THE small township of Bagan Datuk in Perak was buzzing with tourists several weeks ago, before the movement control order (MCO) took effect.
Known primarily for its scrumptious seafood, the town centre slowly gained the attention of visitors over the years as some new attractions – colourful shophouses and myriad of street art – became popular backdrops for taking photos.
Sabahan Annie Tan is impressed with the art on the walls as these give the town – known as just a fishing district for many years – a new lease of life.
“It is good that the town has these murals, it really gives Bagan Datuk a fresh new vibe.
“More visitors are coming here now, ” said the confinement lady.
“My favourite is the woman in a sarong. It gives me a historical feel of the Malay community, ” she added.
The 52-year-old hopes to see more murals in the future.
“My first visit here was last year but at the time, there were not as many murals.
“I hope the state government can help to spruce up the area, as some of the murals are painted on unattractive walls, ” she added.
A tourist who only wished to be known as Lai, 43, from Johor Baru, said the murals made it worthwhile to visit the town.
“Although we have kin staying nearby in Bagan Datuk, this is our first visit to see the street art.
“I love how colourful they are and how unique each mural is, ” she said.
“I plan to take family photos with the murals, ” she added.
The murals, which are located in an alley in front of the Bagan Datuk Square, depict a variety of subjects including cats, otters, hibiscus and coconuts.
There are also drawings of padi fields, fish and boats.
Located in the south-west part of the state, Bagan Datuk has a population of about 70,000 people.
The town began drawing tourists in recent years as people started discovering its unique features.
Some of its attractions are a river cruise at a firefly sanctuary, taking reflective pictures a la “sky mirror” and digging for clams at a beach as well as the “blue tears” phenomenon at Pulau Sembilan.
Bagan Datuk is also the place where Perak sultans perform the ritual of dipping their feet in Sungai Perak at the Beras Basah sandbar to ascend the throne, as Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah did in 2015.
This is to commemorate the moment the first Sultan of Perak, Sultan Muzaffar Shah, stepped foot near the sandbar and in the state following his arrival from Sumatera, Indonesia.
Rusniyati Abdul Rahim, 48, hopes more tourist attractions will be created in the town.
Currently residing in Gombak, Selangor, Rusniyati said her husband, Mohamad Zazli Isa, was from Bagan Datuk and they came back often to visit his family.
“I am glad that this town has slowly transformed to be an attractive place that is drawing the attention of visitors.
“We always go to the town, especially the square and Bagan Datuk jetty, with the children.
“However, we have noticed that the town lacks eateries and cafes. There are plenty of shop lots but most of them are closed, ” she said.
“There are small vendors and traders selling street food but having eateries offering Bagan Datuk’s delicacies will be better for tourists, ” she added.
A local who only wished to be known as Devi said the number of tourists coming to the town had risen because of the murals.
“If I’m not mistaken, the murals were painted sometime last year. Some of the shop lots were also painted with bright colours around the same time.
“A lot of tourists are happy to come here. They have been saying that the town looks brighter and more cheerful, ” said the 32-year-old clerk.
“Hopefully the local government will continue to maintain this new image of the town.
“There’s still much to improve on, perhaps the government can think of adding more benches and shady spots for tourists and locals to use, ” she added.
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