Small town…

Last Friday, Melissa had something on and could not come home till late by which time, everyone else would have gone and she would not be able to hitch a ride with one of her colleagues going her way. Thus, I had to drive all the way there to get her…and while waiting for the time, I managed to spend some time loitering around that small town…

Selangau

I would not say that it is exactly very small – there are quite a number of blocks of shophouses actually and this is the one facing the market but I find it  amazing how the town is only about 1½ hours from Sibu and yet, it is so very different. This is basically Dayak territory, Iban specifically, if I’m not mistaken…so when you walk around the town, you will see and hear a lot of Ibans speaking their own language unlike Sibu which is quintessentially Chinese.

It was around 3-4 in the afternoon and the market was still bustling with activity…

Market

It seems that one can get wild boar meat anytime here…and that day, I saw a stall selling ikan keli (cat fish) – huge ones, as big as my arm at RM10 a kilo. I did not get any, though I was quite tempted to do so, as at that size, the fish may be lo ko (tough and hard) and will not be very nice.

I took a stroll to the river that flows by the town…

The river 1

…and saw some people in a longboat, probably making their way back to their longhouse deep in the jungle upriver.

I shared this photograph on Facebook…

The river 2

…and instantly, there were people commenting as to how muddy and murky the river is. Of course, they have failed to see the beautiful greenery, the clear blue skies…and the serenity all around and the slow and easy life at places such as this. I mentioned that I would not be surprised that they would have to bathe and do their laundry in the river and for drinking and cooking, they would probably need to collect rain water as and when it falls. The irony is these people may be a lot happier and content with their lives compared to many of us living in the big towns and cities who moan and groan about literally anything and everything under the sun despite being blessed with all that we have around us. This brings to mind Catherine Lim’s “The Journey” from her “Little Ironies – Stories of Singapore collection. If I may quote  a review of the anecdote, “…Catherine Lim highlights the theme of appearance versus reality; that the modern comforts of luxury and better sanitary standards does not naturally bring about true happiness and prosperity…”

See this man fishing by the bank under the hot sun

Fishing

Who are we to say that he comes from a miserable lot and is leading a really miserable life? Who knows, he may be happier than anyone of us – you or me.

I remember when I was very very young and we did not have such good roads that we have today, my father took us on a drive to Sarikei…and I had a photograph taken at a bridge like this one…

Selangau bridge 1

That was so very long ago…and that was why when I was sending Melissa to her school the first time, I was amazed that there ARE such bridges still around…and still standing strong – unlike some of those built by our modern-day university-qualified engineers! I remember driving to a school across river in Kanowit and as we approached a bridge along the way, we saw that there was a detour…and we had to use an old, wooden bridge that had seen better days to cross the little stream – but as least, it was still strong and served its purpose…unlike the brand-new bridge which had split into two and collapsed, the broken ends (in the middle) in the water. Perhaps if you drive very fast, you may be able to go down one end and get across to the other end and go up the bank on the other side like how we see people doing such stunts in the movies. That certainly speaks volumes about the highly-qualified people that the universities are churning out today, don’t you think?

Well, here’s a closer look at the bridge…

Selangau bridge 2

…which probably will be standing tall for years and years to come, unappreciated and yet it goes on doing what it does best for the many that use it day in and day out, taking it for granted and never giving it a second thought as to how it could have been had the bridge not been there.

Happiness is how we make it and what we make it to be – we just need to appreciate every little thing that we have, count our many blessings and give thanks and praise to God above. “With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.” (DESIDERATA)

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39 thoughts on “Small town…

  1. used to be amazed of these bridges… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bailey_bridge. City peeple does not understand lah no matter how much u try to explain to them re the murky water… was in Miri early 2000 for almost a year , and enjoyed every bit of it… those market at Batu Niah, was a stopover for buses plying Miri – Bintulu… those crocodile infested river (the more crocodile the more udang galah u will get)…

    Oh? If you had been going Bintulu-Sibu, this town would be the rest stop…like Batu Niah.

    The river here in Sibu is the same and I saw people living in houses by the bank collecting the water in big oil drums. They left it standing for a long time and let the impurities in the water settle down at the bottom…and they say they used the water for all purposes. I tried, the water had that mud smell…but I guess they were used to it. Might help if they had used a filter…

  2. I loved Catherine Lim’s books! I have that book you mentioned. It was used as a literature book during my older siblings time. By the time it reach my time to take up literature, the book was changed to Charlie & the Chocolate Factory.

