Sunday, December 26, 2010

Travel: Carey Island, Selangor

The signboard of Kampung Sungai Bumbun

Welcome to Kampung Sungai Bumbun, Carey Island

Carey Island or Pulau Carey is an island in Selangor, Malaysia. Carey Island is located to the south of Port Klang and north of Banting town. It is a huge island separated from the Selangor coast by the Langat River, connected by a bridge from Chondoi and Teluk Panglima Garang near Banting. 

A signboard to the Tourist Complex

One of the Mah Meri wooden houses

It was named after Valentine Carey, a former British civil service officer in Malaya. Despite its name, many locals from Klang do not consider it a real island compared to Pulau Ketam due to its proximity to the mainland and the river that separates it from the mainland is practically a stream.

Mah Meri cultural village center, development is still in progress

The new craft complex for Mah Meri tribe will opening soon

Carey Island is famous for its seafood such as crabs, prawns, and various fishes. The island has palm oil plantations owned by Sime Darby Plantations. It is an initial settlement area for the Mah-Meri, one of the aborigine Orang Asli tribes of Malaysia. They have assimilated into modern life, with jobs in the nearby plantations and farms, but they retain their unique culture and way of life. Apart from exhibitions of their traditional dances and music, the Mah Meri are particularly known for their votive sculptures, fashioned from a kind of swamp hardwood known as "Nyireh Batu".

Corn farm

Palm oil plantations

There is no accommodation on the island but a day trip is enough to explore the island. 

How to Get There?
Drive from Kuala Lumpur to Teluk Panglima Garang on the Klang-Banting road. From Teluk Panglima Garang, a narrow road takes you past rustic Malay villages to Pulau Carey. A bridge links the mainland to the island. The entire drive takes approximately 11/2 hours.

One of the Mah Meri craftsman 

He is demonstrating the making of Mah Meri traditional wooden mask

There are 5 villages in Carey Island which are; Kampung Sungai Bumbun,Kampungg Rambai laut, Kampungg Kepau laut, Kampungg Sungai Judah and Kampung Sungai Jugra. My friends and I went to Kampung Sungai Bumbun for a day trip to visit and see the Mah Meri culture, crafts and traditional village. 

One of the rare tree that could not be seen in other place

The fruits look like rambutans but I was told by one of them that this fruit could't be eaten

Mah Meri is one of the 18 tribes of indigenous people in West Malaysia (Senoi). They Live along the coast of South Selangor from Sungei Pelek up to Carey Island & other side of the Klang River. About 300 people of Mah Meri people live here and their economic activities are agriculture & fishing. 

Each village elects its own “Tok Batin” & a council of 'elders'. Bomoh plays an important role in this tribe since they still believe of spirit of the ancestors and other spirits that protects them. They use 4 main languages : Mni, Mba, Hempik & Malay and have assimilated into modern life and retain culture.

The wood that used by Mah Meri craftsmen to make crafts and wooden carving

Mah Meri traditional house

My friends; from left - Ainaa, Nad, Ida and Piqah

Alias Crafts

A book of Mah Meri tribe

Wooden carving

Wooden masks

The most popular Mah Meri wooden carving is 'Harimau berantai' or Chained Tiger. Just a piece of wood will be carved into a tiger shape with chain and a wooden pearl in its mouth. This wood carving will be sold at RM1, 500 until RM5, 000 each according to the size that you want.

Magnificent wood carving by the Mah Meri. I wish I could keep one but it is very expensive. Could you imagine how hard for the craftsman to carve this beautiful art?

One of the village representative told my friends and me about the story behind all the wood carving made by the Mah Meri people. He said that all the shape of wooden carving like 'Puting Beliung' or Tornado, 'Harimau Berantai' or Chained Tiger and others came from dreams of the craftsmen. 

'Jerat Harimau' or Tiger Trap

The Mah Meri tribe also well-known of their unique and beautiful traditional dances and musics. The most popular dances or 'Jo'oh' are the 'Moyang' dance, 'Genggulang' and 'Tengkeng'. These dances are unique and the men with wooden masks are the most important part of the performance. 

The female dancers will dance around the 'Busut' or a cone shape of 'Mengkuang' weaving while the male dancers with masks will entertain visitors and people who watch the performance. The Mah Meri musical instrument include 'gong', 'seruling' or bamboo flute, bamboo sticks, bamboo guitar and violin.

Besides of traditional dances & beautiful music, the Mah Meri tribe also known for their most popular handicraft, "Nyireh Batu". They preserve a tradition of spiritual woodcarving that is truly world class in terms of quality. The art, which has rich mythological meanings behind the images and symbols, is handed down from father to son. 

As not many people seem interested in such animistic carvings, the young Mah Meri does not see it as a profitable trade. They also believe that humans, plants, animals possess spirits power and always near to them. 

The male dancer costume; a wooden mask, 'mengkuang' skirt, shirt and pants made of wood skin

These are the masks that used for the Mah Meri dance or 'Jo'oh'

A wood skin pants

I can't remeber the name of this wood carving

They believe that ancestral spirits cursed plants & animals to become food for humans. Woodcarving of characters / ancestors masks and figures from folk stories are used in spirit huts and left in the jungle, as offerings to the forest forces. Mythological characters are supreme, they believe that some of the ancestor influence health, illness, and and healing.

Their main festival or big day is Hari Moyang. 


Tadaaa... It's me lah!

This is the 'Busut' that used by the dancers 

Bookmarks from 'mengkuang' weaving

'Lesung batu' or stone mortar

'Bertemu Kasih', a traditional game of Mah Meri children

Another traditional game

This teenager shows the skill of playing the game to us

I think Carey Island should be developed and the Selangor State Government should grab the opportunity to manipulate this place and the uniqueness of the Mah Meri tribe to attract more tourist to come and visit this place. Besides preserving their culture, tourists arrivals to this place could help those people to generate their own income as craftsmen, dancers, businessmen, tourist informers, janitors and so on. This place has a very good potential to become a great tourism attractions. For those who are interested to see and learn about this tribe and their unique culture, just come here and you'll enjoy and like this place and its people. They are very friendly to outsiders and don't forget to bring some snacks to the children. 

Here is a 'pantun' of the Mah Meri tribe:

"haga kaca laut hap
ka lundu kaca kele
haga ngayuh pahuk hap
gerih rindu tahat kele"
(Mah Meri)

"hendak makan lauk tiada
ikan lundu makan juga

hendak mengayuh dayung tiada
hati rindu ku tahan juga "