Heritage tourism with fishing huts

Rokiah Mahmud

In the Tutong dialect, a fishing lodge is called an alan madas, and there is one such fishing lodge named Pangkalan Waris at Kampong Penapar in Tanjong Maya. The recreational spot not only has a fishing area for fish enthusiasts but is also a leisurely place with a peaceful, relaxing environment.

Owned by former educator Haji Samihon bin Haji Kechi, the fishing lodge was built in 2015. His primary objective for setting up the area was to provide a spot for those who love to fish. However, a tragedy occurred when flood hit the whole village, destroying most of the villagers’ property, including the fishing spot.

Haji Samihon, who was the first special education officer in Brunei, saw the potential of the place and he turned the fishing spot into a recreational area where the public can enjoy the green laid-back scenery, while fishing.

Haji Samihon named it Pangkalan Waris as he intends to preserve the heritage passed down from his ancestors and share his knowledge with the younger generation.

‘’There used to be lanting (a platform for fishing), but since it was dilapidated, I made a new one. I worked on all these facilities myself. I built all the pondok (huts) myself,” he said.

“Rather than fixing the lanting, I decided to build fishing huts, which are much safer, so that fishing enthusiasts can have a more comfortable area to fish.

“It took me a while to complete the construction, but I am satisfied with my effort and this will be my heritage for future generations.

Fishing rod holders are provided in every hut at Pangkalan Waris. PHOTO: BAHYIAH BAKIR

“Currently, there is a government project building flood barriers at the side of Pangkalan Waris, therefore, the operation is still closed to visitors. Due to COVID-19 pandemic, I also decided not to open the area for the time being. There were some fishing enthusiasts who asked when will I open Pangkalan Waris, but I prioritise safety so I will share once everything is back to normal.”

At Pangkalan Waris, several facilities and amenities are provided, including the fishing huts, restrooms, prayer area, barbecue stands, as well as a hut specifically for organising meetings or retreats, and family day activities.

The fishing huts are named in the Tutong dialect to feature the uniqueness of the dialect while also promoting it.

Pondok Kelangpapo can accommodate up to two people; Pondok Buku Taba and Pondok Bamban can accommodate up to three persons; Pondok Geranchai is for four people; Bua Lengging can manage up to six people; and Pesik Unggang can accommodate up to 15 people.

“I intended to build more fishing huts in the future so that more visitors can fish or relax here,” Haji Samihon said.

“We also provide fishing lessons for children.”

Over the years, Pangkalan Waris has received tourists from Ukraine, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Australia, China, Japan, Turkey and more.

“I am planning to open a homestay so that visitors can spend their night here enjoying the night scenery as well as joining activities that we organise at Pangkalan Waris.”

Apart from managing Pangkalan Waris, Haji Samihon also has several collections that he keeps at a house called Lamin Kampung. The word Lamin derives from a Tutong dialect referring to a house or residential area. He preserves the traditional features and characteristics of a village house there.

Located adjacent to the house he lives in, Lamin Kampung was built around 2011 and was fully constructed by Haji Samihon.

Haji Samihon learnt all the techniques and skills to build a home from his grandfather and father.

“When I was young, my grandfather and father taught me carpentry and woodwork skills.

They also taught me how to pukat or catch birds and make bubu (a fish trap made from bamboo),” he said.

“These skills have helped me lead my daily life of not depending on others to build or repair our house.”

At Lamin Kampung, Haji Samihon keeps all his mementos and galleries comprising old pictures, creative writings and books that he wrote. He also keeps his private collection items inlcuding an old television, classic sewing machine and folding chair that he collected from the 60s.

“Every picture tells a different story and has beautiful memories. I feel so proud and happy keeping all these pictures in my galleries so that I can share with visitors,” he said, adding that he was also one of the active photographers back in the 1970s.

Feeling grateful and blessed with what he has achieved, Haji Samihon hopes that all the efforts can be appreciated by many, and hopes that the heritage he shared can provide ample knowledge to the young generation on how life was way back.