Hola, peeps! This might sound lame but I've never chanced to stop at Setiu before, just passed by on the way to Kelantan... I've never talked to so many fishermen than at Setiu last weekend! Truly enlightening experience. :) We were all over the place, from Kg Mangkok (lol!), Gong Batu, Kuala Baru, practically all over Setiu (partly on foot). Like all I ever wanted to know about Setiu and more. I was one of the WWF volunteers and we had to interview fishermen at all the Setiu River fishing areas. Seriously funny, I tell you. It was for WWF's study of the common fishing methods and terrapin bycatch survey (nothing to do with UMT - some people may get confused about this).
Anyway, I only expected to know only Nel, Qis and Shu there so it was a bit of a surprise to see my two adorable fishery juniors: Acap and Syed! At first, I was like, oh no, these were the friends Nel said he was bringing? But they were really nice and eager to learn. (I learned a lot too. Fishing methods falls in our area of expertise but most things about terrapins still evades the best of my knowledge. Marine bio stuff.) Like how those long necked things are also turtles and soft shelled turtles are also called labi-labi.
Me and Shu had no idea what we were supposed to do there and at first I was stunned at what we had to do (I'm not the most sociable person around) but I got used to it quickly. Shila was there too (met her at a New Year's party! Sumandak power!) and btw, she has one of the most infectious laughs I have ever heard. =D
Stephanie (UKM final year student) from WWF was there to guide us (she knows Brenda!) and a guy who showed up the next day with the coolest name ever - River. (How awesome is that?) He was glowing with praise about Sabah as almost half of the WWF team is centered in Sabah in many different projects. Ah, it's so nice to hear people from the Peninsular sharing the love. =)
Anyway, these pak ciks were truly funny. The older fishermen seemed to be speaking a foreign language to me and couldn't understand me sometimes. T_T I try but I haven't picked up much Terengganu BM in my 3 years here... And the young ones look at me really skeptically and are generally more guarded than the other uncles. Is this our youth today? (Well they're not that young, around 28-35.) The ones that do this as a hobby are also easily miffed because they aren't real fishermen, so I have to watch my toes. You get all kinds, from vets to teachers to once-a-year fishers. (who have never heard of terrapins in their life.)
We gathered 80 respondents after two days, above our target of 50! I love it when people get delighted at receiving the shirts after completing each survey... It made all the cow dung, aching legs and fishy smell worth it. (of course, we got paid a little, but when we joined, we thought we were doing this for free...) The villagers were also very helpful in assisting us. ^_^ There ARE nice people in Terengganu! *starry eyes*
There was even time to stop by to see some people plant baby mangrove trees (there were UMT people involved here too!) and walk along the boardwalk to the river. We also stopped by Setiu's famed floating pens and to see the Turtle Conservation Center's terrapins (one of them was quite fearsome looking). Acap and Nel made jokes all the time, some funny (at poor Syed's expense), some not (Mostly Nel's! Masyarakat Hypothalamus was epic!).
Syed: Apa? *pout*
Acap: SETAN KURUS!
*table howls in laughter*
*table stops laughing*
Overall, I found the trip to be hugely enjoyable (kind of unexpected) and refreshing. It makes me eager to partake in other WWF voluntary activities after I graduate and am based in Sabah.
You learn something new everyday! Today I learned that petty things are not worth squabbling over and to always try to believe the best in people. =)
Pssst. I voted today. Did you?
Photo credit: My own and some grabbed from Shu (pshaw, she won't mind)