Saturday, December 4, 2010

Life in a time of monsoon

The 25-year old wreck made of cengal

29 November 2010.

Going around Kuala Besut has led me to meetings with really fascinating people. This time, I met a man named Pak Eden. He goes around looking for old, abandoned boats, repairs them and sells them. He prepared five boats for U-Wei's latest movie, Hanyut. He offered to do up a small boat for me, an 25-year old wreck...but a beautiful wreck nonetheless, made of kayu cengal. I might take him up on that offer...who knows it will soon be displayed at my studio!

Later that afternoon we bade goodbye to Lan and Long and headed south to Batu Rakit where Awie's parents and his kids live. We stopped at Penarik, revisiting old haunts and did some waterclolours and pastels. Just some small sketches.

Painting the monsoon has taught me new lessons. I can't look at the landscape like i used to when I was doing the sunrise and sunset. The colours are not the usual.

Sometimes it's wet, no sun. Then, in some cases, like in penarik, it's bright and sunny and you get the colours and contrast and clear forms. I have to do something to show how different the light, colour and ambience are during this monsoon period. Maybe I will show this through the subject matter. I'm not sure yet. For now, I will just go along, observing and painting what I know -- the coconut leaves, the wind, the sounds, the morning activities, the sunrise, the food, the people...There's just too many places and things going on. I'm glad to have my camera to record all these as reference.

By the time we reached Batu Rakit, it was already dark. Awie's daugther is so pretty, she's about Musa's age. But his son, Saiful, is already in Sepang for his berkhatan with his cousin.

In front of Awie's house there stands a pokok rambai which is estimated to be more than 70 years old. In a few days' time, the village people are planning to cut it down. Great, timber for my sculpture! I'm making arrangements for someone to cut the pieces up and with the help of Awie's brother-in-law, we plan to take these back by lorry.

That night, we managed to get Ikan Lembat Salai, a delicacy here in Batu Rakit Darat. It's a seasonal fish, netted among the marshland only during the monsoon season when it's too rough to go out to sea. It's smoked to bring out the great flavours. That's for lunch tomorrow!

We woke up early next day and headed to the Batu Rakit beach to catch the sunrise. This time of the year, you get to see many fishing boats lined up next to each other on the sand -- a holiday for them and their owners. Still, if the weather permits, the brave ones go out to sea.

One of the last remaining British forts built during WW2.
And in the background, our trusty wheels!

The sunrise was cloudy and tiny drops were descending from the sky. You can't really see them but you feel the gentle rain on your skin. It's so cold and grey, and suddenly, the sun appeared! That's how it is here...the weather catches you by surprise and you never know what to expect from one minute to the next.

The locals here are forever grateful for any little bit of sunshine they can get during this period. At least, the clothes will dry. Funny, though, whether it drizzles or rain, you don't see anyone here carrying an umbrella. Nobody minds getting a little wet!

We later visited the famous Pasar Payang and got a batik shirt for a friend and a kain sampin for myself. After that, we went to Merang to do some sketching. The mood there is simply beautiful, especially the sunset during this tengkujuh time.

More photos here.

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