The river…

One of my all-time favourite movies is “Tom Sawyer”, the musical starring Johnny Whitaker who was very popular in the days of black and white TV in some American sit-coms and the then-very-young Jodie Foster as Becky Thatcher – the girlfriend, with music by John Williams…and I love the theme song, “The River” by Charley Pride. You can click this link to listen to it but the song will only start somewhere in the middle of the video clip. Try catching the meaningful lyrics about a boy growing up to be a man – …only one golden time in his life is he free… – and that would be his childhood days, of course! Nice!

When I was growing up, my house was about 100 metres away from the river – a tributary of the massive Rejang that flows by Sibu town…and at that time, we had a whale of a time going swimming with our friends (Malay and Melanau) from the nearby kampungs. This rubberseeds’ photo from an earlier post of his certainly brings back a lot of pleasant memories to me…

Like in my younger days - rubberseeds' photo
Photo from

…and there was a stream that flowed by our house. My mother taught me and my brother how to swim there. She just threw us into the water and pulled us up by the hair when we were drowning…and the moment we could catch our breath, she would let go again; we struggled to stay afloat and managed to learn how to swim in a jiffy – dogstyle! We only progressed to the big river when we were a bit older.

And on certain days, my maternal grandma and aunties would come to our house and with my mum and of course, my brother and me, we would all go nangok-ing in that same stream. The tide must not be too high; usually the water was around waist or knee-deep. Armed with our baskets, we would go into the stream and catch fish and shrimps like this….. 

Nangok 1 - Gundot's photo
Photo through the kind courtesy of Gundot

So, for the uninitiated, that is what is called “nangok” in Melanau. We did not care about how muddy and murky it was and we did not even think about any danger that could be lurking in the stream. All we knew then was it was so very exciting and so much fun…

Nangok 2 - Gundot's photo
Photo through the kind courtesy of Gundot

Sometimes we would even put our arms into the holes in the muddy bank and catch whatever fish that might be hiding inside. How come we never thought of snakes then, I wonder? Boys will be boys, I guess! Look! Fiq has caught a big prawn!!!…

Nangok 3 - Gundot's photo
Photo through the kind courtesy of Gundot

Of course, we were all wet and covered with mud. I guess that was part of the fun…but no, we did not get to be as bad as this… LOL!!!

Nangok 4 - Gundot's photo
Photo through the kind courtesy of Gundot

We would start from as far upstream as we could go right down to where the stream entered the river. Then we would go home with our catch and the feast would start as soon as we had had our baths and changed into our clean clothes. We would have rebus – some of the shrimps and fish boiled in water with chilli and belacan together with the paku (wild fern) that we would have plucked from the jungle that lined the stream or pais – the fish and shrimps wrapped in banana leaf and panggang (grilled)…and we would enjoy eating the very fresh and sweet luit (shrimps) raw (Some would still be jumping around! LOL!!!), dipped in a special sambal (dip) made with chillies, belacan (dried prawn paste) soy sauce and sugar. Here is a photo from another one of rubberseeds’ posts for those who haven’t the slightest idea what luit looks like…

Luit - rubberseeds' photo
Photo from

That is why when I look at Tom Sawyer’s mischief and pranks, I think we were pretty much the same, more or less, when we were kids. Life was filled with so much fun, excitement and adventure…unlike the miserable sqeaky-clean children of today who would complain of the “stench” even when going past the wet market. I really wonder what kind of life they have – with tuition classes since kindergarten, this they can’t do and that they can’t touch and in a way, I sympathise with them for their lost childhood. Sadly, they will never experience all that joy that I had back then in that wonderful golden time when I lived in our house by the river…

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

22 thoughts on “The river…”

  1. those were the memories. 😀 although last week in shark bay, i went fishing and then went home, straight away bbq it! 😀

    Did you take photos of that? Can post and let us see…

  2. That is an exciting childhood. I don’t have that. I live in the city, play at the street and play guli at the abandon construction site. No place to hunt for ferns and catch river fish. But I catch longkang fish, the small tiny colorful one.

    At least, everyone played marbles or children’s games like catch, hide and seek, “ah sen”, “China fighting with Japan”, monkey catch the ball….and were very active. Now with all the hi-tech games on the computer, when the kids are not studying and watching TV or playing such games, their lives are actually very sedentary.

  3. My kids do get a taste of kampung life. As they grow older it gets less interesting as they outgrew the childhood games of running around in the kpg. I dont mind staying for days there for Gawai and Christmas. I will just read, read and read!

    I guess since they did not live together, the bonding was not that great…unlike the Jackfruit Villagers!

  4. Thanks for sharing.

    So, it has also become a day for me to remember my good old days in a little village down the river. Most of the time we bathed in the little streams where the water ran very clear. While our mother was washing the clothes, my siblings and I would enjoy very cold dips in the stream.

    I also remember when the stream dried up due to a long period of dry spells, we would be bathing in the river. We enjoyed even more at the river when the motor boats passed by with waves rushing towards us.

    We bathed, we washed clothes, and the river water was even safe for drinking.

    Well, such good times …. We have joy. We have fun. We have season in the sun…

    Yes…when the tide was high, my mum would do her laundry by the stream and we would swim to our hearts’ content…with all the ducks all around us! LOL!!! Those were the days!

  5. wah…that is how i was trained in my current company…they will throw u into the pond and if u don learn how to swim,you’ll drown…haha

    i nvr got to experience all this 😦

    Now what company is that? Not a violation of Labour laws kah?

