Sunday, 11 June 2017

Sitiawan: Pangkor revisited

It must have been easily 10 years since we last visited Pangkor. It's a small island with locals staying on the east coast and tourists on the west coast. What a unique divide! There have been progress on the island, of course, but the place is still very laid back. Not that we were complaining; indeed, we enjoyed the brief hours that we spent there. First stop after we rented a car - RM50 for the four hours on the island - was to visit the Dutch fort. However, we overshot the place and ended up at Teluk Gedung at the south-east end of Pangkor. Before we turned back, we took the opportunity to gawk at a new structure which was to be opened on the following day. I'm sure this floating mosque will become the island's newest tourist attraction.

From Teluk Gedung, we then backtracked along the same narrow road and ended at the ruins of a Dutch fort which we had missed earlier. Of course, the fort has long been abandoned but we were quite surprised at how small it was. According to wikipedia, the ruins are remnants of a Dutch outpost to control trade in the Malay peninsula. The fort was built in 1670 for storage and protection of tin supplies from the Perak Sultanate. It was destroyed in 1690 by the Malays who were discontented with the methods the Dutch used to obtain the ore. The fort was rebuilt in 1743 and a force of 60 Dutch soldiers was placed to guard it until 1748, when the force was disbanded and the fort abandoned. Since its reconstruction in 1973, it has been gazetted as an ancient monument and historical site. (Story continues after the pictures.)

We then travelled up the west coast of Pangkor to visit the other main tourist attraction, the Lin Je Kong (靈慈宮) temple, at the north-east of the island, passing through the touristy beach section. As this was practically during the heat of the mid-day sun and the Puasa season, the beaches were completely deserted.

The temple can be reached via a small lane from the main road. A small bay would be reached at the end of the lane. When we arrived, we saw a few families enjoying a swim in the bay. A glad respite from the afternoon heat, no doubt.

The main deity in this temple is Kuan Yin or the Goddess of Mercy. One can either choose to climb the outdoor staircase to the temple or walk along the waterfront, with waves lapping up the sea wall, passing by colourful statues of a frog, stork, turtle and a particularly dressed-up mouse, before climbing a second staircase. Both staircases would lead to the temple which would give the visitor a breath-taking view of the bay.

Finally, after the inevitable visit to the shopping district which was a stone's throw from the jetty, it was time to catch the ferry back to Lumut. We arrived back on the mainland at about five o'clock. All in, about six hours in Pangkor.

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