Friday, October 23, 2009


Went to a kelong for the first (and probably the last) time in my life. Decided to be a bit more adventurous and brave the very basic living and toilets in a kelong. Although I actually wanted to go to Penang and eat all the delicious food, the air fare to Penang was $238 before taxes, and that's without accommodation.
A kelong is an off shore structure for fishing purposes, and I think there's none left in Singapore, so we had to go to Malaysia to see and stay in one.
Jetty - where we took our boat to the kelong. The place where we took the boat is a very ulu kampung - they have cows and chickens running around.
Fresh catch of the day - the fishes are quite big The kelong. It's actually quite a big place, with lots of different 'rooms' which can sleep around 15-20 people. The floor is all made up of wooden planks, and there's some little gaps (for people to drop mahjong tiles into:P) in between the tiles, but none which are wide enough to fall or loose your slipper through. The dining area is pictured on the top right hand corner, and it's like those tze char stall kind of table and plastic chairs. It's quite clean, except for the annoying flies swarm around during mealtime.
Bottom Left: A whole shelf of life jackets, in case the kelong sinks in a storm?
Bottom Right: Free flow drinks - filtered water, coffee, tea and orange juice.
Sleeping area - can probably sleep around 15 people comfortably. Fish thinks that it's like the foreign workers dormitory in Singapore. At least the bedsheets looked and felt clean. And the mattress wasn't those super thin kind where you'll ache after sleeping on your side.
There's at least 5 other huge rooms like this located all around the kelong, so I suppose they can accommodate a lot of people.Left: The many containers of rain water - which is used for washing and bathing.
Right: The net in the middle of the kelong - it's raised using a generator, and the fish in it are all scooped out using a net attached to a very long pole. At night, they will shine a very bright light over the net, and catch lots and lots of fish (apparently the light attracts the fish).
At night, the kelong is brightly lit, probably for the safety of the guests - the sea is pitch black and there arent any lights visible around the kelong (perfect setting for a ghost/horror story).
Lots and lots of small fishes in the sea around the kelong, but I think I'm too noob so the fishes all didn't want to eat my bait. Or maybe they were too full because the toilets all flush straight into the sea?? I don't want to know...
Sadly, I didn't manage to catch a single fish, and ended up playing lots of mahjong instead of trying to catch fishes. And I think we are all growing old and tired, so we slept from around midnight till nearly 9am the next day.
The TOILETS. Some of the sinks have taps, but then after a while, the water supply ran out, so we had to use pails of water to wash our hands. The water in the huge tub is used for bathing and flushing the toilet. There was lots of sediments inside, but the water on top is reasonably clean. Unfortunately, when I was bathing, the water level was pretty low, and at the end of my bath, I realized that the water I was bathing in was all brown and gross. It's like how people bathe during water rationing... I think you can request for hot water for your bath if you really want, and they will boil a hugeass kettle of hot water and pour it into the tub of rainwater.
Btw, there's a picture of the sitting toilet (middle picture) on their website. It's not too bad, not stinky but quite wet, since you have to scoop water to flush it.
At least the toilet drained (straight into the sea) quite well (read somewhere online that someone went to a kelong which had a toilet which didn't drain well, and she was standing in her bath water eeks!)... Now that I'm thinking about it, I think all the fishes in the sea have to swim in my shampoo, conditioner and soap... Luckily I didn't think so much when I was there, or I wouldn't have enjoyed my ikan kuning during breakfast.
Onto happier things: The FOOD. The food here is very simple - for lunch, we had some small fish in assam sauce, stir fried squid with onions and garlic, wintermelon soup, beansprouts and some chicken in black sauce.
We also had a teatime snack, which was yellow noodles stir fried with squid (didn't get a picture of this cos I was trying very unsuccessfully to fish).
Dinner was a huge steamed fish (don't know what kind of fish), omelets, prawns in spicy sauce, stir fried vegetables and fishball soup.
Actually, we were also supposed to have a seafood bbq (RM 25 extra per person), but somehow when we booked, the message wasn't relayed to the people in the kelong, so we didn't have a bbq in the end.
Supper was cheng teng.
Breakfast was nasi lemak, which was the best meal I had there. The rice had nice coconut fragrance, and the ikan kuning was crispy and tasted pretty fresh (compared to those over fried, extremely hard kind found in the pre-packed nasi lemak packets). I ate 4-5 pieces of ikan kuning, and after that, was extremely scared that I'll get some fecal-oral bacterial/viral transmission cos I'm pretty sure the fish was what they scooped up the night before.
Unless you're a hard core fisher, you should either know how to play mahjong, or be really enthusiastic about karaoke (especially all the oldies) before you go to a kelong. Cos there's nothing else to do there.
My many cat photos and a cow photo, which I took while waiting at the ulu kampong village next to the jetty, cos our bus driver took 1 hour to come and fetch us. And in the process, we probably got ripped off by the coffeeshop lady, who sold me a packet of milo for RM$2. Not sure if this is the real price of packet milo in Malaysia?
For 2D1N, we paid RM170 (including meals), and the transport from Singapore to the jetty was SGD$350 for 10 people (but since we had 9 we paid $39 per person). The kelong we stayed in is called Kelong Acheh, and is quite near Mersing.
I think that I'm quite glad to have seen a kelong cos it was an interesting experience, but I will definitely not want to stay in another kelong ever again. (I bet all the old people are going to say young people now a days live too cushy lives blablabla need to experience what they went through last time blablabla... if you want to live like how you lived in 1930 40 50s just migrate to North Korea cos they're stuck in a time warp...). Overall, my kelong stay exceeded my insanely low expectations (was expecting much worse). I think if it had been a school trip when I was in primary or secondary school, I would have hated it, but I suppose it's always funner if you're not coerced into it?
And if you're going, I suggest going for 2D1N cos it's really long enough. I got really sleepy around 7pm cos there was nothing to do except to fish or play mahjong, sing (very retro songs) karaoke or realaxxxxxxxxx. And please bring your own toilet paper (but don't flush it down to the sea!) cos they didn't have any in the toilets (don't know why! Maybe can ask? Luckily we 'collected' toilet paper from somewhere along the way or I'd have been most upset!)



ice said...

The website descriptions sound & look nicer than your experience. But it's an interesting stay!

His Food Blog said...

Been wanting to visit one - looking at the fresh seafood makes me hungry (although I don't really wanna know the process at how they were caught and what happen before that. Heh!)

Thanks for the great post!

Miso said...

Interesting experience on your kelong trip. I stayed at a Kelong before too... but a more commercialized one, with air-con room and karaoke facilities. The food not bad too, we had lobster and bbq :)

m said...

ice: yup I think it's v interesting too bad I didn't have the seafood bbq!
hfb: lol ignorance is bliss! glad you enjoyed reading it. Hopefully you'll get to visit one soon :)
miso: drats! If I had known there was a kelong with aircon, I'll definitely go there! saw ur picts - looks like you had lots of fun :)