马来西亚吉胆岛 螃蟹造就 “小桃源”
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马来西亚吉胆岛 螃蟹造就 “小桃源”

(摘自2013年12月2日新加坡联合早报)

余经仁/文    洪旭、戴文雪/摄影

马来西亚的吉胆岛,面积30平方公里,是大片的红树林和沼泽浅滩。辛勤的人们在浅滩上搭桥成路,把房屋架高建在高脚柱上,成了温馨简朴的家园。岛上有五条港湾,岛民都集中住在头条港的吉胆村和五条港村。

晋朝诗人陶渊明讲述有武陵渔人,误闯入桃花林,不期然发现那里“屋舍俨然,阡陌交通,鸡犬交通,人们怡然自乐”,从此,桃花源成为幸福乐土的别称。无奈桃花源始终遍寻不获,结果让许多人有无限的期待与向往……

令人意想不到的是,这个世间还真有一个像陶渊明所描绘的乐土,它,就在马来西亚雪兰莪州离巴生港海岸不远的吉胆岛(Pulau Ketam)。

吉胆岛是译自马来文的ketam,意思是螃蟹。一百多年前,这里盛产螃蟹,吸引了人们越海到这里捕蟹,最终在这里落地生根,荒岛从此有了人烟。

严格来说,吉胆岛不是岛,它30平方公里的面积,是大片的红树林和沼泽浅滩。不过,辛勤的人们在浅滩上搭桥成路,把房屋架高建在高脚柱上,就成了温馨简朴的家园。

吉胆岛有五条港湾,人们顺序地叫它们是头条港、二条港、三条港、四条港和五条港。目前,岛民都集中住在头条港的吉胆村和五条港村,二条港则有少数的原住民。全岛人口总数约为六七千人。

安宁祥和的气氛

从码头登上五条港村,马上就会让人感染到这里安宁祥和的气氛。村中的民居,沿着两三公尺宽的大桥从两旁建起。这些住家各自拥有小庭院,大门则敞开着,显然是随时欢迎邻人前来串门子,细说家长。

在这里,村人生活节奏显著缓慢,说真的,在这样的渔村里,肯定没有什么大事需要冲闯忙碌的,所以,走在街上,看到的人们总是一派悠闲,怡然自得。

人们无忧无虑的理由很简单,这里的村民八成是以捕鱼为生,这种靠天吃饭的行业,造就了人们快乐的天性,只要你愿意劳动,就不愁没有三餐,不必为生活而担心。

因为生活毫无忧虑,人们在这里都是安步当车,真要省一点脚力,那就骑脚踏车好了,脚踏车是村中唯一的交通工具,为此,这里完全没有交通阻塞,也保证没有空气污染,绝对是一片“净土”。

全村人一起行动

“净土”也可以引伸为治安良好,这里就只有那三几百户人家,大家都互相认识,罪案在五条港绝了迹,因为警察全无用武之地,村中不设警察署,警察对当地人来说,早已成为陌生的名词。

谈到捕鱼,五条港渔人的捕鱼作息方式,也值得一书。

这里的渔民出港时,是全村人一起行动的。这时,七八十艘的渔船,笛声齐鸣,连同马达声“毕毕啪啪”划空而过,一时蔚为奇观。他们到外海后,就集体扎桩下网,前后一周。这一周来,他们在船上生活捕鱼,顺道把主要是虾米和水母的渔获,就地晒成虾米干和水母干。一周后,渔家们再载着渔获回返家园,等待重新出发,周而复始,年复一年。

五条港渔民勤于出海,促使虾米产量占全国第一,虾米干闻名全马,游人到此,无不要顺手购买三五包回家。

由于人口稀少,五条港就只有一所小学——新民华小,全校有16名老师和160名学生。

这所小学朴实无华,充满乡土风情。当天到访时,从窗外一探课室,发现它仍沿用黑板和粉笔,墙上还贴着学生大楷的佳作。这幅纯朴情景,马上令人坠入到50年前儿时的回忆中。可惜的是,当天适逢公共假期,少了上课的学生,听不到小儿郎们的琅琅读书声。

五条港人安居乐业、无忧无虑、与世无争、悠然自得,这不就是陶渊明笔下的世外桃源吗?

