We were invited to a wedding reception recently, at a place called Kong Kong Laut. Kong Kong Laut is situated on the banks of one of the tributaries of Sungai Johor (or the Johor River), and not that a distance away from the town and port of Pasir Gudang.
The town of Pasir Gudang itself is on the outskirts of Johor Bahru (JB), and despite the short distance, the length of the journey, be it from Pasir Gudang to Johor Bahru or from Johor Bahru to Pasir Gudang, can be quite arduous as it depends very much on traffic and time of the day.
And that is by the Pasir Gudang Highway, which is normally plied by trucks transporting containers to and from the Port of Pasir Gudang.
But since it was a Sunday, traffic was not expected to be heavy and sure enough, as expected, it wasn’t and we got to Kong Kong Laut in good time.
Wedding receptions, in my view, whether there are held at 5-star hotels or at the local community hall are all the same in that they are held to celebrate the couple dubbed ‘King and Queen for The Day’.
It’s also an occasion for joyous celebration and merriment as family members, friends and the basically the whole community, who may have not crossed paths for ages come together and amidst the merriment, get tucked in the sumptuous fare of the day whilst doing catch-up with each other.
For a Malay wedding, the standard fare would normally be nasi minyak (coloured rice cooked with ghee) with rendang daging (beef cooked with spice, desiccated coconut and coconut milk) with the usual side dishes.
The wedding reception was for my sister-in-law’s younger sister, who when planning for the reception, decided not to do with the services of an official wedding planner.
And so, as is with such occasions, the matriarch of the family gets designated as the wedding planner of the day with all the other ladies in her family designated as her assistants and assigned specific duties e.g. attending to guests, ensuring the served fare is always replenished, drinks are always available etc etc etc.
The best part of wedding receptions not held at hotels is that the family of the bride and the groom do not have to worry about offending anyone, accidentally or on purpose, as ALL are invited, whether a formal invitation had been extended or not.
Of course, when ALL are invited, the logistics of cooked food, drinks and space can be a nightmare and is normally one on most occasions.
But as is with all wedding receptions of this nature, all is forgiven at the end of the day, for most, if not all, have had the experience of how bad that nightmare can be and do not wish it on anybody else, IF we can help it.
As is with these kind of weddings where almost the whole village gets invited in addition to family members, space is quite limited.
To overcome the problem of space, it is the convention that once you have had your share of the sumptuous spread, you are expected to make way for other guests.
And so we did, and before long, after making our goodbyes and thank yous, we were on our back to Johor Bahru. But not before making a short stop over at the village’s main centre of attraction – the area surrounding the wooden jetty of Kong Kong Laut.
The wooden jetty of Kong Kong Laut serves as the business centre of the village, with eateries serving seafood fare as well as being the point of embarkation and disembarkation for they wanting for a spot of fishing at one of the many marine culture farms dotting the river.
The jetty also serves as as the drop-off point for produce from these farms to the different restaurants at the village centre.
In essence, Kong Kong Laut could be described as typical of any village or fishing settlement dotting the banks of Sungai Johor and the view from the jetty is no different to that from jetties at other villages.
In most cases, there would be fish farms galore, thus confirming that Sungai Johor at least , if not all the rivers in Johor, are not toxic or polluted and are therefore presumably safe for marine life.
Their operators would normally live on these floating farms with these farms normally stocking up on mussels, shrimps as well as snappers and garoupas, to say the least.
These fish farms would also, on most occasions, double up as fishing spots for fishing enthusiasts. Of course, for these enthusiasts, the lines go away from the fish farms AND NOT towards the farms themselves.
And since the fish farms’ operators also live on these farms, they also provide cooked food on order for these enthusiasts. Not a bad arrangement this.
There was a strong evening breeze coming in by the time we were strolling along the jetty. The tide was out and as we look down on the banks of the river, we could see small crabs darting from one opening to another.
What captured our interest was that these crabs all had one claw much larger than the other. Scientifically, I have no idea of their name or even that they have a name.
But whatever their name may be, scientifically or otherwise, the sight of seeing these small crabs darting around with one claw as big as their little bodies, does make for a comical sight.
Mud skippers too made their appearance, as we caught them making their way back to the water’s edge. Small in size and covered in mud and slime, I can’t imagine ever swallowing any one of them alive as was reported from one location very up north in the country.
Even if you wash them in clean water with a sprinkling of vinegar, soy sauce, lime and freshly sliced onions, still no deal.
The mud skippers must have sensed that we were not the mud skipper eating variety, and so they continued to skip to their hearts’ content.
It wasn’t long before we made our way back to Johor Bahru and that via the Pasir Gudang Highway. Traffic was still light and home was in matter of half an hour or so.
There’s another way to get to Kong Kong Laut and that is by the Senai Desaru Expressway (SDE). We have been to Kong Kong Laut via the SDE and admittedly, it makes for a faster journey. Not bad that.
But by the Pasir Gudang Highway or by the Senai Desaru Expressway, one thing is for sure. A visit to one of these villages where life is at a leisurely pace as compared to the city (even for JB) is refreshing and does re-charge your batteries.
Maybe next time, we’ll stop over for a night or two, staying in one of those ‘homestays’. That should be interesting, never mind refreshing.
Date : 16 June 2014