Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Just when you think life is all about routines and schedules, just take trip to Pulau Ketam (Crab Island in English) which is situated at the other end of Selangor. Take my word for it, this is one trip that's worth your time and soul.
It's been a long time coming this one. Me and my ultimate gamer friend Hafiz had planned this trip for a very long time and finally got our heads together to go last Saturday. It's usually the last minute plans that works for me, I just don't know why.
Quite surprisingly, not everyone knows the existence of this island here. Which adds an air of mystery even more to this little place.
We decided to start early (what with the unpredictable weather and all), as early as 8.30am and instead of driving to Port Klang like we would to any other place, we decided to throw ourselves out there with the locals. That means, ditching the car at KL Sentral parking lot, take the KTM train to Port Klang and the speed boat from the jetty to the island.
I always believe to get the best stories, one should be a part of the society, which means taking the public transportation. Taxis, buses, trains, .. you name it. These are gold mines for great inspirations!
KTM ticket from KL Sentral to Port Klang is RM8.60 per way and it takes about an hour to reach to the last station (depending on the train speed, it's inconsistent).
Be prepared to stand because every train is usually pack with passengers. On average it's pretty cool inside, unless if the air condition is down .. that's not going to be a pleasant ride. While we were inside, I was happy to see many of the passengers were reading to kill the time. There were many printed materials on the panels for one to read too. Jokes were among the most common one you'll find in the train.
When we arrived at Port Klang, armed with very little information about our destination, we came up with a strategy - to follow this particular traveler who we assumed was also going to Pulau Ketam. Hafiz who did his research prior to this trip had mentioned that on average, there are many photographers who visit the island for some photography sessions. I guess last Saturday wasn't in their plans.
Soon as we got out of the station, we saw this building with big sign "Jeti Pulau Ketam" and immediately headed for it. Much to our chagrin, that wasn't the place we were suppose to take the speedboat/ferry to the island. We managed to ask one of the lady staff and she instructed us to walk on the other side where the actual jetty is located.
So here's how you get to the jetty from the train station:
As you walk out of the train station, turn right where you'll see an empty land with blue panels blocking the sea view. Keep walking until you'll see an opening/entrance with the ferry/speed boat sign board. Then make a left into the entrance and go straight ahead. Voila!
Apparently there are two ways to get to the island, you get to choose either a speed boat which takes 30 minutes to arrive for RM7 per way or the ferry. And the boat ride ends at 6pm on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays; 4pm on weekdays.
No worries as the attendants are friendly and the seats inside are comfortable. You could even watch WWE matches throughout the journey. Along the way, you'll see many fishing boats, villages and mangroves. Something you won't see while you're in the city, that's for sure.
The salty air is one that you have to get used to and when you do, in an instant the air smells like normal. So for the very sensitive nose, this one can be a challenge for you but hey, it's au-naturale. Can't beat that!
When I found out that photographers who visit this island love to take black and white photos, it just doesn't register in my mind. Why? Because everything about this island is just so colourful. It's vibrant colours from one person to the other, one house to another. So it makes more sense to capture the lively spirit in it's original state.
Oh yeah, besides walking, your only other mode of transportation here is bicycle. That's RM5 per bike for rental :) But we preferred walking, just because we wanted to experience this area without missing a spot. Besides that, you might wonder if there were crabs around the island since it's named after this creature and I'm glad to say yes, they were crawling sideways everywhere on the sand. Heck, I got to see salamanders crawling too. Not too excited for that one actually. :/
I love the wind. It was breezy. It was also hot. But not as humid. Or maybe I was to stoked about being in the island for the first time? You'll be the judge of it when you get there.
If you feel like staying for the night or more, there's only one hotel called Sea Lion waiting for your presence. And it's just a short walk from the jetty. About 2-3minutes? If you're a fast walker, you could even do it under one minute :)
Only been there for a few minutes and I already loved the things I experienced. Not only was this island quaint and charming, it's full of character. You can find good food (naturally) here, that is a sure thing.
Don't forget to bring long lenses as well, you might never know when it comes handy. Actually you'll need at least two types of lenses, then you'll be satisfied with what you capture.
As we walked deeper inside, we discovered the many little things that were not around in the city anymore. Those old school junk food I used to buy when I was a kid can be found here. Such a joy! I was ecstatic to find my childhood chewing gum, Marukawa's Fusen Gum, that still costs 10 sen per piece, fish/prawn crackers and fried ice cream :) It's like a mini food land here.
