MY - Palau Sibu
Sunset [img src=http://www.bendfeldt-cheung.com/wp-content/flagallery/my-palau-sibu/thumbs/thumbs_20100307-_dsc2192.jpg]
Fishing at night [img src=http://www.bendfeldt-cheung.com/wp-content/flagallery/my-palau-sibu/thumbs/thumbs_20100307-_dsc2193.jpg]
Starting before sunrise [img src=http://www.bendfeldt-cheung.com/wp-content/flagallery/my-palau-sibu/thumbs/thumbs_20100307-_dsc2292.jpg]
Experiencing life at Kelong in Palau Sibu, Malaysia
After about half an hour on the speedboat from jetty Tanjong Leman, Johor, Malaysia, a primitive yet picturesque village appeared in the middle of the sea, before my eyes. Time for snapping photos.
This type of sea village is called a “Kelong”. Kelong, a Malay word, is an offshore platform built by the fishermen primarily for fishing. They can be found mainly in Indonesia, Malaysia, and The Philippines. Fishermen and their families live here.
For the past 10-15 years the area of Palau Sibu has been overfished and I can hardly see any fishermen for mass-fishing around. Kelong families transformed their places into “sea resorts” attracting mainly anglers.
The price for renting equipment is very reasonable. No doubt fishing enthusiasts keep baiting the hooks, casting the lines, and spinning the reels all day long.
Wing Sing, the Kelong we picked, can accommodate about a hundred guests, with 6-7 shared bathrooms. Unlike any typical hotel resort, it is arranged in an open concept; many of the double-decker beds are put right next to each other. If the whole kelong had been full, some of us might have had to sleep beside a stranger.
A karaoke room also for movies or telly; dining quarters; mahjong or card games for rental; kitchen and chefs preparing us four meals, tasty Malay dishes, per day; clothes and fishes hanging to dry around…life at Kelong is messy yet photogenic.
We joined an island hopping trip, landing on a white sandy beach, swimming and snorkelling. Alas, I could not see any fishes or coral reef. During Northwest monsoon season, normally from November until March, the water is not clear enough for diving or snorkelling.
When the sun was sinking, anglers set out for a night’s fishing. With millions of stars glimmering above the sky, green and yellow nightlights illuminating below the sea, they became more active. I caught another photographic fever, which was then cooled down by the night snack and dessert at 10pm.
The sound of the power generator slowly faded in my mind. It was a short rest. Still dark, I was then woken by the anglers who prepared for their first catch. So I was able to see the sunrise, with rays beaming through the clouds and enjoy the fresh, cool morning breeze from The South China Sea. The breakfast was a bit too greasy, though.
Kelongs are, apparently, diminishing due to overfishing or urbanisation. I am lucky to see and experience the life there before they are all gone.