Boats against the current…

We do not have to look too far at the other towns in Sarawak or those in Sabah or West Malaysia for I am sure there are a number of people in Sibu even who have never been to the towns upriver like Kanowit, Song, Kapit and Belaga. Kanowit is now easily accessible by road unlike the time when I was teaching there in the late 70s and early 80s but to get to the other towns mentioned, you will need to take an express…

Sibu Express 1

I remember at one time, when I mentioned travelling by express to my friends in the peninsula, they thought that I meant going by train or by bus. Well, there’s no train in Sarawak and when we say “express”, we are actually referring to these boats that ply the mighty Rejang – the only link between the towns upriver and Sibu. Nope, there is no road connection either.

You will have to take one of these express boats at the Sibu Express Terminal…

Sibu Express 2

…and a 2-hour ride would take you up to Song and another half an hour or so, you will get to Kapit. The journey to Belaga is definitely much longer and you will have to go through the Pelagus Rapids – the mere name of which would scare the living daylights out of some people.

Well, I went to the terminal as ah^kam_koko’ came down from Katibas to Sibu again for the weekend. To get to his school, you will have to take a longboat which is something bigger than a sampan, powered by an outboard engine up a small river beside this town called Song. It should take around 45 minutes to 1 hour to get to the school right in the middle of the remote jungle – no town, no shops, nothing at all around except perhaps for some isolated longhouses in the distance. There is no telephone communication nor mobile phone coverage and internet access via the school.net is limited and in no way reliable. Thankfully, there is the generator-generated electricity.

I guess such weekend trips to Sibu would be a welcome break even though it only means staying in the house playing Mafia Wars online and sharing whatever simple meals my missus and I would be having at home.

Sibu Express 3

We did go out once to shop for some of his groceries and we stopped for lunch at the Mei Le Cafe not far from my house. These may be stuff that I would take for granted as I can have them anytime I want but to him, it certainly was like a feast! We had roast chicken and duck…

Roast meats 1

Roast meats 2

…and the barbecued ribs, Chinese sausage and char siew

Barbecued ribs

Barbecued Chinese sausage

Char siew

All those plus two plates of chicken rice and complimentary clear soup came up to only RM20.00. Real cheap, don’t you agree? I do not think ah^kam_koko’ could get that in Song, much less in Katibas. He actually asked for another plate of rice! The poor boy must be really deprived and starving up there in the jungle.

When I was in Kanowit, I would come down to Sibu almost every weekend to catch a movie or go to a party or the disco with friends and at least in Kanowit, there is a town…and people! In Katibas, there is absolutely nothing other than the school staff and students with nothing to commune with other than the trees all around and the wild life lurking amongst them. But at least, ah^kam_koko’ seems to take it all in stride and is handling it all pretty well…

Sibu Express 4

A pat on your back, boy, keep up the high spirits…and our door is always open anytime you want to come down to Sibu.

Author: suituapui

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

29 thoughts on “Boats against the current…”

  1. The speed boats does look good. I remembered once I was in one of these during a storm. Man…it was so scary!

    How come suddenly got food? :p

    They’re EXPRESS boats about the size of a Fokker aircraft, not SPEEDboats. There are speedboats taking passengers to towns downriver – like Dalat, for example. Those are definitely smaller and cannot take so many people.

    Well, I’m not named STP for nothing! Food is definitely never far from my mind…and any visitor can be assured that they will eat to their hearts’ content! Ask ahkamkoko – he can verify that! LOL!!!

  2. You should apply for a 1Malaysia grant since your place is a lodging house for teachers on R & R. The govt. has been giving out monies left and right for the 1Malaysia scheme. Over the weekend there were bunches of students from different schools from Kanowit out and about in town, all sponsored by the 1Malaysia scheme. I wonder if they’ll remember to vote for BN when they grow up.

    Not just in Sibu! I hear they send them to towns all over the state…and even to West Malaysia. In Kuching, they put them up at the Grand-Con!!! CHOGM! Nope! Not the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, but actually, Cheap Holiday on Government’s Money…. Gee! And I thought the economy isn’t so good…??? Ya, maybe I should start a B&B. Overseas, these are usually run by old retirees, living on their own… Hahahahahaha!!!!

  3. I remember taking the express when visiting my aunt and uncle who taught in Binatang or was it Belaga (I cannot remember where because I was really small then) with my grandparents.

    My first time to Kanowit was already by land. All the mention of the small town kinda remind me of dabai and durian…Heard my mom said dabai is about RM16 per kg now? I think I will tapao quite a lot back to Kuching this time ’round.

