Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Return Trip To Kampung Rajang & Belawai

More pictures taken on my return trip to kampung Rajang and Belawai to share with you all. Above is a covered signage at the entrance to Kampng Rajang fishing village.

This is our very affable and generous host, Merican Bin Zaini. 62 year-old Merican was attached to the Sarikei Customs Department but he opted for early retirement to return to Kampung Rajang where he took up farming and fishing.

Merican is one of the most joyful men I ever met. He possesses very wide knowledge of the local people and their culture and he is never selfish in sharing his knowledge and experiences with visitors. His grandfather, Ah Hui, was a Chinese Hokkien who arrived Kuala Rajang from China more than 120 years ago. Ah Hui married a local Melanau woman and they had several children. According to Merican, his grandfather was a trader but he returned to China leaving the entire family behind.The next morning my host led me to the Chinese cementary supposedly located near the present Malay cementary at Kuala Rajang but unfortunately our efforts to find the old Chinese tombs were unsuccessful. The whole place has been heavily encroached by thick undergrowth. But Merican promised he would return to find the tombs again. Apparently a once thriving port at Kuala Rajang has also been forever lost during the process of development and modernization. Many local people are also talking about the many stones brought there by the early Chinese traders. We did not find any, again these precious evidence of the past seemed to have been burried deep in the sand and mud along the bank at the mouth of the Rajang River.

Merican's house which is built on stilt, is located at Jalan Dewan where the clinic,the new mosque and the Songket Centre are just a stone throw away. The 6-room timber house is spacious and comfortable for our group of 11 people to stay a night. It was so heartening to see his many beautiful and very well behaved grand children thronging us when we were inside the house.The wife, son, daughters and son in-laws were all there to serve us unreservedly.



This 6-kg creature just ran into Merican's farm hut one day and it has been the children's favourite pet ever since. They suspect the cat, which could have been brought in by the Thai fishermen, had gone astray after the boat departed.

This is Borneo's version of the plum. The fruit tree grows wild at the back of the farm hut. Merican now cultivates several acres of sugar cane and pineapple . When we arrived at his farm, he proudly served us bottles of chilled sugar cane drink. The two large ponds for rearing tiger prawn had been left vacant since last July due to poor demand.
Much of the undeveloped swampy area of Kuala Rajang is still infested by nipah palms and mangrove trees. And surviving in the wet land and rivers within these lowland forests are many species of crabs,snails and prawns. Our host's son (above) was kind enough to harvest a bunch of nipah fruit and cut open some fruits to show us how exactly they look inside. In his right palm was a handful of edible snails which he collected from the nipah trees.

This trip we also visited a private home whose owner is actively involved in weaving the Songket. The hand woven textile below is simply fantastic. It can fetch RM800 in the market and demand is good.

During the first trip I didn't manage to see the Tg. Manis Airport.So it was a must to visit the place this time.The airport was declared open by Sarawak's Chief Minister on September 14, 2001. It has since been upgraded and the runway extended to allow the landing and take off of small private jets.Currently however, Maswings aircrafts only service the Tg.Manis-Kuching-Tg. Manis sector on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

In the evening we rushed to Belawai fishing village to see the villagers manually processing the prawns to smoke and turned them into the much sought after dried prawn. All the workers were women, some of them probably hard working young students making some extra pocket money during their free time.


After the shells had been removed, the fresh of the prawns were cleaned and then arranged in neat rows on a rattan tray. They were then ready to be smoked over the fire.It is tedious and time consuming work with little pay.

I ran out to the beach when I noticed these two boys playing somersaults in the shallow water. But, alas, before I could take some more satisfactory shots, their mothers came chasing them home.

The picture below was taken at another beach earlier in the afternoon. The nibong tree trunks were planted on the beach to prevent erosion. Capturing them standing silhouetted against the cloudy late afternoon sky was indeed delightful.
The following sunset pictures were taken at the beach at Belawai fishing village. Happy viewing!






21 comments:

James TC Wong said...

So beautiful sunset photos you took, Philip! Wow, I like them! xD

Anonymous said...

I am as curious as the cat man! Do Thai fishing boats actually come here to fish???..into Sarawak waters and fishing villages??? Shocking.kpenyu

Philip said...

