Thursday, January 17, 2008

Durians,Dabai,Mangosteens,Langsat, Keranji Season

IN those long ago days, when motor launches plied the Rejang River, and Ibans brought down their harvests of annual fruits from Kapit after a two day and one night slow journey, Sibu became alive with loud bargains for the precious durians, dabai, mangosteens, langsat and others at night along Pulau Babi.

Pulai Babi has always been known as Pulau Babi. The name came from the fact that pigs were slaughtered at the end of the Sibu town in that particular place, where the River Lembangan joins the giant Rejang River.

There were three things associated with Pulau Babi.

Firstly, it was the place where many pigs were slaughtered according to most oral stories.

Secondly, it was the idea site for landing of boats, goods and local products like engkabang and rubber. the further part was called the Kapit Jetty, followed by the coastal jetty. Other river village boats and motor launches would be berthed nearest to the Chinese Temple.

Thirdly, it was place where prostitution flourished. Little stalls or warongs, would be the pick up places for these ladies of the night and their men friends. Some how one could always tell which of the ladies could be approached for a fee. And very often, in order to meet a client further from the jetty, some of these ladies would happily sit in a trishaw heading towards a hotel in another part of the town.

Later in the evenings, families would gather to buy the local fruits like durians and dabai. Hawkers and vendors, and even fruit owners, would just trade from their huge baskets. All they needed were a few basketful of fruits, a scale and some pastic bags. And their business would go on until the fruits were finished. During the fruit season, no one needed a licence to operate their business. And they could trade up till midnight even.

furthermore, the trading was brisk and no one would really be competiting with another. Even though every man was for himself, business was so good that no one would be jealous of each other.

Those days could really be called Free Trade Time.

4 memories:

FrancisN said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FrancisN said...

I missed those days checking out the piles of durians laid out on the road side next to the Sibu wharf. I can never forget the smell of durians, the bargaining among the buyers and sellers and the skill of the sellers splitting open the durians. How I love the taste of durians then.

Yet, I have not tasted durians since I left Sibu in 1969.

Unknown said...

You are a great story-teller!! Talking about Pulau Babi and prostitution, well you must have remember places like Mission Road in those days!!!!

I Am Sarawakiana said...

There was a "road" called Long Bridge. Many Chinese and Ibans lived there in very close proximity, some of the wooden huts were fairly big but most were small. It was rumoured that many bad hats hid there. Most of the nightclub waitresses lived there too. But I believe these houses were built by some towkays who needed to give quarters to their employees.
Could they be considered real squatter homes?
Now we will neverbe able to research their origins and their migration elsewhere. It could have been a good anthroplogical study.


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