THE Kampung Bagan Jalan Pantai bridge in Kuala Kurau, Kerian in Perak is now a popular tourist spot after it appeared in a drama with a Malaysian and South Korean cast.
The image of South Korean actor Kim Ho-Won and local actress Chen Xin Yu, standing in a romantic pose with the bridge as the backdrop, has benefited villagers as many tourists are now stopping to take photos of themselves at the bridge in the little fishing village.
The actors were among the cast of a romantic comedy ShunPong O (or Shen Feng Yu based on the Chinese name of the film).
The almost two-century-old village shot to fame overnight when the drama was shot there for about a month after Chinese New Year this year.
Kampung Bagan Jalan Pantai chief Tan Boo Nam said villagers were very proud and excited that their village was chosen as one of the locations, adding that the rest of the shooting had included places in South Korea and Vietnam.
“We are now looking forward to watching the drama which is scheduled to be aired next Chinese New Year,” a visibly proud Boo Nam told StarMetro.
He said there was an increase in tourist arrivals since the film was shot.
Villager Teoh Kim Kooi, who has kept newspaper cuttings of the filming at the bridge, said the village’s beautiful landscape was the reason why it was chosen as a film location.
“Even after visiting other countries, we have always felt our village is beautiful and has so much to offer,” said Boo Nam, who has been on overseas trips with Teoh.
Teoh, 70, and Boo Nam, 63, arrived from China to Malaya in 1955 and 1960, respectively.
They have been neighbours and close friends since then.
Both were eight years old when they arrived at the village and both could clearly remember the villagers’ warmth and friendliness in welcoming them.
Teoh recalled that villagers led a simple life and most were fishermen.
He said Kuala Kurau was an important port for the transportation of goods by boat along Sungai Kurau until the 1960s.
“There was a small jetty and a Customs office here,” he said pointing to a concrete slab and a wooden shack with rusty zinc roof next to the Chua Boon Leng Temple in the little commercial square of the village.
From the beautiful scenery, good food, historical places especially its temples to warm and friendly villagers, Boo Nam stressed that the almost 200-year-old village has huge tourism potential.
Its strategic location, about an hour’s drive from Penang’s Bayan Lepas Airport and also an hour’s drive from Ipoh (exit at the Taiping Utara toll), makes it easy for visitors.
Boo Nam said there had been a gradual increase in tourist arrivals in the past two years, and attributes this to the rising popularity of eco-tourism.
Visitors go to Kuala Kurau to watch migratory birds, visit its mangrove swamps and a coal factory in nearby Kuala Gula.
Besides its fresh and dried seafood, the village is also famous for its salted eggs.
The village’s Joo Hong Chan Salted Egg factory has been in operation for over 30 years.
Its owner Tan Swee Lee, 50, said six bus loads of tourists visited his factory over the weekend, recently.
He said his father Tan Hang Leng had switched to the salted egg business when he found the family’s original business of selling chicks was no longer viable.
Swee Lee and his wife Kang Gaik Heoh, 45, run the business together and have 15 workers.
“Our village is very famous for its salted eggs,” said Teoh of the predominantly Teochew village.
The clan is also known for making good salted eggs.
New village development officer Chuah Hang Meng said the attractions in the village were suitable for all age groups.
He said the young, energetic and adventurous could explore the place by bicycle and enjoy nature and the simple way of life in a fishing village.
“The slow-paced lifestyle here is also good for relaxation.
“Young children, especially from cities, will also enjoy the experience of life in a fishing village,” he added.
Chuah said organising cycling or walking events were among ways to introduce the village and its surroundings to the outside world.
The beauty of the village and Kuala Kurau might not be known to many but the drama once aired, will help boost tourism.