Kampong Teluk Jawa is a very small settlement in the state of Johor, Malaysia. It has a very small Orang Asli (Aboriginal People) population whose residents make a living from fishing and selling their catch to the local market and restaurants nearby. Every evening, this quiet fishing village springs to life with visitors journeying here to eat on wooden platforms built at the edge of the sea.
Kampong Teluk Jawa has changed a lot over time. I remember my first-ever visit to Kampong Teluk Jawa some years back. My office colleagues and I wanted to satisfy our curiosity and experience the “aborigines restaurant on stilts”. There were only two open-air restaurants at that time.
Little did I know that getting there would be so difficult. The place was so isolated that I couldn’t find it in the street directory. Apple Maps, Google Maps, Waze and GPS were non-existent at that time. The restaurant that I was heading for was situated deep inside a rubber and oil palm plantation, away from the main road. The only way in was to follow an obscure dirt path and drive through a thick plantation for 1 kilometre to the end. I lost my way a few times before finally spotting the nondescript turning leading to Kampong Teluk Jawa!
If you have never driven along an estate road before, you might not realise that everything suddenly becomes dark the moment you exit from the main road. It may still be daylight outside but darkness simply takes over when you are in the forest. The narrow and bumpy path was squeezed between rows of rubber trees on both sides and the entire area was pitch dark. The place was quiet, except for the sound coming from my car engine. While cautiously making my way along what seemed like a never-ending track, I started to become anxious. I had no idea of where I was. What if a car came along from the opposite side? The road could not fit two cars. What if my car broke down? What if it was the wrong turning?
After an agonising one kilometre drive (it seemed more like 10 kilometres!), I came upon a moonlit clearing and was relieved to see some colourful lights dancing around the water’s edge. Civilization at last! Made it!… albeit two hours later!
In recent years, the road leading to Kampong Teluk Jawa has been paved and widened. There is a proper signboard to mark the exit from the main road and street lamps have been installed all the way to the seafront. The crowds continue to come, especially during weekends. There is just something magical about having seafood under an orange-blue sky while being serenaded by the soothing sounds of lapping waves.
The uniqueness of the restaurants lies in their prices and freshness of their produce. All seafood are sold live and customers can select their fish, crabs, prawns, lobster, stingray, squid, sea snails, clams and oysters from huge plastic tanks. Customers can even specify how they want their seafood cooked.
Today, the livelihood of the villagers is under threat due to modernization. But for the time being, the thought of having dinner with family and friends at Kampong Teluk Jawa is always something to look forward to!
“The journey of life starts from the sunrise of our birth, it shines through path of uncertainties. The ability to keep up with the brighter ways is the key to life satisfaction. Live your life but leave a mark in the sands of time”