Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pulau Karimun - A New Men's Paradise?

I heard about Pulau Karimun (Karimun Island) when I worked in Singapore in early 1990s. At that time, the supply of granite to the construction industry in Singapore came from 2 sources i.e. Pulau Ubin which is an island at the northern part of Singapore and Pulau Karimun which is an Indonesian island.

Never appear in my mind this island after I left Singapore until I paid a visit to Kukup in January this year. When I waited for a boat to send me to the Kukup island, I saw there was a ferry at the other end of the jetty. One passenger told me that the ferry was leaving for Tanjung Balai at Pulau Karimun.

Out of curiosity, I asked my colleagues about this island. They told me that Karimun is a very backward place with laterite road.

I made a trip to Pulau Karimun last Sunday despite heavy downpour in the morning. It took about one hour to travel from Kukup Jetty to Tanjung Balai Ferry Terminal.

I was greeted by a group of drivers/motorists who offer transportation service to hotel. As my purpose is to have a look of the island, I managed to get a driver to drive me round the island.

To my surprise, all the roads are premix road instead of laterite roads as told by my colleagues. The authorities even built a new administration centre away from Tanjung Balai town. Apparently, they've got a great sum of budget from the central government.

There is no rubber estate, palm oil plantation, coconut plantation etc on the island except for family-based vegetables planting.

I visited one of the quarries. Karimun still exports the granite to Singapore even though at one time the Government prohibited export of granite and sand to Singapore.

Tanjung Balai is vibrant and booming even though there is lesser agricultural and industrial activities. There are plenty of hotels at Tanjung Balai.

One question crosses my mind then: How does Karimun maintain its economy?

Can it be that it is a men's paradise?

This post is written by Chai Yong from http://www.temasekmap.com which is about an ebook "Travel Guide of Singapore Batam Bintan Johor" and related maps.