Thursday, December 2, 2010

From Besut to Bachok

Pok Seng

After our harrowing journey from Pulau Perhentian Kecil, we made our base in Kuala Besut for a couple of days.

At the jetty, I took some photos of the place -- fishermen were repairing nets, some were just lepaking, the boats were bobbing quietly against each other...

One particular man caught my eye. An old Chinese fellow, probably in his 80s. As he walked around the area, it seemed like everybody knew him. I found out that he was an anak jati terengganu, having spent some time in batu rakit since 1947 and later moved to Kuala Besut in 1949. He works repairing boats and engines. His name was Pok Seng, and, boy, could he tell stories of Kuala Besut -- its history, the events that happened here.

According to him, in those days, there were no fancy technologies for fishermen to depend on. They only had their skills and simple observations of nature to rely on. Before going out to sea, they would literally "read" the signs in the air and the water. For example, the presence of many dragonflies foretold of the coming monsoon. Or counting the number of waves would reveal the exact moment to cut through the water to get to the rivermouth. And looking or putting their ears to the surface of the waters would enable them to identify what fish lay beneath.

He was quite a character!

An Abdullah Badawi lookalike

At noon, we had nasi kampung with ayam kampung goreng and the ulam-ulam that we brought with us. The day before, we had gulai itek, ikan keli masak lemak, ikan singgam, ikan tawar, budu ikan perkasam and lots of ulam. Delicious!After lunch I went to Tok Bali and to my surprise I saw the signboard to Bachok and Melawi. I didn't realise how close Bachok was to Kuala Besut. I used to live in Jelawat, Bachok, many years back in 1975 when I was in my mid-teens, with my eldest sister who was teaching in one of the schools there.

Monsoon in Melawi

So I re-visited the house we used to stay in and the beaches of Bachok, Pantai Irama. It has chaged so much. Pantai Irama used to be so clean and quiet -- I would go there almost every week. I realise now why I like to paint scenes of the beach and the sea. It has got something to do with my past experience there. Oh, but now, the beach is so dirty.

One of the specialities in Tok Bali is the pulut with ikan tawar (grilled ikan selayang). Very nice, but not good for me!

Boats at Tok Bali

More pictures here.

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