"Jakun villages @ Tasik Chini" Tasik Cini by SUN_69

Tasik Cini Travel Guide: 6 reviews and 23 photos

Tasik Chini

Not much is known about Tasik Chini in the time before the big flood of 1926, except that it was surrounded by dense forest inhabited by Jakun families who probably practised shifting agriculture. A plot in the forest was turned into a belukar (clearing) to grow rice and other crops. When the soil in one place had been exhausted, they moved to another place. Surplus crops was sold to Malays or exchanged for goods. Food was obtained further by:
• fishing -- Tasik Chini is home to many fish species and is the breeding place of many Sungai Pahang fish;
• hunting for animals such as rusa (deer), kancil (mousedeer), babi hutan (wild pig), or monyet (monkey);
• gathering plants (herbs and vegetables), roots (like ubi kayu, i.e., cassava or tapioca), and fruits in the forest.

Nowadays, a few people work elsewhere (e.g., in the logging industry), but hardly anybody has a steady job. Most people make a living by a combination of fishing in the lake, tapping rubber, harvesting forest products like rattan, and making blowpipes and other handicrafts for tourists. In 2000, the community was granted the use of 242 hectares of newly planted kelapa sawit (palm oil trees) that will give every family a small but steady revenue. In January 2006, an EC/UNDP small-grants project started, to help the women to cultivate traditional healing herbs (to be sold on the market) and to grow menkuang (grassy leaves used for handicrafts). Hunting and gathering in the forest has become less but is still a welcome complement to the food supply. Rice is rarely grown anymore as it became easier and cheaper to buy it from Malays. A lot of other food too is bought, but people also keep chickens (ayam kampung) or have a herbs-and-vegetables garden near the house or, as in the past, at a belukar.

Jakun hut made of tree barks with rattan strips

Some, mostly older, people still prefer to live at their belukar, but most people now live in permanent residences. The main village nowadays is Kampung Gumum (near Alur Gumum), but people also live at nearby Cokura (near Alur Cokura) and at remote Melai (near Alur Serodong). Some families have lived at Cok (near Alur Jemerau) where they worked in a stone quarry.

In the 1960s, the three families of Pak Alok (father of Awang, the current batin, i.e., chief), Pak Laksa (who ventured into tourism), and Pak Tempek (not a bomoh, but yet somebody with powers) combined leadership and entrepeneurship, and founded Kampung Gumum as their permanent residence.

They planted rubber trees and fruit trees in the area around Laut Gumum. Under the Aborigines Settlement Scheme, 10 houses were supplied in 1977, and under the Low Cost Housing Scheme, 3 houses in 1993 and 5 houses in 2007. Nowadays, about 60 families live in Kampung Gumum, a number of them with their own kebun getah (field of rubber trees). The fruit trees are still relevant, not just for the fruit but also to keep track of ownership of pieces of land.

Tasik Chini

Be it for the better or for the worse, but the pretty inaccessible, peaceful, and quiet, village became the center of much more interaction with Malays and others. The villagers could go more easily to the market in the nearby Malay town of Bandar Chini (built in the 1980s for workers in the palm oil fields). Taxis and traveling salesmen started to enter the village. The forest-and-village sounds, that dominated in the past, faded -- which is one of the reasons why some people prefer to stay at (or move to) their belukar or other more remote places around the lake.

Along with the tar road, electricity entered Kampung Gumum and replaced the oil candles (pelita) that were used to light the houses at night. More easily fetched butane gas replaced gathered wood as cooking fuel. Telephone lines are not available and, due to the hilly surroundings, mobile telephones could not be used until the spring of 2005 when, in a new military training camp near the lake, a telecommunication mast was erected.

In 1994, a dam was built in Sungai Chini to prevent tourists from getting wet feet. The dam was built without consulting the Jakun and despite their warning in the media that it would bring ecological disaster to the unique flora and fauna of Tasik Chini. When this ecological disaster became visible in the form of a ring of dead trees around the lake, the dam was lowered and later replaced by a water lock.

  • Last visit to Tasik Cini: May 2009
  • Intro Updated Jun 10, 2009
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