| Shahminan Ibrahim |
Building a model or replica boat, no doubt, requires a lot of time and patience. Made of small-scale pieces, the models are intricately assembled all by hand. While the construction process differs from how life-sized wooden boats are built, it still requires some expertise nonetheless.
One of the few local Bruneians who are into making model boats (or Perahu as it is called in local Malay) is Hj Abdul Rahim bin Hj Ahmad from Kampong Mentiri in Jalan Kota Batu. What he initially started as a passing interest while he was still working has now become a serious hobby for him.
The 64-year-old ex-policeman collects woods for his models from the local sawmills at reasonable prices. The woods he normally uses are Meraka Merah, Meraka Putih, Kayu Kapur and the tough and sensitive wood of Madang Sisik.
Hj Abd Rahim produces numerous types of local boats in different sizes. He has basically made all types of Brunei boats such as Perahu Lumba that comes with oars, Perahu Nelayan or the fisherman’s boat and small rowing boat known as Bidar Laki and Bidar Bini (which is male and female respectively).
He has also made Perahu Tambang or the water taxi complete with the engine and fuel tank and also the Temuai Beratap or boat called Temuai with roof. Depending on how much time he has on his hands, he can even complete one reasonably complex replica in four days.
In order to improve the result of his product, this rather chatty and smiley replica builder uses a complete set of tools including several electrical machines such as grinder and saw.
According to him, all the boats are available for purchase. While some personnel from the government departments approach him personally to make their purchase, most of these models are sold on consignment basis at several shops in Sumbangsih Mulia building in Beribi.
Apart from keeping the models as displays in the living room, some buyers have also converted some of the large-sizes models into food trays. While some buyers made their purchase as gifts for their foreign friends.
Prices, on the other hand, vary and are determined by the sizes and complexity of each model. It usually ranges from $50 to as high as above $200. Sizes of these mini replicas range from as small as around nine inches in length to as big as four feet long.
As a rather serious replica boat hobbyist, this cheerful retiree spends most of his free time, especially during the weekend, in his workshop plying his special trade.
Other than replica of boat, Hj Abd Rahim also produces models of houses which are also available for sale. Just like the boats, their prices also depend on the size and the complexity of the models.