Sunday, February 01, 2009

Houses on Stilts

The floods of Sibu 3lst Dec 2008 and 29 Jan2009 make me think of the suitability of houses on stilts.

Kampong Nyabor where I used to live had two rows of houses on stilts . As I remember floods would come and go but the homes were dry because they were on stilts.

Later as the families grew bigger the children who could not afford to build their own homes and the kampong was just too small to accommodate more new houses they walled up the lower floor and set up home. Sometimes two families would occupy the lower floor. According to a reliable source this was predicted by a wise Malay man many years ago that the new generation would have to make room "downstairs".

As concrete and bricks were introduced by the Sarawak Construction Company in the late 50's more and more houses were built "on the ground" and stilted houses became "old fashion". Two very wealthy men Ting Chew Huat and Ting Chew Hin had outstanding concrete houses on stilts.

One of the most beautiful houses in Sibu built on stilt was the huge Malay style house belonging to our Tuanku Haji Bujang along Jalan Tuanku Osman. Unfortunately I have not photo to prove this.

Another beautiful Malay house on stilt was at the junction of Jalan Kampong Datu owned by Dr. Abang Yusuf's family. I believe it was No.1 Jalan Kampong Datu. What a lucky address!!

This is a great photo by Steve Ling which really shows how high Sibu flood can be. Sibu can be flooded two or three times a year now. The causes can be myriad - king tide or heavy rain in the upper reaches of the Rejang;global warming and melting of the polar caps;rising of sea level; sinking of Borneo island; and not forgetting siltation and erosion caused by deforestation. Apparently at one time the chain saw owned by the Ibans has also been accused of causing floods. Shifting cultivators of course have always been blamed by various politicians for causing floods of gargantuan dimensions.

About 20 years ago my third uncle (Lau Pang Sing)had to build a smaller house as our grandmother's mansion was taken away by the erosion caused by the huge back wash of the powerful express boats. He built a small house on stilts. We never took a photo of this house - it was also painted blue. It was later abandoned and the family moved to Lucky Road Sibu (originally Luik Kii or Sixth District) This Chinese New Year I went back to Sg. Maaw and took a photo of a similar house.

This photo depicts an eco-friendly house. The stilts keep the flood away from the living areas. And ducks can swim in the huge drain and water logged areas.

The car can be parked on the road which is built higher than the house when there is a flood.(Specification of the government for road making)

This is the Lake House (from the movie) which has inspired me a lot. Perhaps one day I could build myself a lake house.

But this is definitely my dream house - it is a cross stitch pattern which I can definitely stitch and put in my living room just to inspire me when flood water is every where.

This is a house on stilt in Whitehaven where you can stay for a good holiday.

This is a Caribbean style holiday house on stilts.

This is a holiday home you can rent in Florida. You can be free from floods definitely.


And finally I could have learned a thing or two from Ernest Hemingway's House on Stilts years ago and not simply buy a property because every body else in Sibu was buying a semi D and from a very friendly financier who was just too eager to get his friends to buy one of his projects!! Over the years we have suffered year in year out submergence and horrible after flood distress.

How long can the Sibu folks continue to tolerate this situation. Some times I feel that we have become too flood-tolerant!!

4 memories:

Bengbeng said...

i was staying in a stilted house for six years. it was comfortable indeed. i looked down and saw water every where but i was above it all..Lord over it all :)

I Am Sarawakiana said...

I was born in a stilted house in Kerto island and lived there until I was about 6 when my family moved to the town of Sibu - across the Rejang River. I can still remember a lot of things.
Recently I communicated with a cousin who lived three houses on the same island. She is now a grandmother and in Miri too.
Yes my house was very comfortable.

BB said...

yes. my parents are stilted too. and it is safe from flood. yay!

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Hamster Me
Nice of you to visit.
Yay it is safe and comfortable to be living in a stilted house these days.
Lau King Howe Hospital of Sibu was built on stilts too. Many mothers experienced giving birth in good conditions when it was flooding outside!!
May God bless the soul of Mr. Lau King Howe.


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