While it was comfy in the air-cond enclosure, I was wondering of the possible dangers if the boat capsized. No, I was not being negative. Being cooped in also meant that we would miss the opportunity to capture the sceneries as the boat sped through the port area, the kelongs, the wetlands and the stilt houses by the river's edge.
The boat was full, more than half I guessed were local tourists taking advantage of the Merdeka holidays. An Indian family seated across the aisle was making their first visit there too. So were many others. 45mins in the boat, we reached Crab Island. It was low-tide.
Malaysians love to double-park, whether on land or at sea! I had some jittery moments carrying my bike from the bullet boat across onto another boat before I reached solid ground. The small waves created rocked the boat and I almost lost my balance. AND I WAS A SON OF A FISHERMAN!
Man, Crab Island is cycling country....I mean a cycling island. That's the mode of transport, apart from walking.
Little wonder I saw no fat Crab Islanders, in spite of the numerous Fatty Crab restaurants! So, its clean living, no cars and no motorcycles. But trash, hmm...it's still aplenty. I caught one boatman throwing the styrofoam lunchbox in the water, biasa-biasa aje! Just like those on the mainland, we often left the dirty job to Alam Flora. It was similar here. Instead of garbage trucks, Alam Flora used garbage boats.
For RM5, one can rent a bike for a whole day. For those who come "bikeless", this would be an excellent idea to tour the island.
A hotel and a sea-food restaurant (what else) greeted our arrival. We were there for neither the hotel nor the sea-food. It would be a "before buka puasa" ride and no accommodation was required. And we would only "see food". So off we cycled, passing by the main area where you see more hotels and more sea-food outlets and numerous kedai-runcit and stalls selling anything from dried fish to souvenirs.
I was expecting a "classic" Crab Island, with wooden planks as the walk-cum-cycling paths with rows and rows of wooden houses. The wooden houses are still there. The wooden paths were remnants of days gone by. Concrete replaced timber, for obvious reason.
We cycled on, often carefully negotiating the narrow paths with other oncoming cyclists. If you accidentally got your wheel off the path, you and your bike will plunge down a metre (at least) on the muddy ground below. You would hope that the bike would not land on you. Either way and both ways, it would hurt - both the ego and the body!
An elderly couple caught my attention as I made my way past rows of dwellings. They could probably be the first generation of this island. The houses are generally small but enjoyed piped water and electricity. Bicycles are common fixtures of every house but Astro disks are not yet common.
A pink house also caught my attention. Most houses are not gaily painted though and the design is simple. Every house has a terrace before the main hall. The terrace acts as the socialising point as it is open and airy. The main hall comprises the living rooms with the kitchen at the rear.
Since the bicycle is the main mode of transport, I could not help noticing the ingenious ways the locals used discarded items as the "bakul basikal". Very practical and very cheap!
Within about 5 minutes in any direction we took, we would reach the end of the path. So it was almost like a zig-zag ride, a u-turning ride and the occasional stop-for-picture ride. For photographers, there are many excellent photographic opportunities.
Boats (obviously) are pretty good subjects. Here are some samples. Pictures would have been more dramatic in the fading sunlight or early morning. Serious photographers should spend the night on the island to get the best of the scenes.
My cycling buddy, Hj Khailani, being a principal of a school must surely pose in front of a school. Kira tak sah lah kalau tak bergambar depan sekolah. So, for me what will be "sah"? An old folks home????? NO MEH!!!!!
We posed at the Balai Polis. We posed everywhere. Kira posing aje lah. We completed our tour within about an hour and headed back to the jetty. We had decided we would take the open-air boat back to the mainland, scheduled to leave at 5pm to be in time to rush home for breaking fast. This is a disguised tour boat, I supposed as a way to bend the rule and compete with the fast passenger boats. The fare is similar at RM7 and you will enjoy fresh air and enjoy the sceneries as the boat chugged its way to the mainland.
We got a good deal. An excellent view of the river and what it had to offer. Numerous kelongs dotted the river. That by itself is worth an experience, if one is a keen angler.
There were also the anglers who sat patiently on a fishing boat waiting for their big bites. We often hear stories from them about "the big one that got away". Though son of a fisherman, fishing is never my hobby. I cannot play the waiting game too long. But I suppose every hobby has its attraction.
We could capture the bakau wetlands on both sides of the river. Pray that the bakaus will not fall prey to development.
Time was getting a little wee late as we approached the port. The sun was fading fast as we bade farewell to the Crab Island and its populace.
Selamat menyambut Hari Kemerdekaan!