Malaysia through the lenses of a Mat Salleh
By Philippe A.Durant
Day 20: Kuala Sepetang Part 1 – Hats off to the charcoal factory workers
Kuala Sepetang is a tourist destination located 12km from Taiping. Locals go there mostly to eat seafood at the fishermen port. Some take a boat tour to see the fishing eagles, the fish farm developing along the river and the fireflies at night. Rare are those who visit Kuala Sangat, where the first migrants from China who came to work in the tin industry settled first and where today 50 inhabitants still live without electricity and running water. At the time, it was called Port Weld. Some take a walk in the eco park around the unique mangrove swamp (the Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve). Of course all this was before MCO. The village has seen very few visitors in a year, like most places.
For me, the main interest is, for sure, the charcoal industry. I have been many times admiring and documenting the work of foreign and local workers doing an incredible job in and outside the brick ovens. I usually spend hours forming a connection with them and often obtain nice portraits of admirable individuals. Charcoal dust and extreme heat are their daily environment, while they load the logs and precious charcoal which will be mostly sent to Japan. This series is fully dedicated to them. In part 2, tomorrow, we will explore the area.
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