teacher in Chung Cheng School",p.262-286 from Lau Kah Tii, A Commemorative Album. Private Publication.
She was unconsoleable when she learned that my young brother Hsiung had passed away in 1981. She only knew about it in 1983 as we had kept the pre mature demise from her for two years. It was so sad to listen to her "Foochow wailing" (chiun kuoh) or the singing of funeral verses.Many people also said that she had cried so much that she became blind as she had lost her husband, her youngest son, three sons-in-law and a favourite daughter and then a grandson (my brother). In her wailing she mentioned all their names and memories of them.

(updated and re-posted from Sarawakiana)

June 16, 2014

Map of Bario

Going to Bario? Here's a map to help you. I will put in some latest handphone numbers later..Enjoy!!
I live in Miri and every morning I can hear the local planes taking off. They sound different from the Boeings. These Twin Otters are special . some how their engines sound fantastic and homely too at the same time. The sound seems to tell me that all is well.

June 15, 2014

Guilin : The Painted Veil

Two films made Guilin famous throughout the world. The first is the 1960's production of Liu San Jie, or Third Sister Liu and the other,perhaps the lesser known,  The Painted Veil, based on a novel by Somerset Maugham.

Both used the karst landscape of  Guilin as background and helped promote Guilin as a tourist attraction and especially since the opening of China to outsiders in the 1980's.

On a recent visit to Guilin I found that the karst landscape truly has so much to offer especially to photographers and writers. No wonder S.Maugham loved the place. Probably he had enjoyed being carried by sedan chairs in those days. The Zhuang people here speak a special dialect . Today most of them speak Mandarin and even  English.

is a 2006 American drama film directed by John Curran. The screenplay by Ron Nyswaner is based on the 1925 novel of the same title by W. Somerset Maugham. Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Toby Jones, Anthony Wong Chau Sang and Liev Schreiber appear in the leading roles. (wikipedia)

The novelist, W.Somerset Maugham, visited Sarawak in the 20's and wrote several short stories based on his experiences, including The Bore, The Yellow Streak.

The Painted Veil, one of his very celebrated novels, depicted a spoilt socialite who need to find real self in the 1920's England and Hong Kong. Amidst colonial politics, cholera outbreaks, extra marital affairs, Kitty, the protagonist, finally found herself . The saddest part was the discovery of her self worth came just days before her realisation that her husband was a good man, worthy of her love, and respect.

Kitty spent the rest of her life dedicating her life to helping her father, serving mankind and bringing up her son.

The setting was in Guilin, amidst karst landscape. Maugham must have chosen this landscape to represent the many sharp edges and turnings in our lives which also depicts great beauty. Life is made up of so many different facets as Kitty had found out. She had to learn how to get rid of the insignificant and embraced the reality of true happiness and real worth in life.

Sibu Tales : Making Bah Gui from Scratch

The pioneering families of Sibu Foochows continued to practise the  adoption of girls from poor families who become their maids (slaves). ...