PULAU KETAM: Malaysia is blessed to have more than 800 islands, and Langkawi, Tioman, Redang, Perhentian, and Pangkor are typically the names that come to mind when asked to name some of them.
However, lesser-known islands have their own charm. From picturesque houses to delicious seafood and friendly residents, they can linger in a visitor’s mind long after they’ve stepped off the island.
One such place is Pulau Ketam. Located in Selangor, it is easily accessible via ferry or speedboat from Port Klang.
As one approaches, it is hard not to be captivated by the sight of sturdy wooden houses on stilts or fishermen in boats. Time has stood still here – especially as there are no cars on the island and locals travel on bicycles along narrow roads.
The main street, or Jalan Besar, is a short walk from the city. Here, one can find various shops and restaurants serving seafood.
Unsurprisingly, the street is a popular haunt for tourists.
But on the way to the main street, one quaint-looking shop that looks like it belongs in another era will catch your attention. It has wooden doors and floors, and a huge blue signboard that reads “Cha Bong Kuang” – while another beside it explains it clearly: “Pejabat Pos Mini Pulau Ketam”.
This is not your regular post office. Once inside, you’ll spot claypot vases and teapots for sale – not the usual items you’d expect to see.
The wooden pigeonholes stacked with letters add to the old-world charm of the place.
“My grandfather, Cha Bong Kuang, started the mini post office in 1995,” 20-year-old Lim Ke Li told FMT. “But today, my mother, Cha Hiang Kee, helps run it.
“My grandfather is still alive but he rests at home due to his age,” she added, explaining that her grandpa is 76 years old.
Lim, who assists her mother, said that in addition to serving as a collection point for letters, they handle payments for utility bills. Compared with a usual post office, this one offers a reduced number of services.
There is no other post office on the island.
According to Lim, there are many senior citizens on Pulau Ketam who prefer to settle their bills the traditional way. “Although the younger people have tried to teach them [new methods], they can’t seem to get the hang of it.”
This is understandable, she said, as most of them have been fishermen all their lives, just like her own later father, and are not computer savvy.
True enough, an elderly gentleman soon walks in. As he hands over a utility bill and some cash to Hiang Kee, they exchange pleasantries and converse briefly – highlighting the beauty of small towns where residents know one another.
In Pulau Ketam, many shops sell a mix of products that have little in common. For example, one shop sells ice kacang alongside telecommunication accessories, while another sells snacks and Chinese New Year decorations.
This post office sells various home decorations, Chinese tea, as well as teapots. “My grandfather purchases these items from Kuala Lumpur and Klang,” Lim shared.
Health is wealth
Speaking of Chinese New Year, the family is looking forward to spending some quality time at home together.
“We are planning to cook and rest at home. But we don’t know how to make Chinese New Year cookies, so we did not do any baking,” Hiang Kee, 48, told FMT brightly.
She added that the island is more crowded during the holidays as those who have left to work elsewhere return for the celebrations.
The duo further revealed their Chinese New Year wishes. “I hope for good health and strength,” Lim said.
“And that’s very important,” Hiang Kee chimed in with a smile. “After all, we can only work and earn a living when we’re healthy.”
Pejabat Pos Mini Pulau Ketam
No. A7, Jalan Merdeka
42940 Pulau Ketam