Wednesday, March 11, 2009

En Abdullah Stories

I am a 65 year old man, living on Pulau Redang, which is the closest island with human habitat. In late 1970s to 1992, there were a lot of vietnamese boat people landed on our island shore. Although they stayed for very short moment (a day or two), but the encounters were life significants. They told me thousand stories about horror, creulty, hunger and even death. When they landed at a jetty near my house, my family offered them food, water and clothes. In return the gave me pots, pans and big vase as a token of appreciation. I would love to reunite with those who gave me those items.
Abdullah, 11 Mar 2009, Pulau Redang

The yellow big vase ( Mr, Lamvi please give the correct name if you know about that )

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

En Ahmad Stories

"My name is Ahmad, a 76 year old fisherman, living on Pulau Redang, the closest island with inhabitant to Pulau Bidong. I would like to share my fond memories of Vietnamese refugees. They started arriving at my island in 1976. Back then, my family stayed on Pulau Pinang, a small island near Pulau Redang, while some other families have already moved to Pulau Redang. On Pulau Pinang, there was a transit camp built by special Task Force - a government agency. It was a long house with eight rooms. during the peak time, the vietnamese shored there almost everyday. They stayed overnight there before being transferred to Pulau Besar, before the opening of Pulau Bidong Camp.

I do not understand English or Vietnamese languages, but I was sadden with the look of hungry children. I used my personal boat to buy some food from Pulau Redang to be given to the children. Some of them came to my house, where we served them some food and drink. The Vietnamese ate whatever they could to survive. They ete fishes, crabs, water lizards, etc.

Bidong's Pictures - 4 Mac 2009

Karah Island, The nearest tiny island to Bidong it's situated just one Kilometer to Bidong.

Fresh an green after moonson season.

Redang Island, View from Bidong.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Rats on Pulau Bidong

Rats on Pulau Bidongby Lamvi Dao. Edited by Jesse Stamell.

Rats were like house pets for us on Pulau Bidong. Except we did not pet them.

Rats were in the sewage. Rats were in the house. Rats were in the rice bags. Rats were inside a noodle pack. Rats were on the roof tops. Rats were on the mountain. Rats were everywhere. At night, rats would run over your body.

Rats did not like to come out during the day. They thought that it was safe for them to sneak out at night. Usually, we ignored rats that ran around during day time. There were not many brave rats show their presence throughout the day. However, at night time we hunted rats.

Usually after 11:30pm, which was the curfew on the island, rats followed their leader to come out from underground tunnels. Have you seen a group of ants? We saw rats just like that. There were big ones, small ones, and some were just giant.

Rats were a beneficial source of food for us too. We could exchange 2 rats for a pack of noodles or 10 rats for a small bottle of milk. The sanitary office did a very good job to keep rat population down by giving out prizes. The best way that we could capture more rats by smoking them out of under ground tunnels or by shooting them at night.

(I remember Cu Chi tunnels. The Americans did try to smoke Vietcong out during the day but I don't think they tried to search them at night.)
Rat Military 101:

Just like the Cu Chi tunnels, rat tunnels had so many doors. Some doors were hidden under bushes or rocks. Just before we smoked out the rats we would cover all the entrances, leaving just two or three openings, which led to a trap in the form of a large and long bag. There were times that an inexperienced rat killer tried to smoke the rats and failed to cover all the openings. All hell broke loose. Rats came out from everywhere.

How did we know rats would be inside a tunnel? Well, either we studied their food prints, their poops, or we covered the openings a day before with a small rock or leaves. The rats always left a track for us and they loved to leave poop around their territory.

We had this special hand-made gun that had a 2 foot long arrow made of a steel fence. At night, without flash light, we searched and shot rats corner after corner. The arrow had a string that tightened to the gun and in most cases the rats could not escape. Unfortunately, the string would break sometimes and the rats would run away with the whole contraption. The only way to catch these rats was to wait for them to die somewhere. We followed the smell.

One time, there was a rat underneath a wood board, which I was washing dishes on the top. It was about 7PM and I felt a rat's presence underneath me (Don't ask me how I can feel rats). I knelt down and saw the rat, ran into the house, cocked the gun and pointed the gun underneath the board without bothering to knee down again to locate the rat. I shot the rat right on the forehead.

That was my last killed rat. I held the arrow up, looked at the poor guy and I felt sorry for him. Since, I had retired.

If I always had a flash light, I would bring more milk home. These rats loved flash light and I could have all the time in the world to aim and shoot. Without the flash light, I had only 2 seconds to shoot.

One tip about shooting the rats: never look into their eyes. You look at their big fat belly and aim at the smallest point on the belly. You aim small, you miss small.

(You have passed Pulau Bidong trained Rat Military 101 course.)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

My Story - Siti

Hi, I am siti, I'm just youngsters when VBP first reached at my village. My vilage, Redang's Island is nearest place to Pulau Bidong. At the time almost every weeks VBP landed at our's Jetty that very close to my house. When they came , we surround them and gave food like biscuits, cracer and water especially to their childrens. Once we found a cute little girl with her mother. I put her a cloth and persuade her mother to take as adopt but her mother dismiss. They stayed at Redang's just 2 to 4 hours. After that the task force take them to Pulau Bidong.

paulo bidong

I like to use paulo bidong in my blog cause my vietnamese friends alwaya type so. Now I publish bidong's picture when my boat's pass pulau Bidong at 4th mac 2009.
Refugee Camps Site, Jetty and Monumen.

Pantai Cina , Now it's developed for researh purpose

Bidong's views from Redang's Island