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Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Sights of Pulau Ketam

How did you spend National Day? Dad went to Pulau Ketam for outdoor painting with some of the art teachers and students of Art Specialist Klang, Art Speciallist Millennium Bukit Tinggi, Masean Kajang, and Masean Setapak. Mum, Minyi, and I tagged along with him. Before going I knew I would be embarassing myself - I expected myself to be the only one who doesn't draw.

Anyway, we set off early in the morning. We reached Port Klang, and after a bit of sightseeing (AKA waiting) we boarded a ferry left for Pulau Ketam. Long gone were the days when we take open-air boats for transport between the mainland and the island. Most people now take air-conditioned ferries, what a shame.

Sight of Port Klang.

Upon reaching Pulau Ketam, it was low tide hour and nobody failed to notice the amount of crabs in the mud.

Pulau Ketam jetty.

What are we supposed to be seeing here? Hang on... what are the block spots on the mud?

A close up of the photo above. Holy crabs!

It's no wonder they call the place Pulau Ketam, which means Crab Island in Malay.

We then walked to a small wooden house lent to us by a relative of dad's (or mine XD). Being born in Pulau Ketam, dad naturally knew many of the residents there. He greeted people every few minutes in Teochew, which makes the place rather homelike. In Klang the Chinese speak Hokkien, and Cantonese in KL. I'm rather stressed having to understand all these three dialects besides the regular Mandarin, English, and Malay. Not to mention Matlab, C++, assembly language, VB...

Dad used to live in this house before he migrated to Klang. This is the only place in Pulau Ketam I've ever seen my relatives at. Mum says dad's room was upstairs. The house is built right across the Pulau Ketam main road.

Pulau Ketam is a swampy island. It's swampy and muddy everywhere, and all the roads are elevated a few feet from the ground (to allow the water to rise during high tide), normally made in wood (for smaller paths) or cement (main road). It's not that easy to get lost in Pulau Ketam, as long as you stick to the main road. The main road stretches from the Pulau Ketam jetty to the other end of the village. Motorcycles and motorcars are not allowed in the island, hence the villagers rely on bikes and boats to move around.

The villagers there riding on bikes. It is common sense to stay on the left of the road as to allow bikers to overtake you, regardless of whether you're on foot or on bike.

We walked around the island for a while. The town centre consists of shops distributed across two roads. During public holidays these roads would be crowded with tourists. Most of these shops are restaurants.

The town centre in the evening.

One thing you should be careful is that there are many dogs in Pulau Ketam. I thought we were supposed to expect cats in a fishing village. But then again, maybe dogs were brought in to get rid of the cats. The problem is not with the dogs being fierce to the people, but they aren't er, potty trained. I thought I was unlucky enough to step on a trap once, until one of us got it three times in two days. Dog shit is practically everywhere, it's not uncommon to see piles of them lying just inches away from each other. That place should be called Crap Island after all.

After a bit of chatting and rest, we (or rather, they) went out for a bit of painting. Dad strayed into one of the little paths, settled down, and started drawing. Well, seeing the fact that I don't draw, mum took dad's camera and gave me a bit of guiding at photography. Please take note that none of us are photographers, but mum knows which scenes to snap, while I know the camera better than most people of my age, so we make a rather good team.

Dad working on his acryllic painting on a wooden path.

There are many beautiful scenes in Pulau Ketam. I wondered how funny mum and I looked, pointing the camera and shooting aggressively at almost anything at all.

The many things owned by a villager.

But not everything is candy and lollipop in Pulau Ketam. For some reasons the villagers there are rather unethical at managing their garbage. They just discard everything out of the elevated platforms into the sea, river, or swamp. This caused eyesores among the beautiful and peaceful fishing village.

Trash! Taken few feet away from the spot where dad was painting.

More trash! Wallpaper, anyone?

Trash is just anywhere! In fact, walking along the main road and you'll be surprised to find rubbish bin only at two spots - beside the police station and near the jetty. Oh, yes, they do have a police station. And stop asking whether they have cellphone reception - cellphones work fine there!

Well, anyway, back to the photo shooting. I was quite surprised that mum and I managed to come off with a few fantastic snaps before dinner. Some of them looked so good that I couldn't believe just how much a simple point-and-shoot camera could do.

A fishing boat.

A speedboat erm, speeding through the main river between two long rows of fishing boats.

The sun was setting.

The golden last ray of the sun.

Nice contrast. It would be better if the man on the picture were to lean back. That way the sunset rays would lay upon his torso and face, upgrading this picture with better lighting.

Pulau Ketam is inhabited mainly by Chinese. However, there is also a very small number of Malays, which relocated to the island mainly because of their jobs as government officers. There is a significant number of indigenous people, or what we call Orang Utan Asli. One of dad's relatives told mum and me that despite their status as Bumiputras, they got as much financial support from the government as Chinese fishers do. These people aren't high fliers, and they just want a simple life. Most of them borrow speedboats from Chinese traders to fish, and in return they sell all of their catch to the traders. You can try to offer higher price for their fish, but good luck trying, as they're very loyal to their traders.