    Yup, right now it’s around RM15 a kg…but dunno by the end of the month. I’m sure you went to Bintangor. Bintangor and Sarikei used to be linked to Sibu by express boats (non-aircon, hot and smoky…and slow….like the ones I had to take to and fro between Sibu and Kanowit) but now that the towns are linked by fairly good roads, the express boats had closed shop!!!

  4. This guy is really great. I think many would have give up already if had to live in the jungle for so long. He is lucky to have generator generated electricity as the government only implemented this policy that every school to have electricity supply two years ago. He will not be so lucky if he is teaching in Sabah. Sabah still not yet get this policy implemented.

    I see. But water is still a problem, I guess… Dependent on rain water and water from the murky river. I really wonder what the rationale is having a school there – after all, they take the kids out of the longhouses to stay in the hostels, not that they stay at home in the longhouses and come to school every day. So they might as well go somewhere nearer to civilisation.

    Ya…I’ve heard of some who would not go and report for duty…some would go for a couple of months and disappear…and some would desperately find all kinds of reasons to get out of the place. Believe me, even in a town (like Sibu, which can be better than a lot of towns elsewhere) school like Sacred Heart (which can be better than any other school anywhere), we have cases like that – the teachers from West Malaysia, mostly!

    1. Agree agree! When I was in Form Six, I kaypoh a few teachers from West Malaysia. They all have nothing to say except complain and complain and complain about Sibu wtf! And after a few months they disappeared 😛

      And I remember there was this male teacher from West Malaysia who had erections during lessons. ROTFLMAO!!! I didn’t know until my classmates told me. Well, I was seated surrounded by guys but I don’t know how they know, unless…they kept staring at his crotch when he taught. BAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

      For one thing, they feel uneasy with the dominant Chinese population – so different from the peninsula. Hardly any Indian and only a handful of Malays and other bumis in the town and the town schools. You mean in SHS? Got such horny male teachers kah? And why would the boys be looking at the guy’s crotch? Never send your son to an all-boys’ school! Hahahahahahaha!!!!

  5. Big clap to the dedicated teachers in ulu Sarawak!

    Ya…I guess you were exposed to similar conditions during your recently-ended two-week stint but I’m sure your situation was not even half as bad!!! So, count your blessings!

  6. Hah! Now I’m craving for roasted chicken rice and Chinese sausage instead of my usual RM 10 pork chap fun for lunch.

    Wow, you’re old skool. My dad was in Kanowit for a couple of years – this was before the road was completed – it used to be gravel (but at least it’s accessible by car) and it takes 1 1/2 hours to get there, not inclusive of the ferry wait.

    RM10 pork chap fan??? *pengsan Comparatively, things are so much cheaper here!

    Ya…I was among the pioneers that started that school and we did not even have the school proper then – squatting with some run-down Chinese primary school. Your dad came later…and under much better conditions.

    Later, there was this rough and tumble gravel road that was so bad that sometimes, I would rather use the express – the only saving grace was the pirate taxi would send me straight to my house in Sibu…

  7. craving for char sio now.. 😉

    You’re still in Kuching? Go…go and eat! Lots around and so very cheap too! Especially when compared to SINgapore! LOL!!!

  8. I’ve never been to sibu. but the chicken rice and char siew looks so yummylicious. the express.. hmm.. will be a nice try! 🙂

    Come! Come! Make a trip over here! You can eat to your heart’s content! Food is cheap here…and you can go on those boats upriver. The “identity” of the rural towns different from the main/bigger ones just as towns in the peninsula are different from the ones here. It would really be an eye-opener and a good experience…

  9. So lucky for him to have you. The next posting should be out next week. They have to report to central for orientation first on the 26th.

    Ya…these are for the local university grads…and I thought it’s quite ridiculous to post them THIS LATE!!! Then they report to the school…and go on holiday – gaji buta till January!!!…Well, I believe that what goes around comes around, so I must be nice to these people and hopefully, wherever my daughter goes, some people will be just as nice to her too! As ye sow, so shall ye reap!

  10. Hello… was on the express to Song and back last week. Nobody informed me it was freezing cold inside! almost burst my bladder holding in my pee since i hate to get up … what an awesome experience.

    Hahahahaha!!! You’re lucky! My time in Kanowit, the express boats were not air-conditioned, extremely loud and we had to put up with the fumes from the engine room. Used to fall sick very often then! Ya…some are rather cold but what I would hate most would be when they have Iban or Hokkien karaoke all the way…and even after you’ve arrived, the songs would be ringing in your ears! LOL!!!

    P.S. Welcome to my blog and do come again. Will add you to my blogroll!

