Year of the Rabbit cannot hop fast enough for pandemic-hit fishing village

Year of the Rabbit cannot hop fast enough for pandemic-hit fishing village

Kg Kukup Laut residents look forward to reunite with family for first restriction-free Chinese New Year

PONTIAN – To be able to have the whole family celebrating this Chinese New Year feels like a dream come true for Koh Lee, a mother of two who is expecting both her children to return home to observe the occasion together.

Like many other Tionghua communities living in remote Kg Kukup Laut, her family didn’t have the jolliest of celebrations in the past two years, mainly due to the movement restrictions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Of course, we still celebrated the (Chinese) New Year during the lockdown period but this weekend’s celebration will be quite special since we will be able to have the whole family back home for the first time during the festival,” the school janitor said when The Vibes spoke to her in front of her house on Tuesday.

The sun was almost unbearable at that time but Koh was all smiles while undertaking her chores in preparation for the big day.

She said that the usually quiet surroundings of this small fishing village near the southwestern tip of Johor will turn festive this weekend as the villagers’ children return home with their families.

Ang Yem (left) and Sky Ser are glad that the homestay they operate in the village have been fully booked for the Chinese New Year celebration this weekend. – IKHWAN ZULKAFLEE/The Vibes pic, January 20, 2023

Travellers and tourists too will be coming into town this weekend, with homestay operators saying that most of them are fully booked, and the price of putting up at the homestays here reaching RM200 per head for a two-night stay during the festival.

One of them, Ang Yem, 50, was glad that the village will once again be filled with visitors from near and far, comprising those coming to visit their relatives living here or tourists who come with their families to gather here during the Chinese New Year celebration.

“It’s been a while since we’re all fully booked,” said Ang, who was enjoying a conversation with his neighbour and fellow homestay operator, Sky Ser, when The Vibes approached them.

“It was definitely tough for us during the movement control order, with no visitors and nothing much to do to make a living back here,” he said, recalling how he resorted to trading fish at the market to put food on the table for his family back then.

Ang Kok Haw, 20, looks forward to being reunited with her ex-schoolmates who left town for work or to further their studies at the tertiary level. – IKHWAN ZULKAFLEE/The Vibes pic, January 20, 2023

Meanwhile, Ang Kok Haw, 20, looks forward to the return of her former schoolmates back in their hometown this weekend.

While she is working as a kitchen helper at one of the cafes operating at the entrance of the fishing village, it wouldn’t be long till she leaves the village as she had been accepted into a local university too.

“Most of my friends have left for their tertiary education, some in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, and there are others who went overseas too.

“It’s good to see familiar faces again and catch up with each other,” Ang said.

source – The Vibes

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