Saturday, January 31, 2009

River of the White Lily by Peter Goullart

Peter Goullart will fascinate you with his very fine and detailed description of his life in Sarawak. You will read about the accounts of several cooperatives in Sarawak and a good few chapters on the Rejang Basin itself.

I understand that there is indeed a Chinese version of this book.

Goullart came to Sarawak in a Dakota and travelled by motor launches all over Sarawak and especially the Third Divison. He loved the coffee shops of Sibu and boarded with a Chinese Association (which sounded so much like the Foochow Association).

He had his meals in Sibu with a Hailam towkay-neo. It will be a very interesting book to read for those who like history especially.

A very old version of the book (from Google images)

This is my new copy of the book by the Malaysian Heritage Series: The author's name is spelt with only one "l" (Goulart)

The book contains 17 photographs 9 of which were taken by the author himself. The others were taken by Rev. Philip S. Jones.

Cooperative Societies were not exactly successful in Sarawak. There were often sad tales of poor administration and a lot of "utang". Buying first and then paying later (when the members' rubber and pepper were sold) was never a good system.

I would like to quote him:

Page 23 - "Pochuan told me Sibu had more local "millionaires" than anyh other towns in Sarawak...the streets were choked witgh large American cars. The towkays competed with each other in vulgar display; the longer the car and the larger the fins the more "face" accrued to the owner. Pochuan assured me perhaps half jokingly that some took such a car just to cross the street...."

Page 68 - Find out why one must sit in the front in passenger launches...

Page 71 - a description of a flood in Sarikei by the author..."very soon the road in front of the coffee shop was totally covered with water to the delight of cyclists who rode furiously to and fro leaving behind miniature waves...."

Marudi visit page 144:

"The Foochow principal/headmaster (Puyot)and his wife welcomed us warmly...when clearing the land the Foochows must have been a particularly sensible and sensitive group for instead of cutting the great forest wholesale they left everywhere small groves of specialoly shady and imposing trees and spared many individual giants. Therefore their rubber gardens instead of being the usual monotonous rubber plantations seemed to blend with the original landscape and the result was very pleasing."

This book was often recommended for reading at Form Four level and above when I was a student. Today it is a great tourist souvenir. Many would like to have it as a home library collection item .

If you do manage to borrow a copy from the public libary you will be taken down memory lane especially if you are a Foochow and born in Sibu area in the 1950's.

6 memories:

Bengbeng said...

this book looks interesting. at first it looked dull but after u highlighted a few paragraphs yes, I will look for it if I have the opportunity. thanks

sarawakiana said...

Thanks for dropping by.
Hope you can find the book. If not please let me know.

Hope that the water is subsiding and things will get drier by the day.

God bless.

sarawakiana said...

Tony Hii wrote :
A long time ago the river which flows above Bukit Lan had beautiful white flowers growing on its banks. The people started to call the river White Flower River. The name got stuck and today even though the river is called Sg. Empawah (where Tony originated) it is still called River of the White Lily.

Bengbeng said... i get a learer picture. i went to buy durians near Sg Empawah. i had no idea :)

sarawakiana said...

You must meet up with Tony and ask him about all the old tales of Bukit Lan and Empawah.

MayMimie said...

Where can I get this book please? The one I'm reading now is from DBKU library. I wish I can get a copy for my collection. Thanx


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