Villages on the water in Pulau Bintan-3 : Penyengat Island
(Pulau Bintan, Indonesia)
When I went around Penyengat Island, I felt the brightness of the air.
After of a boat trip of 15 minutes from Tanjung Pinang, the flat Penyengat Island covered with green appeared.
Compared with the large Tanjung Pinang town, the small island with a population of 2,200 seems to be an insignificant place, but in reality, it is a venerable land where the royal family of Johor, who was driven from the Malay peninsula by the invasion of Portugal, found the capital at the beginning of 16th century. In the period when Singapore was a fishing village, this island became the center of trade in the area from Thailand to Indonesia, and, in the second half of the 18th century, it became the home of the resistance movement against the Netherlands. In 1819, Raffles got Singapore from the prince of this Penyengat Island. Looking at the difference in prosperity between Singapore and Tanjung Pinang now, it seems like a joke.
The island was also the center of Malay culture. In the island with a print factory, various books were published, including a Malay language grammar book and a dictionary which were edited based on the Malay language of this island.
The glory at those time remained as palaces and mosques and those were now under maintenance at a high pace. It might be related to being registered in the provisional list of the World Heritage. Since only the Indonesian signboard is in the site. I didn’t know about what kind of place those were and whether I could enter there or no.
However, the charm of the island is the ordinary life rather than such a historical part.
Although it is a water village, the characteristic of Penyengat Island is that the ratio of dry land is high, compared with Sengarang and Kawal. The water part is parallel to the shore and moderate in contrast with Sengarang and Kawal where a pier protrudes in the sea. On the land, roads covered with interlocking are disposed on a grid, and houses stand loose among the trees.
It is a tidy and relaxing place compared with the common Indonesian community. The reason would be because of generosity of the flat land or the special origins of the island that the royal family was involved despite of the same Malay people ? It is not very special place but the calm comfort is the charm of Penyengat Island.
When I greeted, everyone gave a greeting back and waved their hands. As if the brightness of people was reflected, houses were painted colorfully, and most were properly maintained. Such a village is quite rare in an rainy region. There were few trash on a road, and a bicycle taxi peculiar to the island created the enjoyment as a small device. When many small things appear together, the impression of the village is changed greatly.
It might look more shining because I came from the town of Tanjung Pinang which was wet with rain. However, even among the same kind of water villages in the same area, the village landscape is quite different according to the the difference in consciousness of residents and ethnicity.
I realized that the keyword of a community is people over again after I visited three villages.
2008.11 Photos in English version, and photos and text in Japanese version