Prawns, breadfruit, deer and an old pirate’s grave. These are just a few of the things that make a trip to Pulau Aman worthwhile for EWE PAIK LEONG.
FROM a distance, one could see colorful boats moored at the jetty, gently bobbing up and down. Scattered huts dot the land between the hills and the shore.
I am seated in a boat with other passengers, heading for Pulau Aman, a 115-hectare island that is home to a traditional Malay village.
Earlier, while chugging away from the mouth of Sungei Jawi, we passed a stretch of mangrove wetlands. Birds like the Milky Stork and Mangrove Pitta were seen wading on the mudflats, while Brahminy Kites soared overhead.
Rustic houses along the coastline stared at me blissfully. The sight was indeed serene and tranquil. Located 2.5 nautical miles off the Penang coast is Pulau Aman (Island of Peace).
The jumping point to the island is the one-street village of Bukit Tambun.
While waiting at the jetty for the boat to arrive, a kindly man approached and asked if I needed accommodation. Introducing himself as Zakaria Majid, he said he owned Teratak Desa chalet, and he suggested that I meet the village headman for some cerita about the island.
It was a good start to my visit to this verdant gem in the Straits of Penang.
Everything With Prawns
The boat stopped at Pulau Aman jetty at 1.20pm and we clambered out. We made our way to the “Kaunter Ticket” — actually a worn-out desk manned by a ticket seller. I paid the RM4 fare and went to the Restoran Sri Nelayan.
The specialty here is prawn — such as mee udang, nasi goreng udang, ketiaw udang, bihun goreng udang and so on.
I settled for mee udang istimewa, which meant it came with “additional prawns”. Wow! It was superb! Restaurant owner Abdul Halim Ayob, happily explained that the prawns were picked alive and kicking from cages before ending up in the kitchen. He proudly pointed to framed photographs on a wall showing VIPs like the Chief Minister of Penang and the Yang Di-Pertua Negeri having a meal there.
What To See
Exploring the island is fairly easy. A four-kilometre pathway snakes along its coastline. Near the new jetty, there are stretches of pebbled beaches shaded by coconut palms. This spot is just great for watching cobalt sunsets! A stretch of beach with coarse sand hugs the northern tip of the island; and here, there are kayaks for rent. (To get there, just follow the path signposted as Jalan Hujung Tanjung.)
The physically-inclined can hike to the top of the hill for a panoramic view of the Seberang Perai mainland. Otherwise just rent a bicycle and explore the quaint village.
Jalan Telaga Emas will lead you to an old well dating back to 1789. The story tells of a man who discovered a spring when digging on a beach. He decided to dig deeper to make a well for the villagers.
To his surprise, he found a golden vase. He rushed to the village to tell the others but when they went back to the spot, they found only gold-colored stones.
When British officials heard of the incident, they hired some villagers to search for the gold-colored stones. Samples were sent for analysis and the results showed they were not gold after all. Digging was stopped when a depth of 2.3 metres was reached. Many visitors draw water from the well to bathe in as it is believed that it will bring them good luck.
Another interesting sight is the “oldest” planted sukun (breadfruit) tree in the country. Yaakub Talib, the village headman, was kind enough to show me the tree. According to a noticeboard nearby, it was planted in 1891 by a Tok Awang Akib.
Sukun trees fruit in February, March and April. The fruit is sliced and deep-fried into crackers. You can buy sukun crackers before you leave the island.
As part of my mini tour of the village, Yaakub also introduced me to his two pet deer, which were sometimes allowed to roam free.
He said that for more sights, one should hire a boat to nearby Pulau Gedung.
For only RM60, the boat can accommodate 12 people. The island was the base of a pirate captain named Panglima Garang who plundered the nearby seas. At the top of the island lies a grave, the pirate’s final resting place.
On the beach is a cave named Gua Lanun where he was said to have hidden his loot. A World War II ammunition depot is also found nearby.
Finally, no trip to Pulau Aman would be complete without a fishing excursion or a visit to the offshore kelong. Just enquire at the ticketing counter at the jetty for the different packages available.
Where To Stay
Homestay programmes as well as beachfront chalets are available. For enquiries, please contact Pulau Aman Fishermen Association at 04-530 7185. Two recommended chalets are Teratak Desa Chalet (016-413 7159, 04-530 7185) and Bougainvillea Chalet (04-530 6501).
From Georgetown, drive south along the North-South Highway to the coastal village of Bukit Tambun (about 20kms). From here, boats depart for Pulau Aman at 10am, 1pm, 4pm and 7pm. The return journey is 8am, noon, 3pm and 6pm. The fare is RM4 for adults and RM2.50 for children.
Map and Location of Pulau Aman (Island of Peace):