今天,要到这个世外桃源,已经无须再寻寻觅觅了,任何人从巴生港(Port Klang)出发,视搭乘的船只而定,一个小时左右就可以到达五条港。不过,五条港暂时没有民宿旅店,游人要留宿的话,还得到吉胆村去。至于来回两地的交通,都得依靠水路。

对比起五条港村,吉胆村算是“繁华”许多,这里有更多的餐饮设施、民宿。在人们喜好回归自然的趋势下,每逢公假,这里每天可以有多达3000人上岛旅游,热闹非凡。

    五条港

    中国境外的同安村

五条港人口六七百人,他们当中有99%是福建同安人的后裔,这很可能是中国境外独一无二的同安村。

这里的同安人,几乎是完整地保留着祖辈的风俗习惯。比如说,他们都讲着浓浓腔音的闽南语,家家户户门前,都张贴着灯号,好像太原、紫云、颖川与西河等等,以示自家的乡源。

即使是捕鱼的渔网,也是承继祖先用的七星网。 每逢过年过节(春节和三月三),人们一定烹煮家乡传统的名菜薄饼庆祝。

因为是同安村,它与新马的同安会馆也结有一段缘。 上世纪90年代,当地的同安联谊社为翻新会所,曾向新加坡同安会馆筹款,会馆当时共集资了6万多元,连同马六甲的同乡会,一起协助他们完成拥有新大楼的心愿。联谊社为表感激,其中二楼特取名为“新加坡同安会馆楼”。这个高三层的大楼,屹立在街中央,是全村的最高建筑,也是当地的地标。

 

Pulau Ketam  in Malaysia – A Paradise of Crabs

Written by Woo Keng Jin

Photos by Ang Shiuh and Tai Boon Suat

 

Chinese poet, Tao Yuan Ming, of the Jin dynasty once wrote : a fisherman from Wulin accidentally discovered a Peach Blossom Spring ‘with orderly houses and criss-crossed roads, dog barking and rooster crowing could be heard. People lived happily there’. The Peach Blossom Spring has since become the synonym for paradise but it was never found again. It left many people kept wondering of its whereabouts.

I unexpectedly chanced upon a place just like the paradise or the peach blossom spring described by Tao Yuan Ming. The place is Pulau Ketam, a Malaysia island not far from Port Klang in the state of Selangor.

Pulau Ketam originates from the word ‘Ketam’ which means crab in the Malay language. More than a century ago, the island was filled with crabs. The uninhabited island attracted many people to sail there to catch crabs. Many people later decided to stay on the island.

Strictly speaking, Pulau Ketam is not an island. The 30 kilometer square site is made up of mangrove swamp. Hard working people built on the shallow swamp stilts and planks to form roads. They also built houses on the high-rise stilts to become their home sweet home.

There are five alleys on Pulau Ketam, namely, the first alley, the second alley, the third alley, the fourth alley and the fifth alley. Currently, residents stay mainly in the Ketam village along the first and fifth alleys or Wu Tiao Gang. The second alley has some aborigines. There are a total of some 6000 to 7000 residents living on the island.

Peaceful atmosphere

After debarking from the jetty to the fifth alley village or Wu Tiao Gang, one can immediately feel an air of peace and serenity. Houses here are built along bridges about two to three metres wide. Each house has a small courtyard with its door wide open, seemingly welcoming neighbours anytime to come over for a chat.

Here, the pace of life is slower. There are no reasons to rush in this fishing village. Hence, passers-by on the street look relax and easy-going.

The reason for the worry-free atmosphere is simple. About 80% of the local residents are fishermen. Their livelihood depends on the weather. They have a positive outlook in life as they believe that as long as they work hard, they need not worry about their livelihood.

