Wednesday, September 15, 2021

To school by sea ( Malaysia Day article #14)

A coastal launch typical of the 60's is seen entering the Miri river mouth.

Picture credit: Ho Ah Chon, "Sarawak in pictures - 1940's - 70's".

  I have very fond memories of my student days at Tanjong Lobang School in Miri of the 60's.  Coming from a remote fishing village town of Bintulu, some 200 kilometers away from Miri,was something to be lauded about because as prospective students we were firstly selected to study at that premier institution of learning.  Most of the students were picked from the central and northern areas of Sarawak.  I studied there starting in 1967 when it was still called 'Tanjong Lobang School', but later changed to 'college' after the government of the day decided to accept only students studying for Form Four till Upper Six to fill the classes there. 

Aerial view of Miri town  in the 60's
Picture credit: Ho Ah Chon
 Travelling to Miri when the school term begins and back to my hometown for the term holidays would entail travelling by sea.  In those days, travel by sea evoked mixed feelings of adventure,fear, mission, sea sickness and sacrifice. I had to endure these experiences for four years  to get the best education available during those times which money cannot buy.  
The journey meant a full day and night in small coastal launch in heavy seas or moderate waves.  In daylight we could see the endless green coast and sandy beaches, felt the salty sprays brushing our young faces and watched the waves ahead and past us.  In reflection we were indeed fortunate to have survived the ordeal at sea because in the 60's we had little choice in travelling to school since road travel from Bintulu to Miri was non-existent and air travel was too expensive and largely beyond the means of most parents.
My travelling journey at sea to begin the school term or back for holidays would not have happened safely if not for the expertise of the ship's captain. I now feel greatly indebted to those unsung heroes.

Happy Malaysia Day Sarawak!

Aerial view of Bintuulu town in the 60's

Note: This is Article #14 in a series to celebrate Malaysia's national day (Malaysia Day) - 16 Sept  annually)

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