What's the best way to experience how the locals live? Well, the best way is to stay with them. But if you're there only for a day trip, the next best thing you can do is to walk around the living areas of town.
The people there will not greet you with open arms, but as the dwellers know each other well, the doors are generally left opened.
Located in the seas of Kukup are about 50 or so fish farms. It is also known as "Kelongs" Beyond just raring fishes, the entrepreneurial fish farmers have combined their daily work with hosting of tourists on their fish farms. As the fish farm was located in the seas between Kukup Laut and Pulau Kukup, we were brought to the fish farm via a ferry.
It was a real eye opener with the various fishes that they were raring.
From his fishing net, the fish farm owner dredged out a shark. The owner was giving a running commentary about the shark but I was busy taking pictures. So what did he say? I really do not know. But my, what big mouth and nostrils the shark has.
No wonder I'm such a bad student in school. Totally distracted.
Can Asian just think beyond food? Yes, the roe of these sea urchins are edible. But cast your eyes beyond them ending in your tummy, and what you will see are spiney creatures that are rounded in shape. The spines might not kill a person, but stepping on a sea urchin is as good as putting pins into the sole of your feet, and boy, will that hurt.
We had a pretty good view of a crab of distinct look known as a Horseshoe Crab. I've seen these crabs only in my science books and now, I'm face-to-face with a pre-historic creature!
Built like a tank, horseshoe crabs are largely unedible, except for its legs (Barely get enough meat from them). Talking about legs, these creatures have the amazing ability to regrow their lost limbs. Cool! Also, the horseshoe crabs use their long blade-like tails to flip themselves the right side up if they are ever up side down. What a tongue twister.
It's not all about the boatride, nor is it about the scorching sun, but it's all about what is in the fishing net. This fish farm owner that we had visited has about 50 nets altogether, and each net would have cost him about RM500. That means that his investment would be like a kazillion dollars!
I was told that they would grow various types of fishes to sell to both the Malaysian and Singaporean market. For those who want your fishes fresh, you might want to see if the owners are able to sell you some of these fishes at a good discount.
Walking around the small town of Kukup, you will come across a brightly-painted building that houses the gods. Strategically-located to face the sea, it is said that the fishermen will first have to pray to the gods to ask for blessings before they head out to sea.
Most of the time, education is the key to eradicating poverty. Seemingly not all the time, especially for this fishing village of Kukup. I understand from my guide that the fish farmers generally earn two to three times more than an office worker, though they don't flaunt it.
But raring fishes is not their only passport to survival, thus kids are still sent to school to learn their ABCs. Along the main road is Ken Boon Chinese Primary School. Established in 1926, the school has continually provided the settlement of Kukup with proper education.
Do stop to speak to the students or just to take a picture or two with the kids.
Just 800m off the coast of Kukup is Pulau Kukup... The island is a notorious hideout form pirates in olden times... Sprawing over 750ha, Pulau Kukup is the second largest mangrove island in the world... The island is a protected nature reserve since 1997 and named the Pulau Kukup Johor National Park...
To get to the island, you can take a ferry at RM5 per head... You can take a ferry for the 15mins from the Restoran High King at the end of the main road... You will have to pay an additional RM5 if you want to stop over at any of the fish farms on the way... A boardwalk is constructed for visitors to experience and more about the the mangrove swamp... Informative signs are positioned to point out the difference species of mangrove... There is also a 6-level watchtower for visitors to get a bird's eye view of the vastness of the island...
Kukup aka Kukup Laut is a floating village like Pulau Ketam off the coast of Port Kelang in Selangor... The similarity ends here as Pulau Ketam is an island while Kukup is by the coast on the mainland... The floating village is just behind the row of stalls on the main road to the town's jetty... The whole village, comprising residential houses, schools, restaurants, shops and temples hovers on piles over tidal waters... A maze of planks walkways serves as road for the villagers...
However, later development of the village is on firm land as Kukup expands with the times and cater for more tourists to this little village... It hasnow become a town!!!
Kukup and its surrounding area are inhibited by seafaring people and most are fishermen... In days of old, they go to sea everyday to earn a livelihood... The perils at sea are always there and the populance will need divine protection... They will pray in temples before going to sea for good harvest... and pray again when they return for their safe journey back to land... They will also pray for the blessings of Heaven for whatever havest they get from the sea...
It is for this reason that you will see many Chinese temples in Kukup itself, as well as on the coastal road from Pontian Kechil to Kukup... Many of them are small, simple temple buldings unlike the glamorous ones you see in many fo the bigger towns in the country... They serve a purpose and give peace of mind to the local Chinese populance its serves...
The suspension bridge straddles Sungai Ular and spans 30m across.
From the middle of the suspension bridge, you may take very beautiful pictures of Kukup village on the mainland and the red jetty.
At the end of the broadwalk is the six-storey high tower which is 30m tall.
At level 6, you will have an excellent bird’s eye view of the island. The treetops and the neighboring islands seems so quiet and peaceful.
This is a good place for bird watching. Bring your binoculars along.
There are warnings signs posted around the aery. Do note that only 5 persons are allowed on each floor at any one time.
You could cover the whole of Pulau Kukup - Johor National Park by walking along the 800m of boardwalk which takes you around the east part of the island.
From the boardwalk you may observe the mangrove life and different types of vegetation on the forest floor. There are signboards at every station to give some explanation of the mangrove forest.
The whole journey will take you at least an hour if you stop to see, read, hear and smell the nature around you.
Pulau Kukup - Johor National Park is one of the largest uninhabited mangrove islands in the world.
Take a boat ride of RM5.00 to get to this place. Do take note that the last entry is at 4.30pm.
There is a further RM5 admission charge to the Mangrove Park.
Opens daily from 9am to 5pm.
We took the last ferry there and the park rangers locked up the park immediately when we left at 5.30pm.