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Palm tree shaded island

  • Traditional Mah Meri houses. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • Mah Meri woman are good at weaving. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • A Mah Meri woman is preparing dyes for their weaved products. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • The Mah Meri celebrate Hari Moyang on 16 March. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • Mobile phone sets and bookmarks are among the weaved products. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • The "shark sword" is a treasure for the only Chinese temple on the island. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • The only Chinese temple on Carey island. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • The only Chinese temple on the island is filled with visitors. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • The only Chinese temple on the island is located at the end of the wooden bridge surrounded by mangrove. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • Some temple visitors take sampan from neighbouring island. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily

Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily

Most visitors do not know that Carey Island, located off the west coast of Peninsula Malaysia in the Kuala Langat district of Selangor state, is actually an island as it is separated from the mainland only by the meandering Langat River.

One of the obvious geographical feature is, all vehicles on land need only to cross a bridge to reach the island without taking a boat to cross the river. Visitors will be greeted by a wide sea view when they go straight all the way to the end of Jalan Pulau Carey after cross the bridge.

The Mah Meri, an Orang Asli tribe, is the majority resident on Carey Island. There are five villages and the largest village is called Kampung Sungai Bumbun.

According to local villagers, it was once called Curry Island as during the British colonial era, many Indian workers were sent to the Island by the colonial government. The aroma of curry would filled the air during meal time and thus, they called it the Curry Island.

However, another saying is closer to the fact, that it, the island is named after Valentine Carey, a successful British coffee and rubber planter who cleared the land for agricultural purposes over 100 years ago. And since "Carey" and "curry" have close pronunciations, some were confused and called it Curry Island.

Valentine Carey established a company on the island and recruited 90% of Indians from South India for 40 years. However, the development of the island was affected by tiger infestation and the infectious disease of malaria. To solve labour shortage, he started to recruit aborigines on the island, namely the Mah Meri tribe, to clean land, as well as build road, water culverts, detached houses and dormitories for South Indian workers.

The one and only Chinese temple

Many people might not be able to imagine that there is only one Chinese temple on the Island. The temple was surrounded by mangroves and we could see plantation workers collecting oil palm fruits along the way to the temple.

Since the mud road leading to the temple is a private property of Sime Darby Group, outsiders are forbidden to enter without permission. Therefore, some visitors would take sampan from neighbouring island or land.

Aboriginal villager Zuraidah, 34, said that their customers usually order a large number of handicrafts like bookmarks and mobile phone sets. They would work together and send some people to deliver the completed products.

"I dropped out of school when I was studying in Form Two as I was not interested in studying and not good in Mathematics. However, at least I have mastered Bahasa Malaysia and understand a little bit of English, such as 'order', 'alright' and other simple terms.

"My father is a Muslim, but I am not. They do not force us to believe in Islam, but grant us the freedom of religion.

"Even if one day I am given an opportunity to work in Kuala Lumpur, I will not take it as I have accustomed to the environment here," she added.

 

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