PULAU KETAM: With the 15 days of Chinese New Year festivities drawing to a close, it’s official: the holiday season is coming to an end. For many, it’s time to buckle down and settle into the daily grind.
Although long-distance vacations are unlikely now, there are still many lovely places domestically that you can consider for a day trip – like Pulau Ketam, a quaint island off the coast of Port Klang in Selangor.
Literally translated as ‘crab island’, it is unsurprising that seafood is a popular attraction here. However, the island boasts many other charms, as the FMT team recently found out.
A refreshing journey
To get to the island, you can hop onto a ferry or speedboat from the South Port Passenger Terminal in Port Klang.
If you’re looking to travel by public transportation to the terminal, the Port Klang KTM station is within walking distance. Alternatively, for those driving, there are ample parking bays beside the KTM station.
A ferry ride takes approximately 45 minutes, while a speedboat trip is about 20 to 25 minutes. On a clear day, passengers will enjoy expansive views of the blue sky, mangrove trees, and if one is lucky – an eagle or two flying in the distance. A breath of fresh air, indeed!
Take in the sights… and some photos
Upon arrival at the Pulau Ketam jetty, first-time visitors may be momentarily surprised to see the number of bicycles parked there… and literally not a car in sight.
That’s because bicycles are the primary mode of transportation here. So, join in the fun, rent a bicycle, and start exploring the island!
A good place to start the adventure would be along Jalan Besar or the island’s bustling main street where many shops and restaurants are located.
Here, you might feel like you’ve stepped into the heart of Chinatown as almost everyone speaks Chinese. Well, it’s expected as it’s a predominantly Chinese community.
But don’t let the language barrier stop you from immersing yourself in the culture because after all, isn’t that the purpose of travelling to a new place?
Besides the main street, the rest of the island has charming sights to offer – wooden houses on stilts, fishermen lounging on their boats, a mini post office, beautifully painted murals… and even a “little free library”.
This library is in reality an elevated white wooden box, resembling a bird house, with a sign that says: “Take a book, return a book”. Quite a novel idea, indeed!
However, because the roads on the island are narrow, avoid gathering in groups for too long, or you might hear a frantic ringing of bells behind you signaling a cyclist wishing to pass by.
Indulge in the food
Feeling famished after that bicycle ride? There are several eateries where you can satisfy your hunger – and seafood cravings.
One of them is Remember Me Seafood restaurant known for their chilli crab, Kam Heong clams, and squid sambal.
Alternatively, make a beeline to Kim Hoe restaurant to savour its popular sweet-and-sour crab, fish ball soup and butter prawns.
Or, if you’re looking for lighter fare, head over to Chuan Hian coffee shop for some delicious “lala chien” or fried clam omelette, wan tan mee and a strong cup of Hainan coffee, among others.
The people: the hidden gem in a hidden gem
Mostly, one of the more memorable highlights of the island are the locals themselves – generous with their smiles and ever willing to share with you their interesting histories and ties to the island.
One of them is 57-year-old Beh Huat Hin, who owns a shop on main street selling sweets and Chinese New Year decorations during the festive season.
Born on the island, Beh was a fisherman before he moved to Singapore. When he returned to his hometown, he opened the shop.
According to Beh, there aren’t many options to make a living here except as a fisherman or business owner. And he is one of the many who say the same thing: most of the younger population here have since moved to greener pastures.
If you are a city dweller, spending time on the island is a breath of fresh air: there are lovely sights to take in, good food to eat and a chance to explore a simpler lifestyle for a while. However, it can also be hard not to wonder: what does the future hold for the people of Pulau Ketam?