Monday, 12 April 2010

Teluk Mata Ikan - a fishing Kampong in Batam.

as most of our friends know, we frequently go to the Indonesian island of Batam. We stay at Nongsa Village which is quite near the Nongsapura Ferry Terminal. Within that area is also the Nongsa Point Marina, Turi Beach Resort, Nongsa Village and a local fishing village called Teluk Mata Ikan.

Translated means Fish Eye Bay. Teluk is Bay, Mata is Eye and Ikan is fish.

 This local fishing village is not far from Nongsa Village and can be reached via the road or along the beach at low tide by foot. We walked to Mata Ikan early one morning last weekend ..... it is a rare sight to see westerners walking in this area and so we were a source of entertainment to the fishermen and their families as we wandered along the waters edge at low tide!

Teluk Mata Ikan is not a modern village with all the 'mod cons' that most of us take for granted, so do not expect to see any thing that would be acceptable in Singapore or any major city in the world.  These people live to a different standard to what we are accustomed to in the western world.

These dwellings are their homes ....  and the homes we have been inside are kept spotlessly clean and tidy. Regardless of how little they may have materialistically.

But as we walk along the beach side - which is the back area of their homes - we see where lack of education or knowledge on how to care for the environment and their own health and safety plays a major part. We found it very sad but also realise we cannot interfere in the way they live their lives.

We love these people, they are the kindest people you could ever wish to meet. We never hear a cross word said between them, they are always happy and willing to share a meal with us. So we find it hard to accept that this is how they live ..... but who are we to inflict our standards on these people?

Are we any better?

We must learn to accept others as we find them and not judge them on their homes, their color, lack of education, money, their race or even what country they come from.

Our education standards are much higher and so we have the knowledge available to us on how we should live and behave in our community. But honestly, I think most of us could learn a lot from the people of Teluk Mata Ikan. They know how to share, they know how to laugh, they know how to smile, they know how to say hello and they know what living in a community means.

There are groups in Singapore - including the Rotary Club- and Batam that seem to be doing community work with this local fishing village .... one being the Singapore Polytechnic students. Not so long ago they did a ten day project known as "Mata Ikan 360" which is sponsored by Kris Wiluan, Patron of Yayasan Citramas. Part of the Student In Free Enterprise (SIFE) initiative, the project aims to improve the livelihood of residents via fish farming at this tiny village called Telok Mata Ikan, in Batam.

The students participating in the project was a multidisciplinary team, coming from the School of Architecture and the Built Environment, the School of Business and the School of Chemical and Life Sciences. Also lending a hand were SP staff from the Department of Industry Services.

The project challenged students to figure out how to accomplish various tasks. Starting from scratch, they had to brainstorm and apply their knowledge to build fish cages and a floating pontoon.

The students endured sleepless nights sewing nets, and tiring days sawing and joining the pipes and wood. Not only that, they had to use testing kits to ensure that the pond water quality (on which the survival of fishes was dependent) was kept in check and devise portable water filters that fit behind the village houses, to filter the dirty domestic water that flowed into the pond.

But these sorts of projects are ongoing and cannot be left to one or two groups of people. These people need help where and when anyone can give it.

To see these villages one needs to be on foot or bicycle, in 2004, "marsel-batam" wrote an article in IgoUgo about walking and biking on Batam. For this area along the Nongsa coast, he wrote the following:

Nongsa coast: from Teluk Mata Ikan to Batu Besar (BB)
This stretch of coast has some quite untouched sections, which are doable on foot or mountain bike. An ideal walk starts from a halfway point between TMI and BB, which can be reached by car on a sunny day. Driving from Batu Besar, find the crossroads located a couple of hundred meters after the Citra Mas housing estate. Turn right and follow this road for awhile, and then start looking for a 90-degree turnoff to the right (the second one will bring you to the seaside, where you can see the sea from the turnoff). Send the car to wait for you at the Rezeki Kelong seafood restaurant at Batu Besar. There are village people mining sand in this area, so just walk south, following the coast, and you will soon get to the Batu Besar. Your first obstacle is the headland at the end of the beach. At low tide, you can walk around this headland to the next village. During high tide, walk up the hill until you see what was once a road off to your left. The walk on the hill is better than the coastal walk.

Take a few days to explore this beautiful area and meet some of the lovely people that call Batam- HOME.



Leonny said...

Thanks for sharing, Leone!

I especially agree with the part where you said we need to learn from these people ... whom may lack the education and all, but have the sincere heart to share and live in a community.


Natalie said...

Good stuff, and wonderful photos too. Thanks for sharing with us!

Anonymous said...

It's great!!.............................................