 

The residents here get around by foot. They would cycle if they want to move around without walking. Bicycles become the only transport here. Hence, there is neither road congestion nor air pollution here. It is a truly ‘clean land’.

 

Action by all villagers

‘Clean Land’ would also refer to a safe environment. There are only about 300 families here. The residents know each other. In Wu Tiao Gang, there is no crime. There is no policemen and no police station. To the local residents, the word ‘police’ has become obsolete.

The way of fishing here is worth mentioning too. All the village residents will go fishing together. About 70 to 80 boats will set off with whistles blowing, coupled with the sound from the boat engines, it is indeed spectacular.

The fishermen will anchor their boats and cast their nets once they reach their destination. They will spend a week there. Besides fishing and living on the boat, the fishermen will also sun-dry other catches like shrimps and jelly fish. After a week, these fishermen would head home and wait for their next trip. This will go on year after year.

Wu Tiao Gang fishermen are hard working people. They go out to the sea often. Hence, dried shrimps production from Wu Tiao Gang tops the nation. The dried shrimps are well known in Malaysia. It is a popular item for visitors to bring home.

Wu Tiao Gang is sparsely populated. It has only one primary school – XinMing Chinese Primary School.  The school has 16 teachers and 160 students.

The school structure is simple and rustic. On the day of my visit, I looked through the classroom windows and realized that black boards and chalks were being used here. Well written calligraphies by students were put up on the wall. Such a scene reminded me of my childhood days 50 years ago. It was a pity no student was around as I visited the school on a public holiday. Neither could we hear students reading in the background.

Wu Tiao Gang residents are happy with their life and work. They have no worries. They do not compete with one another. Isn’t such a life resembles that of the Peach Blossom Spring written by poet Tao Yuan Ming?

Today, there is no need to search high and low for such a Peach Blossom Spring. One only needs to set off from Port Klang in Kuala Lumpur. It takes about an hour’s boat ride before we reach Wu Tiao Gang. However, there is no hotel or motel here. To stay over nite, one needs to go to Pulau Ketam. From Pulau Ketam to Wu Tiao Gang and vice versa, one can only take boat rides.

Compared to Wu Tiao Gang, Pulau Ketam is a more busy place. There are many restaurants and motels here. As more people like to get close to nature these days, it is no wonder during public holidays, as many as 300 peoplewould visit the island.

 

Wu Tiao Gang – A Tong An village outside China

There are about 600 to 700 residents in Wu Tiao Gang. Of whom, about 99% are descendents of ancestors from the Hokkien Tong An province.  Hence, Wu Tiao Gang could be the only Tong An village outside China.

The Tong An residents here have preserved the culture and habits of their ancestors. For example, they speak with a strong Hokkien accent. Each household displays their ancestor’s place of birth like Tai Yuan, Zhi Yun, Yin Chuan and Xihe.

Even the design of their fishing net can be traced back to the ‘seven star’ net used by their ancestors.

During Chinese New Year and the third day of March of the lunar calendar, residents would prepare their traditional food popiah for celebration.

This Tong An village also has a deep relationship with the Tung Ann District Guild in Singapore and their Malaysian counterpart.

In  the 1990s, the Tong An Association at Wu Tiao Gang received a donation of $60,000 from their Singapore and Malacca counterparts for refurbishment of their building into a modern premises. Wu Tiao Gang Tong Ann Association in appreciation, has named the premises on the second level of the building after ‘Singapore Tung An District Guild’.

Now, the three-storey building in the town centre of Wu Tiao Gang has not only become the tallest building, it has also become Wu Tiao Gang’s landmark.

 

Caption : Wu Tiao Gang’s fishermen make frequent fishing trips, hence, their supply of dried shrimps tops the nation and is well known through Malaysia.

Caption : The Tung Ann Friendly Association at Wu Tiao Gang received funds from Singapore Tung An District Guild and Malacca’s Tong An Association. The building has named a level  after each association.