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DON’T JUDGE SETIU FROM ITS BRACKISH WATER
The only thing that came across my mind when I first heard the word of Setiu is the lyrics from ‘Terengganu Kita’ song by Iklim, which are ‘Di setiu pata peranginan’ or can be directly translated into ‘Setiu is tourist beach’. Since then, my thought about Setiu will always be beautiful sandy beaches with tourists from all over the world.
Somehow, when I first stepped my two feet on the Setiu land during a volunteer programme organised by WWF, all my expectations turn 360 degrees. There is no beach at all. Only smelly, dirty, and murky brakish water with an extra pain when my feet suddenly mistepped on the mangrove roots.
Well, that was my first encounter. The next year, I volunteered for the same programme. My view was still the same. Here and there was mangroves and brackish water. But, the second time was much better when my friend invited the team to attempt to collect ‘lokan’, which is the mud clams and one of the speciality in Setiu. We accepted the challenge and managed to collect two buckets full of ‘lokan’.
From my experiences, I found that I don’t hate Setiu and neither do I like Setiu. While preparing my research proposal, my supervisor suggested to choose Setiu Wetland as the study site. Although the suggestion is well accepted, but I already imagining how unexciting my sampling would be.
Preparation after preparation, then in August 2017, my team consists of Mr Roslan Latif, Mr Afifi Johari, and me myself went to Setiu Wetland for my first sampling. My first sampling really change my view about Setiu. It is not all about mangroves and brackish water, but more than that. In Setiu Wetland especially, there is sandy beach, lagoon, estuary, islands, and of course mangrove forest.
The second sampling on December 2017 was so much more fun because we were able to fill up our stomach really well with the seafood from Setiu such as the mud crab, prawns, and mussels while completing our tasks. Plus, we have got an additional member (Ms Nur Amalina Rizal) to help the works.
As I am writing this article, my head is already planning on what to explore and what to cook in Setiu on my next sampling. Now I strongly believed the verse ‘perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you’.
Zuraini Zainol is a PhD candidate from Institute of Oceanography and Environment, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu.