Pulau Ketam, or "Crab Island
", is a chinese fishing village located near Port Klang
. In Bahasa Melayu
, "Pulau" means "island", whilst "Ketam" means "crab".
Founded circa 1880, the entire village rests on stilts, separating them from the mud flats below. It's like a different world.
The main thoroughfares are narrow concreted pavements, whilst in the residential areas, the older rickety wooden plank bridges can still be seen.
You won't see a single car in Pulau Ketam, but you'll need to dodge the numerous bicycles that the locals use for transport within the village. Many of the bicycles are motorised, so keep to the left when walking around, unless you want to end up food for the crabs! Bicycles can also be rented by tourists.
While wandering around, keep an eye out for the crabs and walking fish hidden in the grey mud below. Also make sure you take at least a short detour through the residential section to get an idea of local village life.
The locals are mainly Hokkien Chinese, with Hokkien and Mandarin being the main spoken dialects.
Pulau Ketam is an ideal day-trip for the moderately adventurous international traveller. Very few Orang Putih's (white people) will be seen around the village, and it retains most of its friendly village atmosphere. It is a popular destination for local Malaysian holidayers, though, so the shops and restaurants are quite clean, and there are even modern conveniences such as a cybercafe.
However, the toilets are still the "hole-in-the-ground" squat variety, which any traveller through Malaysia will need to endure if they really want to get off the beaten track. May sure you take your own toilet paper! Unfortunately, Westerners will also probably suffer a "skin tax" from the local shopkeepers.
The Kuai Lok Hian restaurant, near the dock, is the biggest seafood restaurant in the village, and although it is also the most expensive (although still very affordable), it is certainly worth it for the great view and wonderful sea breezes.
Getting to Pulau Ketam from Kuala Lumpur is very easy. Catch the KTM commuter train (*NOT* the LRT) to Port Klang (last stop on the line). Once at Port Klang, follow the crowd to catch the ferry to Pulau Ketam. As of 2002 the ferry ride (one-way) should be RM5.50 (enclosed) or RM6.50 (open-air). Simply board the boat, and a ticket seller will come around once the boat leaves dock.
The best time to visit is in the morning, as the open-air ferry stops at 2pm, and it often rains in the afternoon. If you can, take the open-air ferry to the island, and the reasonably scary enclosed ferry back. The latter ferry, which is best described as a karaoke coffin, is certainly a bit of an adventure in itself :-)