Travel Times (New
Straits Times) May 3-9, 2005
If you think
Terengganu is all about islands in the sun,
you're missing a lot. The Marang River Cruise, for instance, shows you
the rustic charm of village life along the river. Story and pictures by
TERENGGANU is not all about the islands of
Kapas, Tenggol, Redang and Perhentian. Tired that for so many years now,
tourism is concentrated mainly on its islands in the South China Sea,
the State Government has decided to open its lakes and rivers to
visitors. For instance, along its rivers, there are plenty to see that
do not involve getting wet, snorkelling, scuba diving or sunbathing on
One particular river that's fast becoming
popular is Sungai Marang. There's a regular River Cruise available which
offers visitors a glimpse of the daily life that goes on along its
banks. Villagers are working together to make a living from tourism.
houses have turned into "little factories"
producing coconut sugar and exhibitions on attap roof weaving are
held among other activities. You can sample Terengganu delicacies like
and its ma,ny sweet delights and watch
monkeys plucking coconuts., So excited are the villagers about the
change that some elderly couples have opened their homes and hearts to
visitors anxious to see what kampung life is all about - for free!
In some villages like Kampung Gong Nangka and
Jerang, time seems to have stood still. "We are happy that things have
remained the same here. For us, what is important is ensuring visitors
go home happy and that not too much development comes about," says
Zaleha Mat Su, 30, who makes coconut sugar for a living. Operating from
her home, Zaleha makes the sugar from fermented coconut water and
charges RM1.50 a piece. She sells some 20 to 30 pieces a day. The income
is enough for her and she is quite content for things to stay this way.
"City folks love coconut sugar because it can used to make traditional
and drinks. Many soya sauce makers also buy
the sugar from us."
Down the road from her house, 74-year-old Pak
Uda Mohd and his monkeys make a living plucking coconuts. Through signs
and a special language only understood by master and his primate, the
monkeys can pluck some 100 coconuts a day- which earns Pak Uda about
RM20."Tourists are absolutely fascinated by what the tame monkeys can do
and sometimes, these animals are in a mood to show off," he says. "Many
visitors spend whole afternoons following me around to watch the monkeys
up to their tricks. Some foreigners, especially the Japanese, are so
taken up by the kampong
lifestyle that they often come back for
more," he adds. Pak Uda is also a medicine man who sometimes advises
tourists on what to do and what to eat if they are coming down with an
ailment. He doesn't charge for consultation but grateful tourists have
rewarded him. According to Pak Uda, July to September are good months to
visit the villages because it is the fruit season.
Kampung Gong Nangka is also where
bags are made, mainly by housewives who want
to earn some extra income. These are sold to Kraftangan Malaysia, which
in return exports the bags. Don't be surprised if you see Elizabeth
Hurley or even Posh Spice totting one of Mila Karmila Mohd Mokhtar's
colourful bags which come in all shapes and sizes."I have 34 women
working," says Mila Karmila, 24, who started the business two years ago
with her mother. "Those with young children and babies take their work
home and we collect the finished products. "My bags are exported to
China, London and other parts of the world and on a good month, we are
able to produce some 6,000 to 7,000 bags and more,than 1,000 boxes.
Tourists purchase the bags here because they are cheap. Depending on the
size, each is sold between RM20and RM40".
Those keen to explore Terengganu or want to
take the Marang River Cruise can call Ping Anchorage Travel & Tours Sdn
Bhd at 09 6262020