  6. i grew up sqeaky-clean cos i live in da city ma…
    but i enjoy visiting kampung and longhouses…
    overnight for one or two days is ok, more than that, no thanks… 😀

    City girl, I see! Used to the comfortable, good life!

  7. I’m okay with going to wet market and I’ve never complained. But playing with mud or dipping in a muddy river is definitely not my thing. How could you guys even swim in the “milo” river?!!

    LOL!!! Disgusting eh? That was how boys grew up to be men?…But come to think of it, don’t ladies put mud on their faces and bodies these days? Hahahahahahahaha!!!!

  8. My kids enjoyed themselves as in the 1st photo jumping into the Song river. I was so nervous..standing by the bank looking out for crocs/log/ strong current..that was so many years ago…it also bring back sweet memories of those times we were at Granny Dimong fruit garden we would swim and play after lunch.

    Yes, rowing the boat to the fruit gardens, spending the nights there, cooking and enjoying food prepared on a firewood stove…all that would be another story – with Kawi as the main character! LOL!!

  9. Fiq must be enjoying himself.I think we did the same thing long time ago at Queensway.the best place is where the Police HQ is now.. there will be Tamby/Man-nee/Say-eepo/G.dimong/mum/Tai-ee all dressed up like going to the padi field. gee everyone enjoyed and the shrimps n fish cooked in banana leaf was so yummy.

    And we used to fish in the stream for “puyu” and “sepat”…or we would go to the river, using smaller hooks to fish for “seluang”!!! How time flies! Seems like only yesterday when life was so carefree and so much fun!

  10. Kawi going to be your star???? Got his photo? I think i have posted it on facebook. Will see I got any related pics to send you

    OK…the photos taken in the fruit gardens across the river.

  11. beware of crocs, i’d say…

    You’re not talking about the footwear, I guess? LOL!!! Never heard or seen one in these parts my whole life, just the Sri Aman area only…

  12. See so supportive of STP,so tired also commented on his blog. Just came back from Philip Island with my family& sil visiting with 2 kids from NZ. The cousins had a lovely time playing at the beach near philip island called wooloomarra or something,where ironman comp.always held,then to see the penguin parade n ta’pau charsiew rice,soooo tired. Remembered the ‘angchuikau’ red river in oya road, i think a favourite of Jovita n also Uncle PB n also daniel’s dad. N also the opposite river where G.Dimong had a fruit garden. Goodnite STP, heading to sleep now!LOL!

    Wah! U people over there also Hari Raya holidays kah? LOL!!! Yes, we went on picnics at that “ang chui kau”. I think it was the upper reaches of Sg Merah – the water was clear, though red in colour from the withered leaves of the trees all around it.

  13. Haha, never played in the muddy river before.Used to swim and play in “angchuikau” at 5th mile Oya Road…many of us even jumped from the bridge to the river below.STP do you remember that old mandarin song called “Sui Chang Liew”?I think it was popular in the early 70s when we were all naughty playing in the streams and rivers.

    Yes, I know that “Everflowing stream” song. We went to “ang chui kau” a few times too…but I can’t figure out where it is now! 5th Mile should be somewhere where the hospital is. I only remember it was along Oya Road and there was a bridge across the stream…..

  14. ..come to Pulau Tiga..we just did it again yesterday.yes again..mandi kerbau but this is a mud pool and volcanic related….heard ladies pay through their nose in Japan for what we are taking for granted here… MIA la cos entertain a long time friend and his children and new laupo .. k penyu pulau tiga..kundasang via keningau and back for next three days… what a raya eh?

    Johnny Walker Kpenyu…born in 1819, still going strong!…Hey! Why when I went you did not take me to do all that leh? You pilih kasih hor!!! Hahahahahahahahahaha!!!!

  15. hmm.. no way the kids will be doing that nowadays.. not only with the water effluents and whatever contaminants,but also mini bujang senangs lurking in the river waters would end you up with serious skin rashes or worst still in the stomach of a croc..hahhaha

    Exactly what the doting parents today would tell the children!!! Inland, in the streams that flow by the longhouses…the water is clean and clear still and they pump their water supply from the streams!!! I’m sure there are more serious dangers in the food people eat today!

  16. The Oya Road 5th mile bridge is just after the small roundabout (beside the Shell station) and infront of the traffic lights.

    Oh? That one? Does not look like “ang chui kau” at all!!!!! Oh dear!!!

  17. Must admit i am a city kid… though at least I’ve swam in rivers quite a few times. Every gawai i visit my friend in Kpg Semadang near Borneo Heights. His house is by a very nice scenic river and the water is still considerably clear. JFV should go there for a picnic. hehe.

    Ur friend? Boy or girl?…Hehehehehehehe!!!!!!

  18. Oh… u reminded me of the toastmasters camp this year, we went for jungle trekking near YMCA resort, took 6 hours, everyone was like covered in mud and tired, but we had fun

    Haven’t been there…but I guess it’s a nice place to go to. You’ll have more of that when u go for that Khidmat Negara thing! Have fun!

  19. My friend is a 50 yr old man with a wife and 4 kids…. hahahah!

    I see!!! Got daughter? How old? Hahahahahahahaha!!!!

  20. tt brought back memories of my young days growing up in Tamparuli, a small town bout 40km fr KK. We learn to swim in the river too in sarongs without mum’s blessing, in another words we sneaked out n when she did find out we’d be in for a whipping but tt never seem to deter us. The river was just soo tempting. Wonderful times.

    My mum would use a sarong and she would beat the water around her and the air would collect in the sarong like a balloon…and she could float on the water using the sarong! Yes, those were such wonderful times indeed. Btw, welcome…and do drop by often! Will link you in my blogroll!

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