True grit…

My sis-in-law in Kuching sent me some paos (steamed buns) from Kuching, and boy, were they huge?

Kuching big pao

Each of them could easily fill up a saucer to the rim and this was what it looked like inside…

Kuching big pao - inside

As you can see, the skin was extremely thick and there was very little meat. It reminded me of the buns we had during my younger days. People used to snigger at the food of the Foochows in Sibu as being very substantial but considerably bland or lacking in taste. Well, there was a reason for that.

Led by Wong Nai Siong, the Foochow immigrants came and settled in the Rejang Basin in three batches. The first batch consisted of 72 people, the second batch 535, and the third batch 511, totalling 1118 people. Of the total, 130 brought their spouses and families, while the others were bachelors. After working in Sibu, nearly all the immigrants chose to settle down and made Sibu their new home. Some bachelors asked their parents back in China to find wives for them and send them to Sibu. Although many of those new brides who came to Sibu had never seen their partners before, they were happy to settle down here. They raised families and toiled with their husbands for a brighter future in Sibu…

Making rubber sheets
Old Sibu 1
From “Sibu – a city in the making”

Needless to say, life was hard and they ate more for the energy and to fill their stomachs than for pleasure or the taste so that they were able to withstand hunger and labour throughout the whole day.

Pulau Babi wharf
Old Sibu 2
From “Sibu – a city in the making”

Today, other than the Rejang Basin, the Foochows have ventured everywhere as long as there is money to be made. If you have stayed at the Promenade in KK, that belongs to a Foochow, and so is the Tang Dynasty Hotel and the Shangri La Hotel, while in Kuching, the Harbour View Hotel is one of them. If you go anywhere in Kuching these days, you will hear people conversing in Foochow which was quite uncommon back in the 70s and the Foochow-owned Ta Kiong has invaded the city by storm.

Say what you want about the Foochows, there can be no denying that today, they have prospered and many have successfully built their own business empires with vested interests worldwide. A lecturer-friend of mine from KL dropped by on a visit and she was amazed by the huge mansions in this little town. “Are they very cheap?” she asked. Well, I would not think so and one thing’s for sure, the owners are very rich and more likely than not, they are Foochows. Just imagine that they came with nothing more than the clothes on their backs!

Growing pepper
Old Sibu 3
From “Sibu – a city in the making”

People also say that Foochows are very stingy. Somebody said to me once that if you are not stingy, you will never become rich. I guess there is some truth in that. After all, the English also have a proverb that goes, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” In the past, they scrimped and saved, some for the money to send back to their poor next-of-kin in China and they hoped to make the journey back to their homeland one day, alive or otherwise. If you read “Son of Singapore” – one of the three books in Tan Kok Seng’s “The Malaysian Trilogy”, he gave a vivid description of how his father was like that and being a child, he was not able to understand why when he returned, he was very sad and depressed. Was it because the members of his family were having a hard time in their life of poverty back home or was it because he did not die there?

Anyway, it was through this prudent characteristic of the Foochows that they were able to accumulate their money and property to become so rich today. They may not look impressive to you but believe you me, they are loaded amd many have been able to send their children overseas through their sheer blood, sweat and tears and now, all of them are professionals in their own right.

Making mee sua (thread noodles)
Old Sibu 4
From “Sibu – a city in the making”

No, the Foochows do not possess any special skills, they do not enjoy any special privileges or receive any aid. For what they are today, all the credit must go to them themselves for they are reaping the harvest of their years of toil and labour driven by their sheer determination to make something out of their lives in this strange land.

A parting thought – do their present-day descendents, the so-called 3rd/4th generation, possess that same true grit that had made the Foochows what they are today?

Friends for life…

I have just been given this My Blogging Friends Forever BFF Award by foongpc.

Blogging Friends Forever Award 

Here are the rules:
1. Only five people are allowed
2. Four have to be dedicated followers of your blog
3. One has to be someone new or recently new to your blog and live in another part of the world
4. You must link back to whoever gave you the award

Ok, so now it’s my turn. I’m awarding this award to eiling, annant, peteformation, calvin (Two gals, two guys! See…I’m so fair!) and ingchia in New Zealand. Sorry to the rest, you’ll have to wait for your turn when I get another award. LOL!!!

Anyway, here’s a song for everybody! Just click on the link and enjoy the video clip as well. Friends for life!