Tuesday, November 18, 2008
What's behind a name?
The stories behind their names are as intriguing as the villages themselves.
Fairies in the Clouds, Hungry Tok Imam, Killing Village, Meet your Match Village...how did some kampung get their cheeky, distinctive names? Well, grab yourself a map and drop in for tea.
Seven kilometres from Jerteh town is Kampung Awek, a small village that sounds like a reason for guys to flex their biceps.
"Awek is the local lingo for girlfriend, and yes, I do get asked a lot whether there are many pretty girls here," says Mohd Faisha Razali, 36. the headman of Pasir Akar district.
Travellers are quick to embrace the village's eyebrow-raising name, snapping pictures of the sign as they pass. As it turns out, the name has a perfectly innocent origin.
"It was so-called after the tok batin of an Orang Asli community who were the original settlers of the land in the 1920s," explains Mohd Faisha. Not after the hordes of gorgeous women, then?
"No. but then again wait till you see my wife."
Kampung Mambang Di
S.wan, Kampar, Perak
if not for its name, Kampung Mambang Di Awan (meaning "fairies in the clouds") would have simply gone unnoticed except for the occasional lost tourist on his way to Gua Tempurung.
The residents are accustomed to the ratty comments associated with their village's name.
"Oh, we've heard it all," says Zainat Azri Saad, a secretary at the penghulu' s office.
"The legend goes, while gazing at the clouds after a tiring day of labouring at the mine, a group of men began seeing fairies in the clouds.
The miners befriended the sylphs whom they quickly learned could shift the clouds around to shelter them from the sweltering heat."
Kampung Tok Imam Lapar
Hulu Terengganu, Terengganu
Imagine the odd reaction when you tell people you come from Kampung Tok Imam Lapar (Hungry Tok Imam Village), a village of 400 who are mostly farmers.
"The name attracts a lot of attention, there's no doubt about that," says Mohd Hisham Talib, 29, the penghulu of Mukim Kuala Telemong.
"Back in the 12th-14 centuries, traders beating gold and silver used to flock to Kuala Berang to buy elephant tusks, gaharu wood and to replenish their food and water supply," Hisham relates.
"One day, a group of traders, stopped at nearby Sungai Telemong. They ventured into a village near the fiver and came across a surau, where a religious man was teaching.
"The man invited them over to his house for a meal, before continuing their journey. At dusk, the traders stopped again by the Sungai Telemong and walked around in search of food.
'`They were going round and mund for hours until they wound up tight in front of the religious man's house again. That's when they called out, 'Tok Imam! Lapar! (Tok Imam! We're hungry! ).
"So you see, it wasn't the imam who was famished, it was the traders !"
Batang Kali, Selangor
Blink and you'll miss Kampuug Menyorok in Bandar Pekan Lama, Batang Kali.
"Kampung Menyorok (Hiding Village) is off the beaten path and slightly hidden," says Muhaini Muhaiyadi, 26, the assistant at the headman's office, who has by now learnt to ignore the wisecracks about the village's name.
"During the Japanese Occupation, you had to follow the railways tracks and walk underneath a tunnel to get to the village. Now with new roads and signboards, the village is not difficult to find," she adds.
According to Muhaini, there have been a few times when the signboards went missing.
"Perhaps we should have the name of the kampung engraved on a boulder. Then the thieves wouldn't be able to steal the sign," she suggests.
There's a saying that goes: Never start a fight with someone from Kampung Bunoban (Killing Village), or you stand to fight a whole village.
This village is famous for Main Puteri, traditionally a heaIing method involving songs and dance.
"During World War 11, there were many Thai soldiers here who stirred a lot of chaos in the village. The skirmishes between the villages and the Thais led to a lot of fatalities. That's how
Kampung Buuohan got its depressing name," explains resident Muhammad Tajul, 21.
"I have no idea why no one saw fit to change it to to a less hostilesounding name."
But there are people in this town who seem to have a wry sense of humour about their village's name.
"Kampung Bunohan has always had a lean mean reputation. People do not come to this village as they're afraid they might get beaten to a pulp by the thugs here.
"I myself was spared by the bullies in boarding school because of my kompun's name," says Mohd Raslan,19.
Kampung Gudang Garam
Mention Gudang Garam and images of the kretek cigarette springs to mind. The origins of the village's name, however, began 100 years ago, when a group of people from Kampung Tenang, in Labis, Segamat, entered the dense Tanjung Sengkawang forest in search of new territory - and got lost.
"They wandered until night fell and got caught in a heavy storm," says Muda Mohd Langsing, 63, the penghulu of Mukim Jemerih.
"They finally stumbled upon a salt lick, a water source for animals.
When they finally managed to find their way out of the forest, they decided to name the newly found territory after the salt lick," says Muda, a descendant of the people who discovered the village.
"They cleared the land and built a kampung which has about 100 houses today."
Kampung Desa Temu Jodoh
The name is definitely Kampong Desa Temu Jodoh's (Meet Your Match Village) main attraction.
"It's just so precious, isn't it?" says the headman Paiman Anuar, 82 who displays an almost mmantic fervour for the name.
Just 20 kilometres away from Yong Peng, this village situated in Chaah was opened almost 30 years ago.
The land was cleared by the participants of the Kampung Sungai Lenek Youth Land Scheme - young bachelors aged 18 to 24.
I was one of the 60 participants. We were given a monthly allowance of RM60, It was just enough for food and we barely had any left over to woo a girl. So for three to four years, all of us remained single and dateless," says Paiman.
When a similar land scheme was introduced for females, the men began to pair up with the women, "This inspired the late Datuk Osman Saad, the former Johor chief minister, to voice the idea of having a mass wedding ceremony on Feb 27, 1977 during the state meeting,
Twenty-four couples commited their wedding vows at the Segamat mosque, and had their mass reception ceremony the same evening. A huge dais was built on a football pitch to accommodate the couples, including my wife and i," Paiman says fondly.
"During his closing speech, Osman spontaneously referred to the village as Desa Temu Jodoh.
"There were a few people who weren't too happy with the name but eventually it began to grow on everyone," says Paiman.
"All 112 of the men and women from the land scheme are now married and most run oil palm plantations. Many remain friends until this very day, and the bond
among the residents is close.
"There is a school here named Sekolah Kebangsaan Desa Temu Jodoh. Maybe the children one day will marry their school sweethearts and we can organise an even bigger mass wedding!"
Kampung Dada Kering
Kuala Lipis, Pahang
"I am always queried about it when I give my address on the phone," says Kampung Dada Kering headman Mohd Noor Abd Rahman, 48. (Data Kering means "dry chest".)
The most famous feature here is a sign with its name. People tend to steal the sign. Significant amounts of public funds have been spent on replacing it," he adds.
The village, according to Mohd Noor, was once a gold mine, literally. The gold deposits attracted rockhounds but reserves were soon exhausted and the mines were shut down.
"The village was named dada kering, which refers to the land that had been mined and abandoned.
The mine sites had since been filled with water and turned into fresh water farms," says Mohd Noor.
There are still remnants of gold in the river. But you will need clearance from the land district office to get to it.