My childhood Pangkor - unforgettable!
by Michael Kypper
nipah bay - 30 years ago
Approaching Pangkor island from the South the shoreline was rugged and inaccessible. Waves broke on frothing rocks and a lonely light beacon stood guard to warn off straying ships. To Starboard the coast of Perak shimmered in the hazy heat and portside the Malacca Straits stretched endlessly dotted with fishing vessels and lonely sampans bobbing in the shimmering sun.
Pangkor was our favourite destination for outings on extended weekends in the 60ies and 70ies. We left in the motor boat from Bagan Datoh, a fishing village on the Perak River estuary, and rode the muddy tide until the brackish water was displaced by fresh green sea.
This was our cue to scramble out on deck and let soft salty breezes mix with the sun and zesty spray to smother our bodies.
Had we capsized the lot of us would have perished.
But this was a time of carefree recklessness, when we didn’t wear life vests. Fate was on our side and such disasters were unheard of.
En route to Pangkor we would pass Pulau Sembilan – the nine islands – in the near horizon. I would later learn that these were a paradise-like group of uninhabited islands which were perfect for diving and fishing. We went there once and roughed it with a tarp strung out under the canopy of palm trees, just beyond the high tide waterline.
Pangkor, however, in the 60’ies and early 70’ies did not lack for secluded beaches and coves and we could easily rely on our usual spots being completely isolated.
So much in fact, that we ran around in the nude without fear of someone showing up. Emerald Bay with the glaring white sands on the back of Pangkor Laut island was one of these sites. We anchored beyond the breaking surf and brought day provisions ashore in the inflatable dinghy and we dived from the roof of the boat into the clear almost transparent sea. Every child we knew and played with, was a strong swimmer from infancy and the challenge was soon on “last one in is a rotten egg”.
Picture slides from happy times on Emerald Bay is what’s left, but Pangkor still has its allure. A sort of secret place content in coming in second to the East Coast resorts.
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