Saturday, December 8, 2007

A day's outing

The monsoon rain is here, its December, and it has been raining for a few days now, not consistently but in short period of heavy downpours. And I was bored staying at home, doing nothing productive but just going through all the mails and arguing on the internet. So I decided, agreed by my wife, to go for a spin, rain or shine. We decided to explore a nearby town called Pekan (about 50 km away), which is called the Royal Town of Pahang. Why? The royalty of Pahang had for generations made that town their place of residence until of late where many have moved to Kuantan or even as far away as Kuala Lumpur. Yet the Sultan of Pahang has his office officially in Pekan.

It was pouring when we started, and along the way we saw water rising in many low lying areas. But they were not dangerous because the rate of rise is very slow, and not sudden, and the roads are now raised to a higher level than the surrounding areas. We drove on until we reached Pekan about 45 minutes to 1 hour later.

I had planned to visit the Farmers Market in Pekan, so we drove there first. Not much really, not as impressive as in Temerloh. Yes, there were people selling and buying but the crowd was rather small, probably the weather was of concern to them and not on their side, though the sun was shining at the location. The sellers, as usual, were selling clothings in bulk, fish and vegetables and some locally made delicacies. I was not impressed with the Market.

We left the place and I visited the Pekan Museum. While my wife and her sister, who came with us accompanied by her husbanad, went to the Sultans Polo Ground, near the Palace, in Pekan town. She said she was impressed with the upkeep of the Polo Ground.

I visited first the Sultan Abu Baker Museum, really some people call it the “Pekan Museum”.

In reality its the Museum showing basically the history of the Pahang Royalty. Not much, except that there were many photographs and souvenirs of the father of the present Sultan of Pahang and also those of the present Sultan. No camera was allowed in the Museum but I managed to take some photoes of the present Sultan’s father’s car using my hand phone camera.

I was there for about half an hour, and there were very few visitors there.

And on coming out, I went to visit the Boat Museum across the road, on the banks of the nearby river. There I must say I was impressed. The Museum though not well maintained but has a variety of old boats for show. It brings me many memories of the boats I used to ride on as a young boy growing up by the Pahang River beside which I was born, upriver about 200 km from Pekan. I used to take rides on some of these boats.

The inverted V–shaped roofed boat looked like the first boat I ever went in to ride, downriver, on a first visit to Temerloh town years ago, my first ever visit to a real town. The flat board at the rear of the boat was where the outboard engine was placed.

The other boats which were then commonly used in my village were these dugout canoes. These were used to travel short distances by and along the river, for purposes of fishing for visiting friends and relatives across the river. The older version,

and the newer version.

The other boats are the ones I only see pictures of but have never taken any ride in. Very decorative, and I am sure these decorations have some purpose. Looking at those high bow, these must be boats used in the sea.

And the racing boats ……..

Regret though they never showed the ‘house’ boat where the late Sultan of Pahang (Sultan Abu Bakar) used to ride on when he visited the riverine villages when he was the Sultan. He used to visit (if my recollection is right) those riverine villages almost every year, to see and to listen to his subjects. And the ‘house’ boat was a the only mean he could go to these villages then, and at that time the Pahang River was still quite deep, unlike now where there are a lot of sand banks. It was complete ‘hotel’ for him, his ‘joget girls’ (dancing girls) and a set of boat crew. The house boat had no engine, so it used to be pulled by another boat, a diesel engined boat I think.

On going back we decided to leave Pekan after lunch; the food that we had at a small Malay restaurant in Pekan town was just to keep our stomach full but not really satisfying. We decided to go by a more rural road along the Pahang River, the road going upstream. It was a good road, but one cannot help but see that the folks living by the river banks are not that well off. And they rear fresh water fish for a living, at least as one of the means of earning a living. Probably they also tap rubber as well, I would not really know. The houses were good and close together as we started the journey from Pekan town but gradually became more far apart and more dilapidated as we moved on. Then about one-half hours to 45 minutes later the houses were less apart and more well built again, mostly of brick. Untill we reached the bridge crossing the Pahang River along the Kuantan – Segamat Highway, and we have to cross that river via that bridge to get back to Kuantan, about another half an hour journey to reach Kuantan Town. And we saw this young man with a big catfish which he just caught, in his net he said.

And by the time we were on our way to Kuantan, the rain had stopped and the sun was shining again until we reached Kuantan Town.

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