With an evening to spend in KK, I made a trip over to the water village across the sea from the gleaming waterfront with its modern new malls, expensive apartments and swanky bars. The tumbledown ramshackle of huts and walkways is home to a large number of illegal immigrants, many of them Filipinos, and harbours a bit of a drug problem, apparently channeling quite a bit of amphetamine into the country. Few people have a job. I’m not strictly sure why the government tolerates it and its supposed to be quite dangerous to go there alone as a whitey, especially after dark.

The houses are built of scrap or rescued bits of timber and bamboo hacked from the island. One bloke was wading under the walkways with a bundle of wood as we walked along.

‘What are you building?’ I asked.

‘This is my house!’ he beamed back.

As is often the case with these dangerous places, it was one of the friendliest I went. I probably could have done without the protection of my trusty Malaysian sidekick. All the kids were messing around in the water, shouting hello and slithering onto boats to wave. Men doing odd jobs on their houses or repairing the boardwalks warned us to be back on the boat before nightfall. Ladies either waved shyly from behind their children or determinedly ignored us to carry on washing clothes.

Water village with stilted mosque

Water village gangway

Piles of rubbish


The shore on the island that the village has attached itself to is little more than a rubbish dump. All the crap is either washed up from the sea or deposited there by the villagers themselves. They don’t seem to care. Life continues in, around and on the rubbish.

Kids were playing with toy cars, the young – and pretty trendy – teens were playing volleyball, mixed groups were playing some sort of gambling game that involved making a small pit in the sand and seeing who could chuck coins in or closest to it. A few of the children were on the beg for ‘one ringitt’ but mostly they were just curious at the alien visitors.


Gambling game

I wanted to know more. I wanted to talk to more people. I wanted to take a million photos but night was falling.

Big fan. Photo project waiting to happen.

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