Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bukit Aup Sibu : Takang Quarry vs Jubilee Park

This photo of "local tourists" (actually family members) has a story to tell.

It was taken my father who was the owner of the Ta Kang quarry which extracted and crushed the granite from Bukit Aup.

The rocks were religiously "dynamited" by my father with the help of his Iban workers. Each week he had to bring his quarry licence first to the PWD (Public Works Department) to get his stipulated consignment of dynamite signed by the Divisional Engineer in the morning and then to the Police Department where he would collect a wooden box of dynamite.

I used to worry if the dynamite might blow off in his Land Rover on his way to Aup for I had read quite a lot of detective novels by then.

He would then have part of the granite hill "blown off" between 4 and 5 p.m. (He had a sign up in English and Chinese for this)

The signboard read something like this "Please be warn that no one should be in the vicinity at around 4-5 p.m. -Danger caused by dynamite !! By order PWD."

(I only remember that the words for dynamite in Chinese were fire medicine.)

I would always remember that at 4 no one would be around and the then jungle would become so quiet that I could hear a bird sing or a rock fall and even the energetic explosion of a bursting ripe rubber seed!


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I smile today because the usual indemnity statement (e.g.loss of life or any untoward damages would not be the responsibility of the management)would then have been rather necessary.

The "blowing up" of part of the hillside was like a movie scene. We the children would hide near the office and cover our ears while my father would be standing in the distance ready to press the detonator with his right foot. His two men would run to the selected rock crevice to set up the dynamite. This was followed by a white flag to show that they had inserted the dynamite. My father would respond with his white flag. And then the two men would run for cover in the machinery hut. Upon reaching their protective shed they would raise their red flag and my father would also raise his red flag as acknowledgement.

At that moment my father would step on the detonator (ala David Niven) and he would run to the office where we would beam our best Tiong smile for our hero.

The office was quite a good distance away. And those were the only moments we ever saw our father in "great action - walking very quickly - almost running". Actually the operation was very safe .

I have often wondered whether people today do their quarrying in such gentle ways - dynamite only enough for the week's supply for government use.

My father was given the annual renewable license to supply gravel for government road building. It was all very environmentally friendly I remember. If the PWD stopped workig for a while my father did not need to collect his dynamite which was a very controlled item. His machinery would just crush the stones which needed to be processed to the required sizes. The PWD trucks would not come to collect the gravel and my father would work half day only.

In retrospect I wonder what would have happened if my father was ambushed and kidnapped! But then that small amount of dynamite was not worth it I suppose.

Or may be because my father was such a mild person no communist had ever thought of taking the dynamite from him.

As Bukit Aup is state land my father never applied to own the small granite outcrop. The history of Bukit Aup would have been really different if he had been an ambitious man and had strategic plans to add on to his landed property. But he was a mild gentle scholarly man with aesthetics pursuits.

Today it has been transformed into the Bukit Aup Jubilee Park

A lovely bridge over the green lake.

Another blogger BengBeng is the guy in the photo.

A photo by blogger friend Victor Kiu taken when he and his friends chilled out in the Jubilee Park.

The water in the pool is not "living" meaning that there is no outlet. This bomb crater continues to trap rainwater and the greeness is a combination of the greenery surrounding it and the algae that has grown underneath it. The pool to my knowledge has never been dry as the granite layer supporting the body of water must be truly impermeable.

So if you like do get a pair of lovely sunshades from Mr. Tiong Tak King's International Optics and chill out in the Jubille Park like what we used to do.

The ambience may not be the same any more. You can't hear cicadas or small rocks bursting out of the granite crevices in the hot sun.

10 memories:

Bengbeng said...

only now i know the history of this place. u r an archive of knowledge. wow. thanks for using my pic. i will tell victor :)

I Am Sarawakiana said...

If only I can be some kind of niang niang living as an immortal guarding local knowledge and history in some high mountains like Huang Shan!!

Nice thinking eh?

It is my pleasure to promote things worthy of Sibu......thanks BB and Victor.

Philip said...

Thanks for sharing. Never know the senior Tiong operated the Bukit Aup quarry last time.

Greenspot said...


It is an interesting posting. Coincidentally also carries a story on Bukit Aup about the legendary Princess of Naga Sari. I didnt know before this that there is a legend associated with Bukit Aup. As school boys, we would go to Bukit Aup for picnic. We would also climbed to the top of the building and have a vantage view of Batang Igan and Sibu town. At that time we would see leftover of offering by the Ibans from nearby longhouse.

abana said...

Beng Beng I agreed with you.
She was.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Dear Philip
You might be too young to remember because the quarry stopped operation a few years after my dad passed away in 1965. My uncle took over it and made some nice profits.
Yes many students who were adventurous cycled to Bukit Aup, climbed the hill and visited the longhouses.

Remember Augustine Liom? Jugah Umpi? Cikgu Catherine? L/C Linus? They are all from Sg. Aup.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

For over forty years I hold the belief that Bukit Aup has the best view of Sibu and the Igan.

You must check out the flora of the Bukit Aup and whether the pool is really a mystical one.

So pay it a visit again!

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Abana and Beng Beng
Hahaha thanks for the compliments.
All of us are actually trying our best to remember the history of Sibu in order to make the future even better!
You have your roles to play too through your photography and stories.
All the best.

Bengbeng said...

however i dont know any thing about prairie dogs ..yr latest post :)

I Am Sarawakiana said...

I am getting one article on pets. Check it out soon!

thanks for visiting.


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