The 5 of us enjoying our breakfast.
On 23rd Sep 2014(Tue), Wilson, Alan Taxi, Encik, Lao Si and myself set off to the much talked about fishermen village in a remote part of Gelang Patah in Johore. Kampung Pendas is a small idyllic fishermen village anchored at the mouth of a small river directly facing our Poyan and Tengah Reservoirs. This hidden jewel tucked in one isolated corner away from the bustling city life, amidst the mangrove swamps at the edge of the southern tip of the great land mass still remains undiscovered and unspoiled. Wilson brought us there and to say that we were overwhelmed by its’ natural uncorrupted alluring beauty is an understatement.
We set off in the morning at about 0700 hrs from Elias Mall. When we crossed over to Gelang Patah at the 2nd link via Tuas, we had some problem locating this remote hideaway! My Garmin GPS was hopeless. Luckily, we had Lao Si’s Nokia Lumia 1520’s GPS system to guide us to the exact location after going in circles within Gelang Patah. By then, it’s already passed 10.30am which was quite late. The trick is to get there before 9am when those fishermen just returned with their fresh catch in their small motorized sampans after a night of fishing.
We wasted no time when we finally arrived there. The leader Wilson straightaway got busy looking at all the stalls and those fishermen with their fresh catch in their small fishing boats to zero in whatever seafood on offers. Since he could speak very good Malay, he was the one heckling over the prices getting the best deals and bargains for us. We merely tagged along and enjoyed the kampung spirit of the common fishing folks there. Not only the fresh unadulterated seafood right from the seas, everything there was refreshing and new to us city dwellers whom were so used to high rise concrete buildings and vehicle fumes!
Wilson ordered flower crabs, crayfish, prawns, sotong, red snapper fish etc in the kilos. All were thrown inside AT’s big cooler box with plenty of ice to maintain its freshness. It’s a war chest full of fresh loot from the night’s catch hauled in by those seasoned Malay fishermen right from the seas within the narrow channel separating us from them. Really, it’s world’s apart living between the narrow straits. It’s so near just across and yet so far where we had to make our way across the borders and enroute there through the dirt tracks just to enjoy it’s natural idyllic setting which we yearn for.
Wilson then proceeded to book our chef at a small eatery at the edge of the river. He gave instructions on the seafood preparation and left the cooler box there whilst we walked to a nearby stall to have a light breakfast of roti prata and tea tarik. 5 of them had a leisurely breakfast and that cost us less than RM20!
By the time we walked back to the little hut where our Macik was busy with the many kilos of fresh seafood, it’s almost ready. Half of those just plain steamed and the other half of the seafood cooked with chilli. A huge jug of lime juice with plenty of ice on standby. We settled comfortably to begin our mother of all seafood feast at the little hut by the sea with lots of fishing boats berthing there. It’s cool, shady amidst the huge mangrove swamp there even thought it’s hot and humid with high temperature blazing away under the midday sun.
AT, Wilson, Encik speak excellent Malay. I speak adequate Malay. Lao Si none. Whatever, we were able to engage in an animated Malay conversation with the Macik and her hubby. She was having a whale of time cooking the tons of seafood we bought earlier. We devoured those cooked seafood faster than she could cook. We were so overwhelmed with the tasty fresh seafood especially the crayfish and flower crabs which took our taste buds to the highest culinary pleasure where money can never buy back home! Priceless indeed! The hubby quickly brought a big pail for us to dispose off the shells and remnants of the seafood onslaught we shamelessly displayed. After all, we did not want to lose out in this once a blue moon fresh seafood feast! What an enjoyable meal underneath the huge mangrove swamp with insects in the background tweeting and sniggering at us – city dwellers.
Whist they were busy feasting on the fresh juicy hot seafood, I as usual was busy sending tons of pictures via WhatsApp to our EM chat group back home to keep them updated of our little off track adventure. After all, I could receive local signals. No auto roaming data charges incurred since its so near to home. As such, whilst we were having a jolly good time attacking our seafood, friends back home were also having a virtual visual feast. I was scolded by Lohcifer and others for not inviting them yet tempting them! What a langgar situation dah!
At the end of the mother of all seafood feast, Wilson asked for the bill in Malay of course. Macik says in Malay, “Up to you to give lah!” What? No price tag for the huge amount of cooking? The iced lime juice drinks, the plates, the washing and the huge mess created by all of us – and now it’s up to us to pay her? WTF? ( What The Fish ok?)
Five of us in the group. Wilson then decided to pay the Malay lady who did the cooking for us at RM50 (S$20) based on RM10 for each of us. Wilson asked her in Malay if it’s enough for her labour and cooking costs? Her reply in Malay, “Tuan, banyat sangat lah!” Again WTF! She was telling us that we paid her more than enough! The gods must be crazy lah!
Do you believe what I just related? Do you still believe in the incorruptibility, honesty, sincere kampung folks existing right across our materialistic soulless and cold calculative society where everything is reduced to dollar and cent? We may be the best in everything in terms of achievements in the materialistic sense but in fact we are so much poorer in terms of human intrinsic values. That was what the legendary Myanmar leader retorted when she visited us. We tried to boast and showcase to her about our great world class achievements hoping to get praises from her when she retorted that there is also so much we could learn from them as well. She was not impressed at all. I’m humbled by her different mindset perspective.
Total damage for that wanton feast including the cooking came to RM240 which is only S$93.22 (less than S$20 each person) for the five of us amidst that exclusive kampung setting by the mangrove swamp with a fantastic sea view! I parked my taxi at home idling. In terms of the rental and forgone income when it’s not driven, it’s quite a lot but trust me, it is worth every cent! Every mother’s son at EM is clamoring to go there! We are already looking forward to another trip.
Read The Fish Connoisseur | Gintai_昇泰 – https://gintai.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/the-fish-connoisseur/