    Roald Dahl! Lots of underlying implications and meanings, that book..but I think I would prefer Catherine Lim antytime. I also have that book…from the late 70’s – 78/79…or 80…till today! Precious!

  3. After being in Doha, I really appreciate all those greeneries that we have back home, esp now that the temp is rising everyday, now at 37 degree cel!

    Good grief!!! It’s very hot here too though – 33, the other day, I heard.

  4. I can imagine the peace and quiet, as well the the beauty and simplicity of this small town…those long boats are fascinating too:) Thanks for sharing this Arthur :)

    Yes, we should take a little time off to smell the roses…while we still can.

  5. our place sure has a lot of resemblance!
    haha, it seems refreshing to be fishing on that river tho
    i never tried fishing at all hahaha

    You big time city boy, never ever fished before?

  6. Small town, peaceful, calm and love the chirpy sounds of the birds. Scary looking at the murky water. Should count our blessing to have clean water pipe.

    …and I’m sure they are very thankful they have that murky water. Many people in many countries do not…and they too – during the kemarau or the dry season. Just imagine how they would have to manage.

  7. How true! How true! We take too many things for granted and always look at what we don’t have or can’t have (which may not necessarily be things that we actually need) and moan and groan all the way through life. We have lots to learn from the village people. You are right, happiness is in our hands.

    We can’t possibly be happy if we complain about every little thing, moan and groan all the time, criticise left, right and centre….and the worse thing is it will affect our relationships – with our loved ones, our own family…and with out friends and colleagues. Leaves a botter taste in everyone’s mouth, it would! I know some that everyone would avoid like a plague…simply because of this and honestly, what is the meaning of life if we make it so miserable?

  8. Love the greenery.

    Happiness is what we make of it. Good is also what we make of it. Lots of time people fail to realise that and I confess I am also one of the guilty ones. THANX for today’s lively post. Love the lesson :D

    Yes, I always bear in mind this quotation: “I always complained that I had no shoes…until I saw a man who had no feet.”

  9. Luckily you didn’t buy that Ikan Keli. You are wise that it could be tough and difficult to eat. I am talking from bad experience!
    The old bridges are often strongest and withstood all the earthquakes & harsh weathers! I have seen the ancient Marco Polo bridge in Beijing that stands proudly. Now did you hear of the recent unused flyover bridge in Putrajaya that collapsed by itself, Goodness! It was concrete and the engineers should be sent to lock ups but this matter was swept under the carpet.

    Looking at the muddy water, I thought back of my young days playing in muddy water during flood seasons in Thailand and drank only rain water collected from the roofs. It has definitely strengthened my body’s immunity.

    Ya…I read or heard about that flyover. Putrajaya? Oh dear! I will be there soon – I hope it was not because I visited the place sometime ago. Hehehehehehehehe!!!!!

    Hah!!! Just look at how big and strong you are now…not like the over-pampered, over-protected wimps we have these days!!! Frankly, I think our boys these days are more like girls, or worse.

  10. agree with you one this “Who are we to say that he comes from a miserable lot and is leading a really miserable life? Who knows, he may be happier than anyone of us – you or me”.

    But then in life most will think the grass is greener the other side

    That is why there are so many unhappy people in this world…and when they move to the other side and find that the grass is actually greener on this side, they will be too proud to admit it and start saying all the bad things to console themselves and to make people believe that they are actually very much better off where they are.

  11. Seeing river like that is natural for me. I agree with you, they missed the green scenery which is hardly found in town. At least our river is clean from the rubbish and still flowing…

    True, true. Some in the cities stink like hell, so black and dirty and smelly…like this one here:
    http://suituapui.wordpress.com/2008/08/16/here-i-am/
    At least, the authorities have done something about the one in Kuching – very nice now…and also the one in Malacca (and also Singapore – had to pinch my nose when walking past…when I was there long ago) – suitable for river cruises unlike before.

  12. What interesting things you can find when you have time to loiter… ;-)

    Time management, priorities…we will just have to make time to stop and smell the roses and put some meaning back into our lives.

