Saturday, April 02, 2011

Labuan's intriguing water village

By Rosli Abidin Yahya

Just like Brunei, a trip to the island of Labuan is not complete without visiting the unit and intriguing water villages or Kampung Air.

Visitors may be forgiven if they are still thinking that water villages mean traditional wooden houses on stilts joined by a maze of inter-connecting wooden walkways.

The houses may still made of wood and built on stilts.

But a touch of colours has changed the look of the houses.

The houses at Labuan Kampung Air are now painted with a variety of bright colours.

And at least in three villages - Kampung Patau-Patau 1, Kampung Patau-Patau 2 and Kampung Lajau - the maze of inter-connecting walkways is now made of concrete.

There is no danger for villagers and visitors falling into the water when the wooden planks gave in.

The concrete walkways are also wide and connect hundreds of houses.

Metal rail guards are now fixed to the sides of the concrete walkways so that the people has a sense of security when walking on the walkways.

At Kampung Patau-Patau 2, there is even a road leading to the village.

Thanks to a land reclamation project, most of the water villages are now accessible by road.

A huge car park was also built for the villagers so they can park their cars near to their houses.

The residents of Kampung Patau-Patau 2 are mainly Brunei Malays.

Almost every house still has its own boat. They also added a car to their collection so they can go to town by road.

The houses can be quite large and they all have a cool veranda in front.

Some are eye-catching with pots of brightly coloured bougainvillea and orchid flowers.

At one house, the owner also has a garden which he named Taman Romantika.

The villages are made up of large communities with shops, mosques and other facilities.

Kampung Patau-Patau 2 was established in the 1930's.

According to the residents, the whole village was wiped out by a Japanese bomb during World War II.

The resilient villagers rebuilt the village from scratch once the war was over.

The architecture and concept of the water village dates back to their ancestors in Brunei.

To this day, the water village residents incorporate their Bruneian culture and customs into their daily lives.

The old people still go to the seas to catch fish. Crabs are also caught using a large 'pintur' which they line up along the river.

At least a few of the old folks also make boats, just like the boat industry in the water villages of Brunei.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

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