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Teluk Kumbar Fishing Village, Penang

Posted by on Apr 28th, 2009
Filed Under: Featured, Penang, Photos

My haul of memories

My thoughts through the lens

After a month’s spotlight on George Town and its inhabitants, I would like to introduce you to another largely undiscovered gem of Penang, the fishing villages.

The southern part of Penang island has a string of fishing villages stretching from Batu Maung to Gertak Sanggul. The villages have retained its charm and personality, possibly for being far from the curious eyes of locals and foreign visitors. In this photo essay, my focus is on the Teluk Kumbar fishing village located at the south-east end of the island.

I am excited to share with you some of the images taken on a very bright and blue day. It was definitely a great experience and a good workout as well, especially for a nature-lover like me. The smiling faces of the local children made the day unforgettable. Looking back, I arrived at the scene at around 8.45am but not many fishing activities in sight. Most of the fishing boats were still tied to the shore and the village seemed to have not woken from the slumber yet or was it still too early? Well, as the sun rose, so did the inhabitants. First, it was the fisherman and then followed by children in groups. The children, especially, were a bundle of joy with their laughters filling the air. What a difference from the city kids; here, digging for shells and building sandcastles bring the most happiness to them. There was no need for any video game console or computer games but just simple games by the beach to put smiles on their faces.

Being kids, they were initially shy but a little coaxing went a long way. They smiled and waved; I smiled and returned the gesture, in thanks for the friendship that formed in that fleeting photographic moments.

All photos and texts by Calvin Kwok

Penang, Teluk Kumbar Fishing Village, Fishing Boat

An up-close shot of a fishing boat with a fleet of other fishing boats moored along the bay on the background. Most of the boats sport the classic red and blue combination, making them a striking sight from near and afar.

Penang, Teluk Kumbar Fishing Village, Fishermen

Off they go: Two fishermen starting their journey on a sunny morning. Who knows what the tide may bring? Will it be a good catch? Or will it be just barely enough to scrape through and feed the hungry mouths back home? These fishermen know that their fate lie in the fickleness of the weather and yet they strive on, propelled by hope.

Penang, Teluk Kumbar Fishing Village, Port

With a vast blue backdrop and swirl of the clouds, I was taken in by the simplicity and serenity of this scene. The orange rooftop adds contrast and visual interest, thus anchoring the image in the eyes of the viewer.

Penang, Teluk Kumbar Fishing Village, coconut tree

A peculiar-looking coconut branch stretches out as though to reach a fishing boat. This image was taken just below the branch to lend a sense of perspective and depth to the overall image.

Penang, Teluk Kumbar Fishing Village, Fishermen

“This morning I’m not going to the sea”, this pakcik (uncle) said when I asked him if he was preparing to go out like the other fishermen. He wanted to fix his fishing equipment first, since the fishing nets had become quite entangled. There were a number of nicer-looking boats nearby for photographic purposes, to be honest. However, I chose to capture this image as my heart went out to the pakcik who, despite being in a less-than-favorable situation, had the look and determination to turn the tide around, so to speak.

Penang, Teluk Kumbar Fishing Village, Bird prey

A bird was spotted doing its own fishing along a stream which leads to the sea. Using my Tamron 18-200mm lens, I crept and got as close as I could to the bird. I shot more than 40 images of this bird alone, waiting to capture that split-second image of the bird with its prey in its beak. I tried and tried and finally, got the image I had been striving for.

Penang, Teluk Kumbar Fishing Village, Beetles making love

While the humans are still lulled by the sounds of the waves, a pair of green beetles got ‘caught in the act’. Love is surely all around in this quaint little fishing town!

Penang, Teluk Kumbar Fishing Village, Smiling little girl

I just had to capture a portrait of this little girl playing in the sand. She was such a joy to capture and definitely melted my heart with her bright eyes and sweet smile.

Penang, Teluk Kumbar Fishing Village, Young boy catches worm

A young boy showing off a fishing worm in his right hand (notice the length of the worm). To catch the worms, the boy munched and spat biscuits onto the sands (most probably as a form of bait). As soon as the worm appears, all he needed was a quick hand to pull up the worm. Sounds easy? Wait until you give it a try.

Penang, Teluk Kumbar Fishing Village, Self Portrait

A self-portrait on the golden sands of the beach. It’s been quite some time since I last took a picture of myself and this silhouette is the closest I would get for now.

Penang, Teluk Kumbar Fishing Village, Fisherman

A fisherman spends his morning mending his net in the open and under a cool shaded tree, oblivious to the world around him, especially to the sound of my shutter clicking away while I got down low to take this shot.

Penang, Teluk Kumbar Fishing Village, Concrete Walkway

A walkway of rocks and concrete slabs lining up the beach which provide a form of barrier to the incoming waves. When the tide is high, it is almost impossible to use this walkway. I was intrigued by the rough texture and repetition of the rocks and felt that it would make an interesting image.