  13. yeah, agree with you.. happiness can be simple and it’s what we choose to make it to be…

    Precisely. All the books, all the seminars (and people making heaps of money from them) about positive thinking, motivation, life improvement and yet when we look around us, everyone seems to be so negative! Not a good word about anything comes out from their mouths. Something has gone very wrong somewhere with our society today. Sad, real sad!

  14. I remember taking the ferry ride from Sarikei to Sibu town before they build the bridge!

    Yup!!! And all the uproar when they opened the bridge… Now, not a sound anymore.

    People really see things negatively all the time, dunno why – just do not know how to appreciate and count their blessings.

    Remember the queue at the ferry point especially during festivals and holidays – would take hours and hours to get across the river…and very often, there were fights because the gangsters would jump queue…and sometimes, one of the ferries would break down!!! I had to use those every weekend – Durin side – when I was teaching in Kanowit in the 70s & 80s.

    • wow…that’s a lot of memories! I sometimes do miss the ferry ride going across the river. The only downside is during peak season. Long Q.

      It was a nice experience…ya, when you do not need to queue…and wait…and wait. Durin side, great for stopping to look around the stalls there – selling vegetables, fruits, handicrafts…and also to go for a pee break.

  15. Very tame la the political parties there. Here since announcement of dissolution …all BN flags up already everywhere and anywhere….. say a lot about BN confidence in Sarawak.

    I avoided taking photographs of those – lots of them, every longhouse, village…and even the town but unfortunately, none from your side – wait a minute! There was one! Just one…one solitary one, the eye – right in front of Melissa’s school. Probably one teacher is that solitary supporter. Kesian!!! Hehehehehe!!!!!

  16. King Arthur, I think you are highly discontent with the current education system…. But to blame it all on current graduates, is totally unfair…. True, substandard universities and mass produced graduates are everywhere….. True also our education system is in the mess, thanks to 55 years of Better Nation….. but I think you have neglected the fact of corruption and cutting corners….

    That is how YOU see it, but there are many other different considerations and points of view. That is why I avoid such “sensitive issues” here – so I would appreciate it if you would refrain from using my blog as a platform for your grievances like what they do on Facebook (and many of whom I’ve unfriended since they obviously do not know that there is a time and place for everything). I will just delegate any such comments to spam…and personally, I would favour letting students fail at Primary 6 like during my time so that what comes out at the end of the line would be the cream – the real quality stuff…not any Tom, Dick or Harry. But that’s my opinion…and I’m sure there are a thousand and one others who will disagree – the story will never end. So, if you please, discussion along this line is closed and with due respect to the blog owner, you may do it elsewhere, thank you very much.

  17. My first thinking about the photo is also on how dirty the water is.. But then, have to agree the clear blue sky and greens are very eye-catchy too!

    Like everything else, it all depends on how we look at it…

  18. Although the water looks dirty,the blue sky is amazing…
    I been there once, a small town but very crowded.

    It is indeed very busy for a small town unlike Kanowit. After lunchtime there, it goes to sleep…and picks up again a bit at night.

  19. “Happiness is how we make it and what we make it to be – we just need to appreciate every little thing that we have, count our many blessings and give thanks and praise to God above.”
    I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    I’m glad you do.

  20. i like your photos of the scenery. it’s been many years since my last visit to sarawak, probably more than five years. i confess, i’m more comfortable in the city and i don’t even have proper shoes for walking outdoors on grassy riverside areas, but maybe someday, when i get fired from my job or i suddenly find myself in need of escaping from the world, i should head to a small town in sarawak to just get some refuge and time to think :D

    No need for proper shoes – just go in those good ol’ Japanese flip-flops, good enough. I wouldn’t go barefooted though…for obvious reasons.

  21. Once in a while, visit small town or kampung actually quite interesting. This type of place, must bring my boys, let them learn. I think they will quite excited to try on the small sampan..but i am scare..i don’t know how to swim and i scare got crocodile! hahahhahah

    Bring me along. If sampan overturns and we all fall into the water, sure the crocodile will eat the fat one first. Muahahahahaha!!!! Ya…I bet your boys will enjoy themselves very much. Aup is nothing…compared to the real thing, or Lake Garden for that matter.

  22. Arthur..you really 24 hours dad :) despite the murky water, I think it has a beautiful scenery around the river. I dont mind fishing there..so tranquil and serene :)

    No nice housing estates there – I wouldn’t mind renting a place…and moving there. Would be very relaxing living there, slow and easy.

