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The Misses Bibby


THEIR WANDERINGS ALONG THE EAST COAST AND THEIR ADVENTURES IN KELANTAN

The Straits Times 19 March 1897

The Misses Edie and Nellie Bibby, the charming daughters of the veteran Manager of the Raub Mines, are the heroines of a record breaking adventure. Ever since the beginning of January, they have been meandering along the eastern coast of the Peninsula; and they are the very first Anglo-Saxon daughters of Eve who have been seen by their duskier sisters in Kelantan.

These two young ladies did not keep a diary, as most young ladies are supposed to do; but they retained enough in their heads to spin an interesting story to a representative of the Straits Times this morning. Or rather, one of them, Miss Nellie, did. Miss Edie was not yet visible at the hour of the pressman’s call, but she occasionally helped her sister out with dates from the other side of the screen door of their apartment in the Raffles Hotel. Mr. Bibby dropped in during the conversation, and here and there put in a little gentle chaff, in which it is the privilege of fathers, though never of sweethearts, to indulge.

We started, said Miss Nellie, on the first Friday in January on the Perdana, and we reached Kuala Pahang the next morning. We stayed there a night, and went on the next morning to Kuala Kuantan. Here, we left the Perdana, and went up with our brother to Semalimbing, two days journey up the river.

“And how did you like the journey?” [Reporter]

It was not very comfortable in a Malay boat all the time. We slept, of course, just as we were. But the weather was lovely. On the second day, we stopped at Jeram Batang, and, from there walked across half a mile to Semalimbing, and then commenced our journey down the river. We had to shoot a number of rapids coming down.

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“And, I suppose, your heart was in your mouth once or twice?” (Reporter)

Yes, but the boatmen took us over splendidly. It only took a day to go down the river, and, at Kuala Kuantan, we rejoined the Pardona, and went on to Chuki.

“Where’s Chuki?” [Reporter]

Chuki is in Kemaman, which is ruled by a Rajah as deputy for the Sultan of Trigganu. Chuki is a Malay village; there is not a single European there. The captain or the Perdana, who was always very kind to us, took us to the village, and we were entertained by the Rajah’s wife. She was very courteous. She offered us cakes and refreshments; a lot of Malay women sang, and there was a little band which went on all the time. When we left there, we rowed in an open boat along the coast till we came to Goolighar, where the Bundi Tin Mine Company’s godown is. We stayed there a night, and left in a little river boat to go up to the tin mines at Bundi. It took two days to go up that river, but it was a lovely trip. At last, we arrived at Vanhoo, about three miles from Bundi, and then we landed and went up to the mines by tramway. Here, we stayed for six weeks with our brother and sister.

“And what did you do all of that time?” [Reporter]

Oh, there was not very much to do. We walked about the place. There was a murder committed about a mile from our house while we were there.

Yes, interpolated Mr. Bibby, it’s a great resort for cut-throats and murderers, generally.

Then, continued Miss Bibby, came the return journey. When we got to the mouth of the river, we took a little boat, and started out to sea to go to Kuala Kuantan. It was a very little boat; we could not sit upright in it. We got to Kuantan about the fifth or sixth of March, and we stayed in the Pahang Corporation bungalow. We were all alone there, except for the boy.



Then, when the Perdona arrived, we started for Tringganu. We stayed off Kelantan two days.

One morning, a Malay came aboard, and he brought with him about a dozen Malay ladies, who were most curious about us. They had never seen a white woman before, and they wanted to know how we kept our selves white. They pulled us to pieces almost in curiosity. They sat on board all the morning admiring us. They took our hats off to see how we did up our hair, and smoothed our arms and fingers. One of them wanted one of my fingers, and another took off my shoes.

And……..? asked the enquiring pater. [William intervenes]

Oh, no, said Miss Bibby, I would not let them do that.

“And what do you think of the ladies of Tringganu?” [Reporter]

I think they are very nice; far better looking than the ladies in Pahang. They were very courteous and kind in spite of the curiosity. We started for home after staying there, as I said, two days, and we got back to Singapore on Wednesday afternoon.”‘In time for the St. Patrick’s dance”, remarked Mr. Bibby, with a twinkle in his eye. “I believe you made all your calculations upon that. Were you not afraid of some Rajah running away with you all of the time? It’s very risky, indeed. It’s not a proper thing for two young unprotected females to go gallivanting about the Native States.

Good gracious! What else are we to do?

“Well, Miss Bibby, I hope you both enjoyed yourselves?”  [Reporter]

Yes, we did. If we had some young person to accompany us and take us about, we would have gone about more.

“No doubt, when the Misses Bibby again take it into their heads to wander, there will be a host of eager aspirants for the honour of conducting them!”