Tracing back to the origins of Hainanese in Malaysia – here in Klang

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1912
Hainanese cuisine

Cover Image via: 新浪旅游

The Hainanese village in Klang (Bagan Hailam) was built in 1910 and have a long history. Sadly, not many are aware of this Hainanese village till today. This village first started off as a humble fishing village when Hokkien people from Hainan Island in China migrated to Malaysia. With the rapid development of cities, the younger generation had moved on to greener pastures and the village was left with a few families. Luckily, this village was still able to retain some of its former lusters with their tasty yet affordable seafood attracting visitors from all over Malaysia.

 

How to get there

In the early days, villagers of Hainan Island relied heavily on sampan as a the only means of transport. These days, visitors could still visit the village by sampan from a small pier in Port Klang. Approximately 30 years ago, a link road was constructed to the island. This provides another alternative for visitors who preferred driving to the island. The journey from Kuala Lumpur to Hainan Village is approximately an hour by car.

 

Top attractions of Hainanese Village

Longhouses

Hainan villagers of yesteryears used to stay in longhouses. But the outlook of said longhouses differs from that of the Ibans. By looking from the front, the size of the house is similar alike other houses. The difference could be seen when one steps into the building. Inside, you could see a long corridor stretching to the far side of the building. At both sides, there are rows of doors. In yesteryears past, behind every door lived a family, and one long house could easily accommodate more than ten families. Nonetheless, most of these houses had been abandoned by their tenants, leaving the past memories to fade inside.

Oi Koon Drama club

Today, passersby would notice that Oi Koon became a club where villagers would gather to play mah-jong or relax. It used to be the founding place of Hainan Opera, and the classes were not only locally renowned but were also well received in Singapore and Thailand. At its peak, it produced two prominent Chinese Opera actors, they are Chen Bai Xue and Fu Hong Mei. While Hainan Opera was slowly abandoned by the following generations, plays are now only carried out during annual prayer rituals.

 

Wu Teck primary school

This is the only school available in the village, it was constructed in 1916. A few years ago, we went to this village and noticed some school children boisterously walking to classes. Sadly, due to a dwindling rate of new students, this primary school was relocated to Parkland in 2011. And the former school is still left there until this day.

 

Zhao Ying Temple

This is historically the oldest temple in the area. Its name was obtained from the Chinese sea goddess (Ma Zu) worshiped by the Hainanese. Ma Zu is also known Linghui Furen (“Lady of Numinous Grace”). This was a sacred place of spiritual sustenance for the Hainanese.

Local delights

The Hainanese are known to be experts in the food industry. Hainanese coffee, tea, and chicken rice are some of their specialties. In the former glory days of the village, there were nine coffee shops being operated simultaneously by the locals. Despite that, there is only one coffee shop remaining today. Operated by a third generation successor, they continued serving visitors aromatic Hainanese coffee accompanied with half boiled egg or bread as breakfast. Of course, you would not be disappointed about the lack of seafood here. There is a restaurant named Fu Ji Seafood which serves the best local cuisine and rated the no.1 barbecue food in Hainan Village is their barbecue Hainan crab.

 The village that witnessed explosive events

Since the establishment of the village, there were two accounts of an explosion near the village. The first was on the Klang pier, the other happened when a cruise ship that was carrying oil exploded, sending bits of debris flying into the village. This caused the villagers to evacuate for a few days due to the occurrence of twin explosions in a short time. Even though the village had been through a lot, those memories are preserved as well. In the following years, the villager’s population steadily declined, and the younger generation would only return for a gathering during festive seasons.

Nowadays, current visitors to this village are unable to experience the boisterous scenes from yesteryears. However, we still find the village unique, and definitely worth a visit to understand the history of dedication by Southern Chinese in constructing the village. Food lovers should rejoice as well and not lose an opportunity to find the Holy Land of Hainanese cuisine!

 

Translated from: 想吃最道地的海南风味,体验最质朴的海南风情,当然要去巴生的海南村!

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