  23. life in smaller town are not that hectic.

    Best for old retirees like me. I wouldn’t want to live in KL – the jam alone would be enough to kill me. :(

  24. Very nice views! I do envy them for being able to spend their lives in such a serene surrounding! :D

    I would move there if they had nice decent houses for rent or for sale. Would probably live a lot longer.

  25. Actually, have you ever seen any clear bluish/ greenish river in Malaysia or even any other Asian countries? Just because those rivers are like teh tarik colour, doesn’t mean that they are dirty. I don’t see any rubbish in that Selangau river at all. I love to check out the kedai- kedai and market in these villages as you just don’t know what you will find :) Love your comments to Edward Kong and especially to Kathy’s… that’s exactly what I told you one evening while we were out and about in NZ.

    Oh? Actually, somebody came and commented on what had transpired DESPITE what I said, somebody who is NOT man enough to use his own name and his genuine email address. Needless to say, we all know where I would delegate this kind of people and their comments – right where they belong – TRASH!!! Enough said! As always, haters will hate. PERIOD!

  26. Such a wonderful father.. going out all the way to fetch her…. now who’s talking? hahahaa.. i guess as parents, we really look forward to seeing our kids each week….

    Yalor, you also the same…and you have THREE!!! I only have one – just hope that she will eventually find someone who will take good care of her this same way… ;)

  27. i don’t know why, but i simply love the market like that.. look so oriental!

    Yes, very nice place…and unlike in the bigger towns, they are all very friendly – everyone will talk to you…

    • thats good. next time i go there lets take a boat and we ride ourselves.. possible?

      I should think so, bet the people there would be most happy to rent out theirs for a while.

  28. Contentment is the key to happiness!

    Precisely…and I’d like to believe I am – very contented with the way my life has been…and hopefully, will always be.

  29. well said! human beings always tend to look at the negative side first and forget the positive. They dont even realize that the positive outweigh the negative and we should also always count our blessings each daily for everything… even small ones… :)

    I do not see any meaning in life if one is always unhappy, always finding fault in everything. Every cloud a=has a silver lining – we just have to look for it.

  30. thanks for sharing this suituapui.. i will start to count blessings. i will appreciate every little things around me. now this post makes me happier with who i am today. thanks so much. i thank God for knowing your blog and reading your post while i’m taking my lunch. :)

    Don’t we all? We really have so many things to be thankful for and to be happy about…

  31. it may be muddy or murky, but this is part of the natural sediments contain in the water. your photos are awesome! how is melissa doing there?

    Coping well enough. She has very nice housemates…and rural students are definitely easier to handle…and there is no sign of any tiger mum around, not like in the town.

  32. What lovely photos! Esp of the market and all of the activity! I wish we had more of those around here :)

    Hi, Jennifer! Seen you often at Opal’s, glad you’ve dropped by here too. Yes, this is very different from the usual things people see overseas – those from abroad find them very interesting and love dropping by to look around at places like this – a big change from the big modern cities, that’s for sure. I enjoyed myself browsing around too.

  33. The first thing I thought when I saw those last three shots were oh my look how green it is! I love the outdoors I also couldn’t help but think how peaceful it looked and wonder how long they had to travel to get to market. So many of us take things for granted, it’s nice to slow down a bit. I also couldn’t help but imagine myself in that longboat to to get and up close and personal feel for their lifestyle. I like simplicity.

    My daughter and I regularly take breaks from our fast paced world pull out a blanket and enjoy nature. During the cold months we park in front of our woods stove, reading, working on crafts, or just chatting with each other… savoring our time together.

    I had my share of all that when I was small. Now that things have changed so much in my town, all those have become memories of our very colourful past – things that young people in the modern towns and cities even here will never get to experience and enjoy – I guess they’re quite happy with their ipads and smartphones and all those gadgets. I love the slow and easy life there – if there are nice houses to rent or buy, I wouldn’t mind moving there…to relax and enjoy my retirement in the midst of all that peace and quiet…and clean fresh air!

  34. Pingback: Pit stop… | ...Still crazy after all these years!

  35. just wondering : what town is that?

    Selangau, one and half hours from Sibu on the way to Bintulu/Miri. First time seeing you here – welcome and do drop by again. Cheers!

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