Previous Unloads:

1991 May: A Visit to Langkawi, the Land of Mahsuri

1991 Aug: Study tour to Medan, Indonesia

1994 May: First Asia Pacific Chitin and Chitosan Symposium (APCCS)

1995 Dec: Revisiting SAS

1997 Dec: Rally Nationwide Vision

1998 Apr MOU and Launching of Chito-Chem (M) Sdn Bhd

1999 Sep: The Officiation of Smart Technology Centre, UKM

1999 Sep 23: A Week on Leave

|| HOME ||On Leave for a Week
|| Bidong Revisit, 2006 Jun ||An Old Man and the Sea, 2008 May ||Receding from the Sea, 2010 Apr 25 ||
This is the place where I go to on my full week on leave. It is one of the jetties in Kg Batin on the estuary of Kuala Terengganu. On the background is Seberang Takir, the famous venue of the Rashid Ngah's 60's setting for the "Di Bawah Alunan Ombak (trl. In the Rolling of Waves)". The mouth of Terengganu river is on the right of the picture, barely visible though.
Rendezvous point: it is a small wooden hut under one of the many coconut trees near the jetty. In the vicinity there are a small thuck shop for a quick drink, a surau for a quick "businees" and further up a small grocery for a few days provisions, including some "impromptu" ice. My permanent crews include Mokhtar, the able seaman who takes care of the "welfare" of the vessel including in time to anchor and to unanchor. He is a good cook too. The juragam is Abd Rahman, a fisherman since twelve years old and has been fishing in almost all grounds of the South China Sea, from Perhentian to Tioman. He reads the GPS monitor in the trawler to move from one spot to another in the sea, and he reads the echo-sounder monitor too to know the depth of the sea, the objects between the sea floor and the sea surface and to elucidate the possible type of fish. He talks over the radio in a language very well verse among the fishermen to keep the position updated all the time among the trawlers in the sea.

Kuala Terengganu, viewed from the jetty, and below, viewed by the leaving fishermen.
When everything is set, we move out to the sea. Normally it is on Saturday or Sunday morning, so that we could dock on Wednesday night or Thursday morning. On this particular day, the sea was extremely calm. Its surface was like a fluid mirror surface.
The 100-footer vessel can hold confortably 5-6 of us, meaning we can sleep confortably at night. It is powered by a 56-HP diesel engine. The tank can take 1000 litres of fuel which mean it can run 15 days non-stop. It also carries 2000 litres of fresh water and a provision for about three weeks in the sea (assuming the fish will be supplied by the sea).

The famous "Five Islands" among Terengganu fishermen; from right (i.e. towards the mainland): Yu Besar, Yu Kecil, Gelok, the unmistakenable Bidong and Karah. Redang and Pinang are the background between Yu Kecil and Gelok. From this view, roughly north-west, and the visibility depthness of the islands, a fisherman judges that Yu Besar, Yu Kecil, Bidong and Karah are in line; the colour is dark-green. Gelok is slightly off to the background, but Redang and Pinang is surely far off away for its colour is misty-green. Extra-polated backward from this view, Bidong is visible as far as a hundred and fifty kilometers away, close to the Petronas Oil Rigs. These are the "navigational aids" used by the Vietnamese boat people in the late 70's to arrive at Bidong.

On the way to the grounds or spots, we always stop at the "unjang" for small fish to make baits and to ensure our menu too. My sons, #3 and #4, especially the latter always pull better fish.

Bidong by air, Karah is the smaller on the right foreground. Frequently we head for Bidong area, it is about four hours cruising from the jetty at about ten knots. We pull mostly snapper types fish in this area, which is full of coral reef, especially on the mainland sides of the islands. It used to be many big snappers, like "ikan merah" and "ibu kerapu" here, but now mostly "kerisi" not bigger than 8" size. There are a lot of "bayan" (the equivalent of birds of paradise) but their sizes are too small. Nonetheless, if we come here we are sure of our dinner and lunch menu of fresh white hot fish meat.
The thrill is fishing on the grounds like this. It takes a very skill juragam like Abd Rahman to nevigate the vessel to this spot, I mean "spot" not "ground", yes a spot. When we reach this spot the sonar tell us that there is a stony structure below, about 50 meter deep, and it has been one of the feeding "spot", yes spot, for big fish like "ikan merah", "jemuduk", "kekacang", "ebek", "cecupak", "tenggiri", "haruan tasik", "belitong" and of course "yu". On normal occasions we could see nothing other than the sea and the sky above, even turning our view 360 degrees. This place is about seven hrs cruising from the jetty. On this occasion a ship passed by, its route is roughly northeast-southwest. But our where-about depends solely on the GPS and compass in the vessel, as well as the radio contact with other fellow fishermen. And the catches are ... you can say luxurious if you wish.
And at night, pulling squids is a lot of fun. The best time to "squid" is around August and on the full-moon. The moon in the sky is like a giant torch light. It sort of draws the squids to the surface. The wavy surface scatters the light, and that scattering point are viewed as tiny food by the squids. You just hook them up into the vessel, sometimes on lucky night, three altogether of two feet long, meaning a kilo or more per pull. And its all along the night till sunrise the next morning... Or after intercepting a surfing school of tunas, everyone has to work on them since there would be 30 to 40 fish get hooked along the line, surely unmanageable by one person.
Jelani, the Sec of Port Klang's Anglers Association was with us in May 1999. He carried along with him a 1.1 kRM tailored-made rod with a 1.5 kRM spooler. However, his dream to tug something bigger than a 30-kg sting-ray, like the one he used to in Port Klang, was unfullfilled.
A sea-monster. This giant monsterous steel machine is indeed a magnificent object in the sea, but at night it is a real scarry sea-ghost. It does not make sound, or its aproaching sound is inaudible, swallowed by the slapping of waves on our vessel's side. It would suddenly appear very dark in front of us, and we never know whether the captain notice or not our existence. The best way to avoid this ghost is to stay away from its route. My juragam know it.
I watch again and again the receding monster, until it shrinks into a point and disappears. If I watch it comming, it would starts as a point and transforms into a monster. My mind and imagination equally recede, first to my school days times, then further back to the first century of ocean adventure by the early scientists. This picture is apparently a classic view of the famous evident that the earth is a sphere. I watch the sky-line at the distant horizon, turning the view 360 degree where there is nothing to see other than the sea and the sky above it, you really can feel the smooth curvature of the horizon. The early scientists in the Meditterranean Sea could feel it stronger than me. I think they never stopped getting themselves convinced that the earth is a sphere. The picture, the famous picture of smoky steam-ship was only a tool for the scientist to tell and convince the public who had never been to the open sea, of what the scientists were convinced.
Another kind of "ghostly" view, it come from the south-east, and on this occasion we were actully below it. The sea began to get choppy.
But my juragam say "don't worry", when he looked towards north-west, there was another "ghostly" view, or rather "anti-ghost" of it. He did not even bother to mention to me the other "ghostly", nuclear-explosion-shape cloud on the other direction. I learned later that at worst it give a wet chilly night sleep, or at best it gives us a fresh water shower to get our skin desalted.
Back to jetty and docked. The most pleasurable thing to do after docking is to have a real wet bath of fresh river water at the jetty.