THE arch of Kampung Baru Salak, Sepang, is flanked by a row of shoplots along a busy main road.
Village chief Wong Thian Yew explained that salak trees once stood where the shoplots are now.
“The village was established by Hainanese people who migrated here in the late 19th century.
“The salak tree fruit was known as she pi guo (snake fruit) as its skin resembles that of a snake.
“The fruit was very popular among locals and this is how the new village got its name,” he said.
The villagers were forced by the British colonial administration to move into settlements identified as “new villages” as part of a strategy to cut off any communication and aid to communist insurgents.
The villagers then used to work in rubber estates as well as durian and oil palm plantations.
However, with the agricultural land being used for other purposes, including the KL International Airport (KLIA), the villagers had to shift to other jobs.
Most opened shops along the main road. The houses too have been renovated but some traditional wooden and attap dwellings remain.
Wong Ah Muy, 80, who has stayed in the same wooden house for about 60 years, reminisced about how he used to collect firewood for cooking.
“I used to stay in the rubber estate before moving into this house.
“I would collect firewood and store it under the stove,” he said, adding that he only started using a gas stove several years ago.
The village which is located near the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) is also known as a food paradise.
Chicken rice shop owner Chia Keak Fui, 52, proudly displays pictures of Formula 1 cars in his shop.
“International racers from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, Thailand and the Philippines will stop by my shop for food whenever there is a race in SIC.
“We also get orders and I often deliver the food to the circuit,” he said.
The village also has a Chinese temple.
Temple manager Lim Kim Hock said the temple is dedicated to the Hainan goddess Shui Wei Sheng Niang.
“Hainanese villagers would pray for a safe return while going out to sea,” he said.
Wong said the Hainanese population has been decreasing.
“The villagers also comprise Hokkien, Hakka, Cantonese and other dialect groups.
“The village becomes crowded during Chinese New Year as the young will return here.
“Some houses are empty as the owners have moved out,” he said.
SJK (C) Chio Chiao Salak is situated within the village and has about 250 pupils.
“We need to build another block of classrooms as the current one has been damaged by termites,” he said.