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Friday, May 22, 2009

The Road before the Sungei Merah Bridge



One of the bridges of Sarawak I know best is the Sungei Merah Bridge.And the first time I saw the bridge was when I was about six.

At that time the most important shop to me must be the one selling cakes which was situated next to the Seduan River at the end of the wooden bridge. Below the bridge would be berthed wooden fishing boats unlike the colourful ones today.

Young men would sit on the railings of the wooden bridge and watched the few vehicles passing by. More bicycles passed through the bridge than cars or small lorries then. I also remember watching people fish from the bridge in the evenings and their catch was fairly good as they had big aluminium pails with them.

It was a real thrill and a treat to be brought by my father to the bridge and watch the red but very clear water passing below in the evenings as there were very few places my father could bring the family for "makan angin" or siak hoong (a short trip).





This bridge has been very important to the people of Sibu from the time of James Hoover until the 1980's when a second road to the old Airport was built to facilitate Government activities.

The Sungei Merah bridge before 1980's was the most important link to the Chinese cemeteries on the eastern bank of Sungei Merah/Sediuan. And also the only route to the Old Sibu Airport. This bridge was also very significant to the Henghuas who developed Sungei Teku and the surround areas of Ulu Seduan etc. I also remember that the Ibans from Sungei Aup found the bridge a very convenient link to Sibu otherwise they have to row their longboats all the way along the Igan to Sibu which could even take up to one whole day!!

The area below the bridge continues to be "harbour" to many fishing boats which fish in the Igan River and then out to the South China Sea.

Thus our Foochow pioneers must have felt rather at home in this part of the world as they would have found similarities between the Min River of their homeland and Sungei Merah of Sarawak.

Today the bridge is much improved under the circumstances. However because it is still a small bridge trailers are warned not to cross it. But any feelings of nostalgia seem to have disappeared.

Perhaps the name of the road before the bridge would evoke some nostalgia - but only to people who recognise the name : Wong Ting Hock - to the other younger people Sungei Merah is just another suburb of Sibu with some historical but newly constructed memorials. Lots of modern lines have come up and industrial shophouses continue to dot the concretised landscape.

This point should always be remembered by the Foochows as the landing place of the First Foochow Pioneers in 1901 and where the Rev James Hoover and the struggling pioneers managed the first hard years of their lives in Sibu.

10 memories:

Greenspot said...

Sarawakiana,

Yes, I remember the Sg Merah bridge very well. We used to past by the bridge on the way to the Airport and would sometimes stopped by the row of wooden shophouse to buy kuih.

fufu said...

i plan on going to sarawak in this sept... cant wait to see the different stuff there sooner :)

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Greenspot
Thanks for reminding me about the Bridge being the only access to the Sibu Old Airport. I don't have my personal photo of the Sungei Merah Bridge yet.
Also the biscuit shop was just so popular...later it moved nearer to the Tiong Hin School.
Remember Sungei Merah was also a workshop paradise. You can have a great choice of car mechanics...most of them being Heng Hua.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Fufu
You are most welcome to visit Sarawak. Visit Sibu and the Rajang Basin...Stay in Premier Hotel and link up with Tony Hii and Rajang Basin who might take you on a bicycle trekking down river..(sorry Sibu bloggers I am volunteering you!)

Then plan a second trip to the Baram Mulu and Miri!!
Have a great plan first.
If you come to Miri I can give you one free half day trip to Bekenu to meet old ladies. That's all I can offer....:)

Greenspot said...

Sarawakiana,

In fact, I remember two bridges very well in Sibu. One is the Sg Merah Bridge and the other is the bridge over Loba Lembangan. Those 2 bridges must have been around for ages. Prewar? Any idea who built them. Both have similr structure, it seems.

Greenspot

sarawakiana said...

I think no one has ever written about these two bridges. Those who could remember the construction must have passed on.
Bridges are just so important to us. They provide so much conveniences and also " connections".
I will try to find out more in my research. Hope some readers can help too.

ngoh said...

Small bridges are always very interesting especially those bridging two sides of populated banks....then the bridge becomes a kind of thoroughfare.
China has many bridges and so does England. Hence people over there are very appreciative of their bridges. They take photos and write poems etc.... some Chinese songs are also about bridges.

sarawakiana said...

Ngoh - thanks for your visit.
It is nice to hear about people who are appreciative of bridges....

franas said...

Sungei Merah bridge, What memories! In the 60's, used to swim in the river while exchanging glances with a sweet Hakka girl watching on from the bridge. We were too young. Agnes, where are you?

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Franas
Thanks for visiting...

I hope one day Agnes will be reading this post!!

cheers.

 

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