the lost chinese fishing village of perak

by Scribe March. 05, 2009 2007 views

About an hour and a half from Telok Anson, Perak, the village, known locally as Bagan Pasir Laut (Sea sands cove) is neither found on the map of Malaysia, nor on our GPS.

The shot of the leaning tower of Telok Anson was taken around 9pm. The town centre was already quiet with very few people around. Prior to this shot (and others I took), no night shot of this tower was available on the net.

While relatively unknown, it is comparable to Italy's leaning tower of Pisa, which I visited years ago.

At the back of each house on stilts is a jetty for their boat. Although there is a community bathroom facility now, there remains in every home, covered or still in use, a hole in every main room in the village homes: this is the toilet.

There are no police, no hospitals, no postal service apart from a box at the front of the main coffee house. Public service officers are all voluntary. I met a few of the senior fire fighters who albeit their age of over 90 years, still cycle and still believe they can save the village in case of fire, with their water buckets.

The most beautiful temples, floating and on land are very well kept. Like the homes, they are incredibly clean and well stocked. We offered our prayers where we can. Utensils, ancient boards and flags highlight Ming dynasty times. Life-like portraits of ancestors hang in the halls of many homes. These are hand-painted and amazingly eerie to walk by.

Although the villagers speak a dialect of blended hokkien and cantonese, the architecture and a lot of kitchen and outdoor artifacts establish that some of the earliest roots of the villagers come from Guangzhou, China, which I visited last year and thus, was fortunate to be able to draw similarities from empirical evidence.

The villagers are extremely friendly. The first ever fisherwoman in decades of fishing life went out to sea only recently due to a lack of men in the village. Those who were sent to schools and universities outside never returned to the village. Leaving aging fishermen and women, and very young children the majority population.

Leaving many empty homes by the sea for visitors to live in. Visitors like us, that is: if you don't know any one who can bring you in, you won't be able to go in.

I met Indonesians who just arrived from 2-3 months ago, to a week ago. They have been entering via this village for years now and they either stay on and work with the villagers, or just move into an empty house and deal drugs like cocaine and cause a lot of trouble for the voluntary fishermen-made police force.

Food is offered whenever we passed a houseat every 2-story village home. They never lock the doors although they can bolt their main doors (reminiscent of those in Guangzhou), night or day, entire households can just leave with complete peace of mind.

I saw children dancing and playing and bathing in the rain: it was an extraordinary sight!

I am sick at heart that the government knows of this village, but has done very little to help develop it. Many of the seniors have never left the village, neither did their parents, grandparents, great grandparents… great-great-great… who lived there their entire lives, and long, long, long before the Dutch, Portugese, British occupation, Japanese invasion…

I am just grateful to have had the opportunity to explore this magical, long forgotten ancient chinese fishing village that I only ever heard of prior to this visit.

Bagan Pasir Laut (Sea Sands Cove) is a breath-taking, almost magical village complete with friendly folks who will readily invite you into their home for a freshly made tasty snack with tea.

Walking freely around, villagers will greet you and children will follow you till they are bored and allow you to explore at will.

The dogs on this floating fish farm is entirely black and ferocious looking but they are amazingly friendly and adorable once you get to know these excellent swimmers.

The island on the other side is called Long River Cove (Bagan Sungai Long) and is similarly populated with Chinese fishermen, whose ancestors have lived there since the Ching dynasty.

Like the village, this island is also unnamed and unidentified on our maps.

A lover's seat beckons as we made our way towards the hidden village.

Temples with ancient Chinese relics and artifacts are found throughout the island, with Gods of the seas that I have never seen before venturing inside and offering up my prayers.

Inside each temple, is also this unmistakable fishing boat altar for fishermen… not shown here.

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