December 15, 2017

Sibu Tales : Losing a Child

Sandbars along the Rajang River are not uncommon. There are a few famous ones where school children enjoyed having picnics and great thrills in the by gone days.

Pulau Kerto was in those days a romantic place for many to visit because it had a sand bank. Scouts and Girl Guides had many precious memories of their activities there, especially cooking on the river beach.
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As a few friends would say, "Sibu in those days had no swimming pools, no mountains and no seas for any one to enjoy."

Getting to the sand bars using small boats borrowed from friends was already a thrill in itself. However teachers had to be very vigilant whenever they brought kids for picnics like this in the 1960's. I remember my cousins had a great picnic when they were in Senior Middle School and they were accompanied by their Chinese language teachers.

A few incidents , very tragic ones, took place in the 60's. there were several drowning cases. But that did not deter many others to enjoy the thrills of visiting a sand bar during the holidays, with or without teachers.An aunt lost a very bright daughter because the tide came up too fast . While the rest could swim in time to the river bank, she was carried away by the current. It was a family tragedy.

After the 70's with bad political instability in Sibu, children learned not to seek thrills outside their homes if they could help it. They took to the streets, cinema halls, gambling dens and for thrills, probably some also went underground.

Today these sandbanks are no longer playgrounds but "industrial sites" where machinery dredges sand for a profit. Sarawak and all its development projects need a lot of sand. River sand is a very profitable business.

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