Pulau Ketam indigeous people. It took me numerous attempts to get this photo, and I'm not really satisfied yet.

When the night got darker we went back to our place, before setting out for dinner. Along the way I couldn't resist the beautiful sights of the island and shot a few more times.

Along the way to dad's friend's seafood restaurant. The telephone and power cables are annoying - they seem to fit in here, but it's often hard to translate these things into beautiful elements in a work of art. Mum frequently omit things like these in her paintings.

The food there was good. The fish are juicy and tender, the prawns are sweet, and oh, the crabs so good.

After the meal, we went back to the house, where they talked about the paintings they drew that day.

The paintings. Mum's is the one at the bottom left corner, leaning against the cabinet, featuring a boat. Dad's beside mum's. The small picture on top of dad's is another of mum's, and Minyi drew the one to the right of mum's smaller picture.

We then went to bed after much discussion. Mum and I went to stay for the night at a hotel owned by another of dad's friends. I know I'm talking as if my dad knows every villagers of Pulau Ketam, but the truth is most people in Pulau Ketam knows most others, seeing the size of their population and that they have nowhere to go in the island. They are very friendly too - one of the boys joined us in most of our activities and played with the youngest of us.

The boy taking photo with one of our teachers. The two became good friends after the latter gave a bit of food and living advices to the former.

We woke up before dawn in the morning, and took a boat for a bit of a tour around the island. The boat belongs to dad's friend (again).

Sundawn from the boat. Nice reflection, huh? Stupid cables! Why can't you be something like coconut or palm trees for a change?

Further out to the sea. Beautiful waves, beautiful boats, beautiful sky, beautiful clouds.

The fishing village at dawn. Nice ripples, huh?

The driver (er?) of the boat even took us to some of the Orang Asli villages.

An Orang Asli hut. Built in the middle of the sea, the only way to move around is by boat. It is protected from waves and currents by the trees around it.

Our chauffeur even had the courtesy to bring us to the saltwater fish farm. It is basically a floating structure, with no parts touching the bottom of the sea. Empty barrels are used to support the weight. Nets are used to trap fish between the structures of the farm. We spotted a dog trapped in one of the many spaces, and one of us rescued the poor canine.

The fish farm. Spot the dog!

Fish feeding. Feeding fish. Fish feeding by feeding fish with fish feed. The fish are feeding on the fish feed during the fish feeding session.

I'm not sure what they were doing, but somehow I know this is how fish harvesting looks like.

After the unforgettable journey on the boat, we went back to the island for breakfast.

Rows and rows of boats on the way back.

On the journey back to the island. Walk the plank!!!

Klang is famous for Bah Kut Teh. In Pulau Ketam, the smell of their Bah Kut Teh is very similar to that of Klang, seeing the fact that the two are in close proximity of each other. However, they sell something different, called Seafood Bah Kut Teh here. I didn't have chance to try it though. Three other famous delicacies here are Fried Lala (拉拉煎, dunno how to translate that to English, but a must-try dish of Pulau Ketam), Teochew mooncake (flat piece of cookie, harder than regular mooncakes but much less sweeter - I love it!), and fried ice cream (ice cream wrapped inside a layer of dough and then deep fried). The village boy is munching on a piece of fried ice cream in the picture shown previously.

Me after my breakfast. Not a very good picture, but then I didn't snap this.

Then we packed our things and went back to Port Klang. During the journey, Minyi dropped (accidentally, I presume) one of her shoes into the sea, and had to move around half-bare-footed. Then we took a train from Port Klang back to Klang.

We are advised to have tickets, which means it is OK for us not to heed the advice?

After spending more than one day in Pulau Ketam, I have to say I'm quite impressed of the carefree and relaxing life of the village, and also the beautiful sights of the island. However, I can see why my dad prefers Cameron Highlands over Pulau Ketam - the villagers need to learn to take care of their garbage the proper way, not to mention the need to potty train the dogs there.

I love fish though. Fish in the dishes, I mean. Some people say "fish are friends family, not food", but oh well...


  1. yep. the sunset pictures are nice.

    minyi dropped her shoe....
    knew somethin lidat would happen.

    pulau ketam suddenly sounds fun now o.o
    but the boats where you stand by the railing and feel the wind blow and see the water rush by were nice...

  2. yeah. i thought i wouldn't have chance to experience that again until dad managed to get his friend to give us a ride in his boat.

    actually i think the old open air boats are still used to ferry people between the mainland and the island, we just need to look for the company that manages it. somehow people prefers the air-conded ferries.

  3. nice pics, nice place.

    I think i have been there when i was young. I remember children as young as 12 years old driving motorcycle.

    Did my memory fail me?
    Confirm it for me lol.

  4. well, in villages there seem to be no age limit to drive a motorcycle

    however, motorcycles are banned in Pulau Ketam. how long ago? if it was more than 10 years ago, it may be true. the ban was introduced not too long ago. or so according to my dad


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