Cheap yet very good food land.
You might be surprised when you enter the island, it seem quiet and lonely but when you get to the market, you'll find the rest of the population hanging around there. I cannot stressed out how friendly these people were while we were there. It didn't feel like a Malaysian thing (sue me for saying this but I've always grown up knowing the unfriendly people) and suddenly it felt effortless to put on a smile or say hello. In fact, you can wave all you want too. Which I did and was reciprocated :) Hey, I really like it here.
If there's one thing I could say to describe Pulau Ketam is that, it's a kampung life, a much more basic (not to mention super bright) kampung life than the ones on other parts of the country. How basic is basic? I realised as we were walking along the path, many houses didn't have big furniture like sofa or coffee table. There's cabinet but I think that's one of the necessity ones. Then I wondered why and figured it's probably due to the fact that it's hard to bring it in. It could get to the jetty but the rest of the way, you're on your own carrying it in the narrow streets.
Besides these things only takes up more space and it'll only feel crowded for them. Therefore, they apply the minimalist concept, which I highly agree. For convenient sake, that is.
As we were exploring, we found a few attractions that one could never missed out on. There's a Buddhist temple and a very pretty police station with mountain bikes parking outside. It's possibly the prettiest police station we've ever seen. For the Muslim, the surau is called Balai Islam (I initially thought it was some Muslim station) when it's a community hall instead. So I learned something new.
From my observation, I find that the community here are very tight. Just about everything in this island involves the community. They were the ones painting the buddhist temple garden or have a chess club for people to play.
Now, that's one thing the city lacks and could learn from. I'm pretty sure everyone knows everybody here too.
It was so easy to be ourselves and take in the peaceful mood Pulau Ketam exuded. The docks were available for anyone to chill out and simply experience how simply life could be. That was what I learned from this trip. To simplify our life is to know what's essential and what's not. In reality, we could do so much without the things we have now but because we were so consumed with materials in this world, many a times we are blinded by it.
I love when a place I go strips down my belief to it's core and show me the importance in living. And I like it the way Pulau Ketam is; secluded, mysterious and charming all wrapped in one. I wouldn't want it any other way, and hopefully it will remain the way it is.
I thought I've seen it all while I was in Delhi with a small motor vehicle crammed with half dozen people. I didn't know we have our own version of acrobats too! ;) Amazing eh?
As we walked further inside, we were welcomed with an array of dried fish. I've not seen this one before, I mean the process. I'm so used to the after product that it didn't occur to me to know how it looks like before it was fully dried. The smell was overwhelming the first few seconds, and then eventually I got used to it.
It is a kampung life this one.
But we could only do so much walking for 3.5 hours that we needed to get something to eat. And behold, the best seafood in Selangor..well one of them. I like to believe to enjoy the best crabs, one should go to the island of crabs to be feasted :P So yes!
This chili crab is 1kg for RM40! Ours was RM48 for the extra weight. Look at that! I'm drooling as it is. Bah! For that price, you can't get it anywhere else in the city. Yeah baby!
We wanted to order deep fried battered squid and butter prawns but..we decided to devote our life to the crabs instead. And wouldn't you know it, Fish gave up 1/3 of the way. Thank god I'm a massive crabs fan (especially since I don't have my braces on anymore)..so I managed to wipe it clean for the two of us! That was some hearty meal alright. Possibly the best. It's just finger lickin' goooood.
Thankfully, we still have space for dessert and I promised that we would eat the fried ice cream before we head out back to reality. So we did!
If you grew up to Japanese comic Doraemon, you might recognise the look of the fried ice cream looking like Dorayaki. Only instead of red bean paste, it's ice cream :) It's just yummy! While walking back to the jetty, we managed to witness people unloading things from the boats.
To watch them work with smiles on the face as they sing song or make jokes was a breath of fresh air to me. I'd love to apply that to whatever I do. It shows the spirit they have and it was such a precious moment to capture.
On the way back to the train station, we found a lady selling fresh steamed corns :) Oh yes, this has always been one of my favourite street food to purchase. I grew up going to night markets for this! And now, after so many years, I finally get to relive it. Walking while indulging in the sweetness of the corn. Yeah, the perfect end to our trip indeed.
I love every minute of it.