  11. oh… i feel so touch reading about this. teaching is not in my list in the choice of profession, because i know it’s not easy, what more teaching in such a remote area. he deserve a very big pat at the back. i’ve never been to the remote area myself, and i only heard stories from my friends. one was a bit lucky because she could get 1-2 bar phone signals. otherwise she’d gone crazy without having the connection to the outside world. thumbs up to all teachers!

    Ya…another friend of mine posted to a primary school somewhere on the way from Sibu to Dalat can get handphone coverage one bar – on top of his cupboard in his quarters!!! Hahahahahaha!!! At least he can send smses – can’t call unless he climbs on top of the cupboard!!!

  12. Wow the terminal looks new and modern. I have not been to Sarawak seriously not to mention any other parts of sarawak! heheh… I think I have some malaysian places to catch up!

    There was a major facelift in Sibu some years back, so we do have some nice-looking places around. I’m sure you mean “…not to mention any other parts of Malaysia”. Bet you haven’t been to the east coast states and the furthest you’ve gone in Pahang is Genting? Or Tioman? Been to Club Med…or Perhentian? Kedah and Perlis? In comparison, I think I may be a little better off than you even though I’m all the way over here across the sea… LOL!!!

  13. Anybody who is interested in living in the wild & tainting their souls with domesticating orang utans, send me an email.
    I’d be more than glad to have you over for a weekend or even a weekday.

    You can stay in my apartment.
    It’s quite comfortable & clean.
    I’ve got a fridge & water filter.
    I’ve also managed to ship some red & white wine down here.
    Mind you, I carried all of the above on my own back!
    =)

    p/s: Hot chicks will be welcomed with a red carpet!

    Red and white wine?…Drinking to forget? Then the days will not seem so long? LOL!!! I may just take up your offer and appear at your doorstep – and to while away the time (no internet, no hp coverage), I would sit at the back of your class and observe your every lesson and offer my “critical appreciation”! Ha! Bet that would bring some excitement into your life! Hahahahahahaha!!!

    P.S.
    Cambridge will tolerate American colloquial and accept words like guys and gals but will draw a line somewhere. Chicks are what they fry in Kentucky…and birds are those that fly while dish is a plate. Btw, I think “carpet” has a certain connotation as well. You’ve dyed yours red? ROTFLMAO!!!

  14. where got Song so lousy – can find all the delicious BBQ meat and chicken lah. can buy anything too – maybe a bit more expensive. they even have a bank there now. U can choose to go first class or economy class on express boat…i will tell B.i.l abt this blog..hahaha.

    Hahahahahaha!!! Song’s daughter-in-law comes to the defence! I said I did not think he could get BBQ meat, not he could not get – there’s a difference…but I did say definitely not in Katibas. And yes, I heard that they JUST opened a BSN office there…. Gosh!!! At least Kanowit has a couple of banks and not just BSN. And things are expensive as they all come from Sibu even vegetables, I understand! Oh…that guy’s constituency? No wonder….(I refrain from saying anything further that may be taken as evidence against me! LOL!!!)

  15. The food look absolutely good and tasty! And at RM20? Very cheap lah! Looks like I must go to Sibu soon!

    Come! Come!…Food’s cheap and nice. You must let me know and I can take you around to feast on everything! LOL!!!

  16. every year when i go back sibu, i only pass by this new Sibu Express Termina, never go inside and look see look see. I was thinking i must bring my sons for the express boat ride, to the nearest kanowit, for them to experience. hahahahhaha

    Last round when i’m back, i bring them to sit on those wooden boat..they are excited!!

    You know, i’m quite surprise to see those “young teacher” willing to teach in rural area especially in this century. Salute them. 🙂

    I’m afraid there are no more express boats to Kanowit – the nearest town is Song. But you can drive to Kanowit using the Durin Bridge. I’m sure your kids will love the place – small town, very pleasant and peaceful. I always have a soft spot for Kanowit – my first posting as a teacher.

    I guess many teachers are forced to serve in the rural areas – forced to do so by virtue of their posting (good or bad luck)…but the difference is in the attitude, whether they are positive about it or negative. But then again, the teachers in the town schools are pretty much the same – most are negative, just wait for pay day and very few are dedicated and positive. Really sad, really very sad!

  17. Wow, so cheap? Here, SIN$10.00 can’t eat much of it…

    Not surprised. Many years ago, went out with my missus and girl for breakfast and SIN$20 not enough for drinks and some noodle dish each…but that was in the Orchard area food court – I guess everything extra expensive there. Here, around RM10 enough already…even today.

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