We were having breakfast when Mak Cik Su dropped by. Suddenly, we heard a shout for her….“ada bot udang baring sampai” (there will be an the acetes shrimp boat arriving). This was a call for her to quickly abandon whatever she happened to be doing and prepare to proceed to the location for processing the shrimp catch. I was of course curious and wanted to follow her to see what would happen next. Mak Cik Su quickly went back to her place and reappeared a few minutes later with a basket of food and water. It looked like she will be spending the whole day processing the shrimp.
She was taken on a motorbike by her daughter and we trailed behind in Pelf’s car. We joined the group of ladies who were already there and learnt that their job was to sun-dry the shrimp as it was being landed. They would be paid RM8.00 for every bushel of dried shrimp. If there is intense sun, the shrimp would dry in a day, if not re-drying would be necessary the next day.
We saw dried shrimp being collected to make way for the fresh ones arriving soon. More young men appeared as the shrimp boat reached the shore. There was a huge pile of shrimp in the boat and they were being shoveled into rectangular plastic baskets that were carried by the young men to the beach. The pace was brisk and the nine crew members seemed happy as they worked.
Once dumped on the fine mesh laid out on the beach, the ladies took over. Smaller baskets were used to scoop up the shrimp which was then cast out in a thin layer on the drying mesh. There was the occasional fish which was hurled onto a small heap. We were offered these for lunch which we gladly took. Yum….we later had fried fish and fish soup.
The more time I spend in our little base in Kampong Mangkok, the more I learn about how hard-working the villagers are. Mak Cik Su in her sixties looks frail whenever she appears in our place for a chat, but out on the drying mesh on the beach, she is so lithe and full of energy as she scoops up the shrimp and casts them on the mesh.
The pictures below were taken by Pelf as my camera had run out of battery.