GEORGE TOWN, Nov 16 — Colourful fishing boats bob gently at a wooden jetty and rustic wooden kampung houses dot the coastline while the sky is this brilliant blue which contrasts beautifully with the lush greenery of the jungle around the village.
There is an air of tranquility and peace as villagers go about their business, mending fishing nets, or lounging on hammocks while small children run about freely.
Welcome to Pulau Aman, translated as the “island of peace”, which is an apt name for this quiet village that is all serene and peaceful, far away from the hustle and bustle of the state’s capital.
This tiny island is made up of a small fishing village that has been around for more than a hundred years and it is easily accessible with a five-minute boat ride from the Bukit Tambun jetty.
The island may be located just off the coast of Bukit Tambun on mainland Penang but fortunately, it has remained untouched by the rapid development that has overtaken southern Seberang Perai due to the now open Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Bridge linking Batu Kawan to Batu Maung on the island.
Batu Kawan and its peripheral towns such as Bukit Tambun and Bukit Mertajam have seen rapid development as various commercial, residential and industrial projects take root and spread throughout the vast, mostly undeveloped land.
Despite the development and a brand new Bukit Tambun jetty linking the tiny island to the mainland, Pulau Aman remains an idyllic peaceful getaway for travellers weary of the busy modern world and keen for a quiet respite to clear the mind and rejuvenate the soul.
The island is not a foreign place for most residents in southern Seberang Perai as families there very often make day trips to the island to fish, to explore the rustic fishing village, to dig for some siput at its pebbled beaches and naturally, to partake in a delicious seafood meal of mee udang (prawn noodles) at the Pulau Aman Floating Restaurant.
This island is also a popular spot for fishing enthusiasts and anglers who would book up the homestay chalets on the island to indulge in their hobby.
As for day trippers, the focal point would be the well-known mee udang at the wooden restaurant on stilts that extends out into the sea with a gorgeous panoramic view of the coast.
The restaurant has been around for more than 15 years serving up a limited menu of mee udang, mee goreng udang (fried prawn noodles) and nasi goreng udang (fried prawn rice).
At the wooden jetty leading to the restaurant is a small stall manned by fishermen selling fresh caught seafood, from flower crabs to fishes to large mantis prawns, all sold at reasonable prices.
Visitors have the option of buying these sea creatures to bring home or they can take the bucket full of fresh seafood to the restaurant and have them clean and cook it for a small fee.
There is no better way to enjoy fresh seafood than to have it steamed as the crabs and mantis prawns are sweet and full of the flavours of the sea without any needed garnishings.
If you are thinking of tiny little mantis prawns that are the size of tiny shrimps, think again. These are huge mantis prawns, longer and thicker than the average spoon and its flesh, sweet and firm.
It is a perfect accompaniment to the delicious mee udang that has been touted as the best in Penang, if not the northern region, due to the fresh prawns used in preparing the savoury, spicy dish.
It may look like plain noodles in a thick tomato-based gravy garnished with large prawns and some vegetables but the gravy is a thick concoction made up of tomatoes, chillies and plenty of shrimp-shell stock to give it a rich, aromatic flavour. It is both sweet and spicy with a tinge of sour and a bit of salt to balance it all.
After this hearty meal, the more adventurous can take a walk on the sun dappled path that goes around the island for a view of the quaint village and even to catch a glimpse of the mainland from the top of a small hill.
There are also historical spots to visit, such as an old well dating back to 1789 along Jalan Telaga Emas which till today is still filled with fresh water.
On top of the hill is Batu Perompak where there is an old grave that locals insist is the final resting place of a pirate chief — Panglima Garang.
According to local legends, the spot used to be the hiding place for pirates a long time ago and just across this island is another island, Pulau Gedung, where there is a Pirates’ Cave, linking the legends of these two tiny islands where pirates used to live at Batu Perompak and hide their loot in the cave.
The island is accessible only by a brief boat ride from the Bukit Tambun jetty and the boat ride is available from 10am till 7pm daily. The boat rides are manned by the Pulau Aman Fishermen Association.
If you plan to have a meal at the floating restaurant, you may also call in your orders first so that when you arrive, they have your food ready for you. The restaurant is open daily except for public holidays.
Restoran Terapung Pulau Aman
120, Pulau Aman
14100 Simpang Ampat
Tel: 016-4955125 / 019-4766125