Penang,Teluk Kumbar Fishing Village, Children

The smiles say it all: A group of local children having a wonderful time at the beach, digging holes and building sandcastles. Despite not knowing most of their names, I could feel the bond that developed when they let me into their world in that flickering moment, That’s the beauty of photography; there is usually not much need for many words if you let your heart do the talking. Anyway, a big smile almost always does the trick. It’s hello and goodbye, my little friends!

Malaysia Travel Guide Photographer

Born, bred and schooled within the vicinity of George Town; Penang has been my home for over twenty years. As a way of saying ‘Welcome to Penang’, I would like to share scenes of Penang with you from my perspective as a keen amateur photographer. More [+]

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31 Responses »

  1. Very nice photos. Looks like you truly enjoyed yourself on this trip.

    Really like photo #1.

    The coconut branch actually look like a rope!

  2. Thanks a lot, Grace.
    Yeah, I did have a good time on this trip!

  3. nice work. hope to see more of penang from you!

  4. Wow..Calvin! U’ve got a great collection again!
    Among all, I vote for 1,4,6,8..
    Good job!

  5. Good stuffs! good job in getting malaysia travel guide to showcase your work. how can i get to do this too? pls let me know. thks!

  6. Calvin, so what’s your next assignment going to be on?

  7. Hi Rachael, Dave & ILoveMalaysia,
    Thanks very much for your comments!

    Hi Grace,
    To be honest, there’s no specific plan on the places or themes I cover even though I make up a list and keep adding to it :O) I go to wherever or whatever that inspires me and sometimes it could be very far away from what I had in mind earlier..hehe..

    Anyway, to all readers, if there are certain places or themes in Penang that you would like to see featured, I am more than happy to receive your suggestions.

  8. Sir, really enjoyed your posts. I came to this site searching for information on Penang. i think the site is very informative, and the photos here are great too. many thanks. think i will plan to come malaysia very soon.

  9. Hi J. Thomas,
    Thank you for visiting this site and I appreciate your feedback on the posts & images.
    We welcome you to Penang and hope you will have an unforgettable time here :O)

  10. Hi Calvin,

    Those Photo are beutiful and it remind me my youth time in Penang. Please mail me more photo.

    Joseph Heng

  11. Hi Joseph,
    Thanks a lot for your comments :O)
    What’s your e-mail address?

  12. Wah seh, very nice photos! Reminds me of my childhood! Waiting for newer photos from you soon.

    Don’t keep us waiting!!!

  13. Thanks a lot, Ah Chua.. :O)
    Have not really had a chance to go shooting on Penang’s scenic sites for the past few weeks. Was caught up with other personal and paid assisgnments.

    Will definitely try my best to showcase more of Penang soon.

  14. wow! i feel very proud to be a malaysian with all the beautiful places here. malaysia is really truly asia!

  15. “Malaysia Truly Asia…”
    That jingle is really catchy..haha 🙂

  16. thanks Calvin. lovely picture.i’m from there. the beach the sampan everthing
    thank you

  17. Thanks very much, Amy. It’s great to know that you like the pictures of your own village!

  18. I love this place and a quite place from all the problems of the world

  19. Hi M Toqeer zain,
    Yeah, it’s a nice and quiet getaway.

  20. wow, impressive.. out of all penang photos you have posted, I love this fishing village photos so much…

  21. Thank you very much, Serene..

  22. this is my hometown..very nice place to relax..

  23. This is fresh & depict positive vibration as to look at. It is simply spell bound , capturing the mood of the local people & the natural beauty. I shall be in Penag from 20th to 22nd Nov-09. Please advise me how to reach the village so that I can feel the mood as depicted in your camera. Thanks A.B.Siddique, Bangladesh.

  24. Hi A. B. Siddique,
    Thanks for your comments.
    Kindly drop me a line at for more details to reach the village.

    Thank you.

  25. hi,
    just asking, what camera model are you using? roughly ard how much does ur camera costs. Nice pictures…

  26. Hi Nicole,
    Thanks and I’m happy that you like the pictures 🙂

    I use Nikon’s DSLR camera, D40. For more info on what gear I use, you may go to my profile above.

    Thank you.

  27. my kampung.. tq… u gave me a different presective of telok kumbar.. i always tot that there’s nothing much of telok kumbar.
    hv u tried mee udang (prawn mee) there?

  28. Hi Banshee,

    Glad you like this posting :O) I have tried the mee udang before quite sometime back…I will surely try it again the next time I’m at your kampung!

  29. hi there calvin…nice pics nice location…if visiting the island, is there any accommodation there? Do they do fishing trips for guests?

  30. Hello Calvin,

    Not only your photos are great captures of life and nature, but also the words that you put together to describe them are impressive. I really love your photos! It is so natural, soon you are no longer amateur photographer, but a profounding professional photographer. The pictures speak for themselves….Well, keep up the good work!

    -Norlilawati (a Penangite, now in Kentucky, USA)

  31. Hi Norlilawati,
    Thanks so much for your kind words! Really happy to hear from you 🙂