James:That make me want to go back again, perhaps around June/July when the sky is expected to be blue and clear and the sun round and red hot.Thanks Brother.

Kpenyu:They come with cats to steal our fish?

suituapui said...

Beautiful photos. Time you publish a book featuring scenic views of the state or places in and around Sibu...

Nelson said...

you will see thai fishing boats in tanjung manis with different design as compared to local ones. I think those are licensed foreign fisherman though there are many illegals ones. Ting Phek Khiing did say about building a bridge from sarikei to tj manis, how I wish it will be built so that sarikei is not left out with the future 'mega' developments of tj manis under SCORE. by the way, did u visit the other part of tanjung manis across rejang river? the town-by-itself of Rimbunan Hijau's sawmills etc. Trading was the main thing in Tj. Manis. I used to buy super nice sporty bicycles from Japan(those Shimanos) at tanjung manis through some agents(smuggling was rampant then). I heard that until now, you still buy a lot of never-to-be-seen stuffs like russian night vision binoculars and even real guns from those foreign ships and even fishermanboats. It's a secret shopping heaven.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting photos. Make me want to visit Belawai and the Rejang River mouth.

How do we get there from Sibu?

Hardy said...

Beautiful sets of photos my friend. I think I will go there someday....especially for the sunset view...

Philip said...

Nelson: I had visited the opposite side of Tg. Manis several times some time ago. Nothing much except the huge wood based factories and warehouses. I agree with you Sarikei, being so near to Tg. Manis, should participate meaningfully and benefit from the SCORE projects.

anon: It's easy and quite convenient to visit Tg. Manis and its surrounding areas now.Drive your own car or board a bus to Sarikei
(1 hour/RM7.60 one way))The Borneo Bus stationed near the Rajang Esplanade leaves every half an hour in the morning. From Sarikei, take an express boat (almost every hourly until 4.30pm) at the wharf to Tg. Manis and it takes you another hour.(RM9.00 one way) At Tg. Manis wharf you can reach your destinations of Kuala Rajang, Jerijeh or Belawai by van or truck. If you are not chartering a van/truck, you pay as little as RM4.00 per way to these destinations.The other alternative is use the 11.30am Sibu-Kuching express boat which is stopping at Tg. Manis.(RM25 one way)You can also use this service on the return journey the next morning (also around 11.30am) when the boat is making its Kuching-Sibu trip.

Hardy: We will definately go again for the sunset shots and you are welcome to join us.

Philip said...

stp: I have that in mind, but now have to take many many photos first.Thanks for your encouragement.

-eiling- said...

I like the last few pictures taken at the beach at Belawai fishing village. The colours are very nice!

Philip said...

eiling:Thanks. To have a model like you in the foreground will make the pictures even nicer!

Lili Que said...

wow ...nice ...nexttime ...bring me ...heheh ..

Philip said...

Lili: Can bring you there any time to eat fresh seafood and experience nice kampung life.

Anak Rajang said...

That's my uncle...Usu Merikan. Do visit my blog-kampungrajang.blogspot.com. Thanks

Philip said...

Anak Rajang: Hi hi, nice meeting you here. Great to know that Merikan is your uncle. Hope we will all meet up one day in Kampung Rajang.Where do you get all those old photos in your blog?

Anak Rajang said...

From my own,mom's,dad's,uncles'aunts,cousins,relatives and more :-) Oh ya..i extracted this posting to my blog. Would that be ok?

Philip said...

Anak Rajang: Those are very valuable photos with historical values. Keep them properly.It is ok to re-post my article on your blog. Have a nice weekend.

anak belawai said...

tq for the nice picture
proud to belawaian
:)

Philip said...

Hi, thanks for dropping by again. Are you the same anak belawai who posted comments here before? How is your uncle Merikan?

adela said...

It's has been ages I want to leave some comment here. OMG. How I wish I have your magical fingers. You show the wonderful side of every single thing you captured on every single photo for heaven sake. Hihihi. Really.

Anyways, thanks for the great reviews about my kampung, Belawai. Appreciates that. =)

Philip said...

adela:Thanks a lot for commenting. I am so happy that you like the pictures. Haha, I have no magical fingers...just that the nice sceneries were there and I was there with a camera to capture them!