Yunos and his boat

by Michael Kypper
(Copenhagen, Denmark)

For years and years during the 70’ies there was an ugly scar in the jungle growth. A clearing of land which was the beginning of the road now circling the entirety of Pangkor Island.
We noticed it first after arriving on an extended weekend once and anchoring just of Sea View hotel.

At the furthermost point where the beach ended they had cut down trees and left an empty stretch of yellow mud on the incline.
“Developments” we thought, “it can’t be helped”. And we feared for our little paradise, for what would the road bring with it.
Every time we came back, which was at least twice a year, we expected traffic on the hilly road, but every time it remained just that gash in the forest as if some contractor had resolved that this was not a promising future for Pangkor and halting the process.

On my return to Malaysia in 1988 I was pleased to see the road not yet completed and as far as I know the developments were not resumed until well into the 90’ies.

The road is there now, of course, and indeed it has brought with it the inevitable shops, and boat drivers, and hawker eating stalls. But there is still a serenity to the place, and thankfully so.
Only during school holidays and on weekends the crowds tend to huddle around the popular and slightly polluted beach around Pasir Bogak, where the grown ups timidly wet their feet, while the kids fling themselves into the surf.
Otherwise it is still possible to find secluded coves of peace.

And I was pleased during my 1988 visit to be able to hike the full 18 kilometres on dirt roads, paths, and along the beach meeting only a handful of locals on the way until I reached Sungei Pinang Kechil.
It was hot with the searing sun drawing sweat from my back and down my face, and of course I had brought far too little water to last the distance.

So in order not to overextend myself I found rest in the shades of massive casuarina trees which lined the Teluk Dalam beach. As I sat there in unison with my childhood Pangkor and reminiscing along the lines of our family heritage a man came to my side and hunched down.

His age was impossible to determine. With his lined, furrowed face and his lean sun- darkened body he could have been anything between 25 and 50. This was his break and he always came to this exact spot to recover from his morning toils. He brought along three ripe coconuts, tied together by the fibres. And adeptly he cracked open the first one with a parang to release the succulent, sweet juices, which he emptied in one go.
The second one he reserved for a long drink, to sip from and enjoy the taste and the third one was his contingency if any of the first two didn’t match his expectations. Fortunately they did making me the recipient of a much needed drink, which he proffered with generous hospitality.

We got to chatting, I asked him if he knew Yunos and he answered as I expected “who doesn’t?”
Yunos, I think this is the proper spelling, was in charge of water sports at the Sea View hotel. He was a descendant of a true Pangkor family who could backtrack their history to pirates and fisherman all over the Dindings. He was proud of his history and he carried himself with assuredness and a radiating sense of belonging.

It was a step down for Yunos to be servicing tourists and maintaining the water sports equipment, when all he really wanted was to be his own boss on his own boat.
And I was curious as to Yunos’ progress in his efforts to get his own tourist transportation operation.

The coconut man reassured me that Yunos had indeed put his resources together for the purpose of going into business and that the motor launch which was seen on dawn departures and dusk arrivals and hugging the coast was helmed by the owner himself, Yunos.
This is nearly 20 years ago and I am sure the good man Yunos is still taking tourists on day-trips around the island.

Perhaps someone knows?

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