Thursday, August 24, 2017

Fired up over Tanjung Api

This piece was eventually translated into a large painting.

FLANKING the Pahang's Kuantan Rivermouth and facing the South China Sea are two idyllic fishing villages that are slowly being swept away by the waves of development. Located on the northeastern side of the estuary is Tanjung Api, and directly opposite it is Tanjung Lumpur.
  I have been to the Tanjung Lumpur fishing village many times through the years when visiting Kuantan. It is more famous for its seafood than Tanjung Api, boasting a number of big restaurants.
  However, I feel Kampung Tanjung Api, as it is better known, has more character, thanks to its wooden houses on stilts and makeshift fishing huts that dot its short coastline.
  The evening I was there, the good weather and blue skies allowed me to do a piece on fishing boats in Tanjung Api. They were moored at the edge of the coastal swamp land after the esplanade, separated from the beach by a thick line of flotsam and mangrove saplings struggling to gain a foothold.
A local fisherman looks for prey
  The sun was on its way down and the dissipating heat drew anglers to the concrete pier. Some distance away, children were seen diving in for a cool dip from boardwalks nailed to rotting bakau trunks.
  Tanjung Api is the destination of choice for anglers although a few eateries are also drawing loyalists to their premises. According to one angler, anglers like this place because the water is deeper than in Tanjung Lumpur and chances of landing a big catch is much better. The esplanade here is also quite large and can accommodate many anglers without their lines getting entangled at each cast.
  I was told that photographers and artists love this side of the Sungai Kuantan estuary simply because of its rugged geography. There are plenty of subjects in the form of wooden houses on stilts, debris from the sea, and rickety boardwalks reaching out to the boats moored at the water’s edge.
  If you are lucky, in the afternoons when the sea is too rough for boats to go out, you may catch sight of fishermen making fish traps known as bubu. I got acquainted with a couple who were also enjoying the outdoors painting that evening.
  At a small river at the end of the village, I met a local fisherman who was casting for fish. When I asked him what was he looking for, he replied that he was casting for a tilapia species that have adapted to the brackish water there. “Not big but enough for a decent meal tonight,” he replied, as his wife looked cautiously at my camera.
Inspired by the scenery, this artist puts her inspiration to paper
  From Tanjung Api, I could see that development is coming fast and swift to its riverine neighbour on the opposite bank. Two tall cranes were clawing at the skies on top of a huge complex; perhaps another hotel?
  As I left the place with a painting in hand, I was very sure that when I return again in a year or so, there will be fewer fishing boats to paint on either bank. I hope that Tanjung Api will not lose its charm.
  From Kuantan town, drive to Jalan Teluk Sisek towards Tanjung Lumpur. At the traffic lights, turn right but do not go up the bridge to Tanjung Lumpur. Instead, keep to the left and turn in at Jalan Padang Lalang. Go straight for about 1.4km until you come to Jalan Selamat and turn right.
  In about 500m, you will come to the junction with Jalan Tanjung Api. Turn left and look out for Lorong Tanjung Api 11 and turn in there. The esplanade is about 400m away. Look out for the Tanjung Api Mosque, which sits just at the entrance to the esplanade. You can use Tanjung Api Mosque, Kuantan, to approximate your search for its location on Waze.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Bagan Sungai Sembilang

The Bagan Sungai Sembilang beach is not as well known as its Pantai Remis counterpart
BAGAN Sungai Sembilang is a small sparsely populated coastal fishing village a kilometre south of the more popular Pantai Remis on the west coast of Selangor, near Kuala Selangor. It is accessible via Klang from the south or the Latar highway from the north, off the coastal Kapar-Kuala Selangor trunk road.
  I found this up-and-coming holiday spot quite by chance while exploring the area. The cluster of casuarina trees that were planted years ago on this stretch were a sight to behold the morning I was there. Their silhouette cast on the white sandy beach made the scenery picture-perfect.
  Bagan (or Kampung) Sungai Sembilang got its name from the river that runs through the area, which is also used by fishermen to advance inland by water. According to my friend Radzi, the coastal waters used to be teeming with the marine catfish known in Malay as sembilang. They are still found here but not as many as in years past.
This wet market is a recent development to boost
the economic activities in this enclave
  While painting this scenery, I noticed that many of the casuarina trees had been uprooted. Their trunks had been sawn off and the stumps left to rot. According to an army veteran (who watched me paint), the water-line was farther out at sea.
  "There were even more trees those days but over the years, the sea claimed more land," he explained as he pointed to a line of rocks that ran parallel to the beach, 50 metres away. "Those are what remain of a sea wall built many years ago to prevent erosion and they are now submerged in mud. Who knows, one day, the area where we are standing now might be under water."
  This stretch of beach is relatively unknown and is usually deserted on weekdays though there are some makeshift huts built some time ago. Come weekends or holidays, the shady stretch under the casu arinas will be occupied by cars. The beach is relatively clean, thanks to "No Littering" reminders nailed onto the trees by the locals, a troop of macaques were at the beach the day I was there. I saw about 10 of them scouring the ground for food scraps.
  The tide goes far out in the mornings, I was told, and the exposed mudflat is often filled with wading birds. The day I was there, a huge flock of painted storks and a couple of Lesser Adjutants were spotted foraging in the shallows, picking at morsels of food stuck between the barnacle-ridden rocks.
  Several weekenders were also seen looking for gerimis, a small yellow-brown coloured bivalve that gave the neighbouring Pantai Remis its name. Oysters have also been found here. But if you are not keen on looking for your own fresh seafood, you may want to check out the two eating stalls nearby.
Painted storks foraging in the shallows as the tide
  There are several holiday homes here, including a boutique resort.
  A shout's distance away is the wet market run by the fishermen of Bagan Sungai Sembilang. There are two or three fish and vegetable stalls at this market, which sits on the banks of the Sungai Sembilang.
  If you are looking for fresh fish or bivalves, this is a good place to visit. The prices are not much of a bargain if compared to elsewhere along the coast but the freshness of the sea produce is undoubtedly very good as testified by the number of cars waiting for fishermen to land their catch.
  The boats moored along both sides of the riverbanks also make for good photography, especially in the evenings. Just a stone's throw from the market is a marine fishing pay-pond. If you are itching to wet your lines and want to score some bragging rights, you can try your luck here for a fee.

  Sungai Sembilang lies a short distance off the Kuala Selangor-Kapar trunk road. If you are coming in from the south, Klang, keep a look out for the Petronas Sungai Sembilang fuel station. Turn left at the road a few metres after this station.
  The road is named Jalan Pantai Sungai Sembilang. If you miss this, the next road to watch out for is Jalan Khailani, just a few metres from Jalan Pantai Sungai Sembilang. Just go straight and you will first come to the Bagan Sungai Sembilang wet market. The road to the beach is at right of the wet market which sits on the riverbank.
  If you are using the Latar highway, it is about seven kilometres after the town of Sasaran (or Sungai Buloh, Jeram). The Petronas Sungai Sembilang should be on your right, and the two beach accesses will be just before the Petronas station. You can search the location on Waze or Google Maps.