Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer


Friday, August 12, 2005
In our chat room yesterday, the lively conversation turned to the subject of islands in the South China Sea. Sangkelate wanted me to blog about the names of the "pulau" in Terengganu. Offhand, I do not recall the name of all the islands but I am confident that our ever faithful Derumo will fill in the gaps, as usual. If not today, tomorrow.
Now where do I start. Ok, lets start from Kuala Terengganu. The capital is always a good place to start anything. There is a pulau right in town. It is called Pulau Kambing even though only one part of it has a large body of water which is the Terengganu river. Probably a long time ago, it was an island and inhabited by goats. Pulau Kambing now is the "industrial" part of the town with factories and godowns. The first ice factory is near here. Further up we have the sweetest island in Trengganu, Pulau Manis. We also have the lightest island in the state, Pulau Sekati. The metric system hasn't affected its name. Nobody wants to call the island Pulau Sekilo. Then we have Pulau Rusa. In the coffee shops of Kedai Payang they are still debating whether to translate this "island" as Deer Island or Lonely Casuarina Island. In the river opposite Kuala Terengganu we have small islands like Pulau Wang Mbong and Pula Wang Mang named after its owner or the early inhabitant. Pulau Duyong, the big island nearby, the famous boat-building place was probably named after the mythical mermaid which Terengganu people call ikang duyong.

Now we go past the river mouth and if you look right, you can see Pulau Kapas and a smaller sibling, Pulau Gemia. There is no cotton grown on Pulau Kapas.the only cotton you can find would be the cotton buds left behind by untidy visitors. Legends has it that long ago, when the people of Marang looked across the sea, they saw the island (which was unnamed then) covered in soft fluffy white foam. They thought it looked like "kapas" (cotton wool) and they decided to call the island Pulau Kapas. As for the smaller island, there was a gemia ( a thumb-size sour fruit) tree on it so naturally it was known as Pulau Gemia. Afterthe resort was built, the island is sometimes called Gem Isle in advertisments. Further right, in front of Dungun, there is a bigger island called Pulau Tenggol. I am not sure what "tenggol" means. I am afraid to ask. The island has nice diving spots although the currents can get pretty dangerous sometimes.
If you look to the left, you can see many more islands. There is Bidong Laut which used to be a center for Vietnamese refugees. Bidong Darat is a big hill on the mainland, facing it. Old people in Merang used to tell me that the island and the hill are part of the stuff carried on the yoke (kandaran) of Sang Kelembai, a giant. Sang Kelembai dropped the load for inexplicable reasons. One became the island, the other became the hill. Right. In front of Pulau Bidong is a small island called Pulau Karah. Turtles that Terengganu people call Penyu Karah used to land on this island for maternity reasons. Behind Pulau Bidong are two islands whose waters are infested by sharks of various temperaments. So, they call the island after these creatures. The bigger one is Pulau Yu Besar (Big Shark) and the smaller one Pulau Yu Kecik. To the right of Pulau Bidong ( looking from the mainland) you can see Pulau Redang. For those newsreaders, Redang is pronounced as ray-dung and never rur-dung. They always make me radang with the wrong pronounciation.If you want to pronounce it the native way, say ghe dang. Redang is named after a tree, so I have been told. Then there is Lang Tengah. There is no Lang Tepi so I have to find out the origin of the name. Maybe it was named after a a midlle-born lang (eagle). Further up, nearer to Setiu, there is a lump of rock in the sea called Pulau Gelok (The Jar Island.) On a hazy day, it looks like a jar. Then nearer to Perhentian Island, there is an island still untouched by greedy developers. I used to fish here. Cik Awang, my guide told me the island is called Susu Dara which may or may not mean a virgin's breast. But I hope and pray the island will remain dara (virginal) for a long time. Then nearer to the mainland, just across Bukit Keluang in Besut is Pulau Rhu which used to be our place to stop for prayers during our fishing trips. Pulau Rhu has a lot of snakes and the beach has a lot of dead corals. The last (but not least) Terengganu island would be Perhentian. Perhentian means a stop, a station. Fishermen used the island as a refuge from bad storms. One of the smaller islands in the Perhentian group is called Pulau Pinang. Do not expect nasi kandar here though.
I will leave the landlocked "islands" such as Pulau Kerengge to Derumo.