Sunday, March 20, 2011

Wild Bukit Pasir

My family moved into our current home in 1978. When we moved in, there were only a few neighbours, as most of the land is covered with rather thick vegetation and a small patch of swampy grounds - in fact some of her friends wondered why did we moved into a relatively forsaken location even though it was fairly close to Batu Pahat town centre (roughly 5 kilometers). Even so, I like the location - rather rustic  despite being close to the town. I remember that just at the edge of the plot was a small ditch with plenty of fish. Sure they are just small examples of ikan sepat (guorami) and puyu (climbing perch) but were a source of wonder for us town-dwelling kids. The ditch opposite our plot of land had more fish stocks such as the aforementioned puyu and sepat but also larger fishes such as ikan keli (catfish) and haruan (striped snakehead). There was even the odd tortoise.When it rains the ditch sometimes overflows, bringing the fishes across to our land where we usually picked them up and put them in the aquarium. Sometimes my late father let us accompany him (and later on our own) into the bushes behind our plot of land where we discovered another ditch, this time with ikan laga (betta) in them. The swampy plot of land to the right of our house is the home for a small number of burung ruak-ruak (white-breasted waterhen) with their loud croaks and pigeon-like coos.There was even burung but-but (Coucal) plus the usual suburban species like burung pipit and tiung (mynah) and other small birds. The bushes to the left of the house consists mainly of long grass and small plants the dominant of which was kemunting from which the housing area got its name.

Even though our home is only some 5km from town centre, it has that kampung feel, in fact the area where the house is located was considered a relative backwater then. The area from where the current Tunku Ibrahim Building now stands down to the village of Bukit Pasir consisted mainly of shrubbery, swamp and rubber plantation. There were also some farming (probably squatter) colonies with their smelly pig pens and duck ponds. Traffic on the trunk road consisted mainly of commuters heading towards Parit Sulong, Sri Medan, Yong Peng and beyond,  or Tasek Merdeka, a local lake garden. Traffic flow was really light that I sometimes can lark around on the road! 

But that was some 20 to 30 years ago.....

Around 15 years ago, a number of food stalls sprang up nearby. Their waste water enters the drainage ditch reducing the quality of the water. Some time earlier than that a petrol station (complete with a small workshop and car wash facilities) was bulit (now there are two) further degrading the ditch. The water is now oily and most of the time, black. There are no signs of life in it anymore. The squatters and their livestock are long gone. In their place is a massive commercial and residential area, centred around the Square One / Carrefour shopping complex. In fact the entire secondary forest / rubber plantation/swamp have been replaced with housing estates. The are now massive number of vehicles on the road especially when factories sprang up in Tongkang Pechah a few kilometers down the road. Even the road in front of the house has become busier since many commuters use it as a short cut between Jalan Kluang and Jalan Bukit Pasir. Sure, the muddy / dusty dirt road has been replaced with a fully tarmaced one. Such is the price of progress huh?

I am also unable to find traces of burung ruak-ruak nowadays. All is not lost however as the the area around the house is still covered with shrubs and thickets (even though I can no longer find the kemunting plants) and that the trees are larger. The area is still a haven for birds and there are now a couple of squirrels too! But I keep long will it last?

1 comment:

Hairil Rizal said...

I've never seen those Ruak Ruaks anymore too though I went back to BP every month. Not even hearing their 'anxious' sound when they were loud noise from a passing motorbike.

There was a surprise however that there are still fish living in the front ditch. Saw one last month! It was a Puyu I think. Anyway, I don't think the more fragile ones like Sepat can live there. Too bad.