Sunday, November 14, 2010

An Afternoon at Carey Island

To be honest, I have not exactly heard of a place called Carey Island before in my life. The place is actually across a river near Banting, housing a group of aboriginal tribe called Mah-Meri, one of the listed and recognized "Orang Asli" in Malaysia. I have an excuse of saying that I come from Sarawak, but much to my astonishment many locals here in KL or Selangor do not even know the existence of such place.

One fine Saturday afternoon a group of Olympus users, Yeow, Lee, Gerald and myself decided to venture into the island, looking for good photo opportunities. Much thanks to Gerald who fetched me from my place, and then we car-pooled in Yeow's car all the way to the Island. Just before crossing the bridge over to Carey Island, we stopped by a seafood restaurant for some really scrumptious lunch. This place was famous for their crabs, seafood and other seafood. I am not quite sure when was the last time I had myself a real seafood feast, and boy, the food was GREAT !!

Deep Fried Prawn

Mee Hoon with Lala

Stir Fried Marmaite Crabs

Golden Crispy Squids

Golden Fried Rice

After lunch, we ventured into the Carey Island. As mentioned earlier, this place was an original settlement for an aborigine Orang Asli tribe named Mah-Meri. Most of the Mah-Meri lived in small villages. They have assimilated well into modern lives, working on plantations and farms nearby. However, they still maintained their original way of life, and some of their their unique culture and practices.

At certain time of a year approximately a month after the Lunar (Chinese) New Year, they have their own special celebration to appease the spirits of their ancestors, where heavy traditional tribal music and dance would be exhibited and the public is welcome to join or witness the grand celebration.

Carvings and souvenirs made from local hard wood is famous by Mah-Meri people.

The children have gotten quite used to the visitors, that they would not shy away. They would pose for your camera instantly. Scary, if you ask me.

Trying to capture the "catchlight" spark in the eyes through some natural harsh unfriendly afternoon sun.

Big Eyes

Small Feet

They have the truest of smiles, I must say.

There were so many coconut trees dominating the entire Island, that you have to be careful where you park your car to avoid some random coconut rain.

I notice that they love to weave too.

Ok I admit there were moments I got distracted.

In full traditional costume.

This dude was really sporting and enthusiastic in posing for us. We had quite a bit of time with him.

Yeow could not stand it and joined in the fun.

For many local Malaysians who are being so saturated in their modern lives, and closed their eyes to the beautiful varieties and wonders that are available even within our country, I urge you to start exploring our own country. It is amazing even just about over an hour drive away from the city, that we could find such a wonderful place, untouched by destructive development, where people still live their lives in simple and basic terms.

The experience itself was quite eye-opening to me. Coming from Sarawak where we have 40 sub-ethnic groups, I do treasure, and pay attention to local indigenous people, and respect their place and position in our country.

Ok, I got distracted again.

The sky was blue.

Calcareous Sand and Stone.

Cracked wide open.

A girl by the beach.

Catch some fishes.

Love, under HOT Malaysian sun.

Gerald (blue shirt), Yeow (standing behind), Lee (holding the camera) and myself, posing for a PEN with fisheye-adapter. Photograph taken by Lee.

After our visit to the local Mah-Meri people, we decided to stop by a beach (it is an island after all) before heading back to Kuala Lumpur. It was not exactly the best time to visit a beach, with burning afternoon sun in high afternoon. Nonetheless, we just went there to have fun, and for some unknown reasons, beaches have some therapeutic abilities. Somehow, looking out into the opening into nothingness can clear off a cluttered mind.

Knowing the sun was rather harsh for any conventional photography, I decided to use the back lit advantage for silhouette shots. It worked rather well with my long tele 40-150mm F3.5-4.5mm lens which has been under-utilized lately. Do take note that due to the absence of ED (extra low-dispersion) glass element in the lens, the chromatic aberration especially purple fringing was quite a serious problem. I intended to convert the photographs into B&W, but decided to leave them as they were, because I like the overall color tone.

This has been a shutter therapy session which was out of the ordinary. I sure enjoyed myself thoroughly. This will not be my last visit to Carey Island.


  1. Well written!
    All your pics look extremely good and beautifully capture....especially the flies one...hehehe...
    again, thks for your tips on photography! :)
    maybe we shld have our TT outing there next yr :)

  2. Hi Yeow,
    Thanks so much for your compliments. It was a great pleasure shooting with all of you. Thank you so much for taking the trouble to drive so far into the island.
    Yes, I would love to see their "traditional celebration". Sure more things to photograph then !

  3. The eye of the kid picture is damn scary okay. First thing that came to my mind is Aliens. :P

  4. Jason,
    you and your imaginations. Yerrr

  5. hi theeggyoklks,
    There is nothing that special about this beach though. No one went there also.
    But I do love the blue skies. Anytime.

  6. What's your technique and lens for that shot of the three kids face portrait? How do you get them to pose? Great shots, many of them.

  7. Looks like a great day of shooting and eating as well. Great work as always, Robin. Wish I could take off this afternoon for a visit.

  8. Hi Anandasim,
    I used 50mm F2 for the face shots of the kids, shot wide open at F2. They were actually looking at another photographer on my right. I saw the moment as if they were looking at something else, happily, and snapped from the side as if it was a natural pose.

    Hi Ibarionex,
    Thanks mate !! It was indeed a great afternoon.

  9. why is your hair so short???!!! LOL

    u captured such big and beautiful eyes on that child! u are so lucky your country has such cool places to explore. sg is so tiny everyone explores their xbox at home.


  10. Hi Marcus,
    LOL, like my new hair?
    I have not fully explored singapore though. I am sure there are lots to find out too. Malaysia may be diverse and resourceful, I just wish the government can grow some wits to preserve, and at the same time promote them.

  11. Nice colors and composition @.@ I love the coconut photo :D

  12. my dear dear robin. please do not follow the link below if u don't wish to vomit. u have been warned!


  13. Wonderful pics of the MahMeri! I was there yesterday & found your blog as I was researching into their lives & culture. I will be back to see read your postings & see your other pictures!

  14. Hi, may I know at which resto u had da seafood and was da price reasonable?

  15. Is there any fee to enter the mah meri village?