Fish touching in Segenting, Batu Pahat
I always heard about ‘Batu, a nice place to go’. Batu is the informal name for the place Batu Pahat (means ‘chiseled rock’ in Malay, 峇株巴辖 in Chinese), which is a district in the state of Johor.
Besides, I heard from my friend, Murphy of a temple in Segenting (石文丁), which is in the west zone of Batu Pahat, and the temple (崇龙宫大伯公庙) is well-known of fish-touching. There are a few arapaima fresh water fishes in the ponds of the temple. There are rumors saying that, touching of these arapaima fishes would bring good luck to the person.
Last week, I told Murphy that I wanted to go to Batu Pahat for a look, and the temple would be a must to visit too. Murphy made a generous offer of driving me there together with Desmond and Dylan. So the next day we departed to Batu Pahat. It took us about 90 minutes drive from Melaka.
Initially we wanted to go to the town of Batu Pahat and hang out there, but we could not make it as time was so limited. We departed late and we didn’t plan to stay overnight, so we gave our priority to the temple in Segenting. On our way to the fish touching temple, we saw many other Chinese Taoism temples in our 15 minutes car ride from the town.
Finally we arrived at the temple in a fishing village of Segenting. It was drizzling when we reached there, however the scenery was so beautiful. The place itself is a fishing village and it is also a tourism village for people who need a real retreat from the busy city life. We then headed to the famous temple by the beach.
The main god of the temple is Da Bo Gong (大伯公, which is “Grand Uncle” in Chinese). There are also Ma Zu (妈祖, the goddess of the sea), Hai Long Wang (海龙王, the dragon king of the sea) and others to protect and bless the villagers and the fishermen. And we did see the arapaima fishes in the pond of the temple. They were huge and would not bite. Some of the arapaima fishes approached us as soon as we put hands into the water. The fishes swam passed us and letting us to touch them. There were also gentle Japanese Koi fishes in one of the ponds.
In addition, we could see the lover bridge (情人桥) from the temple. It is the jetty for the fishing boats and also a romantic spot for dating couples. Young couples regardless local or from outstation always take a slow walk on the bridge and enjoy the warm breeze and romantic sunset. The villagers believe that, after a guy and a girl take a walk on the bridge, they would fall in love and become couples.
In this trip, I learned something new from Desmond. Many Chinese believe in seeking the god’s advice by divination (掷筊). The worshipper usually poses a question, and then phrases an answer, two wooden divinatory blocks are held out upon the two palms, raised about to the level of the forehead of a kneeling worshipper, and allowed to drop on the floor. There are two positions in which each block can land: rounded side up or rounded side down. Therefore there are three combinations of positions, both blocks might land flat side down, both might land rounded side down or each might land differently. If the blocks land in the last combination, one up, one down, then this is taken to indicate confirmation of the answer.
It is believed that when the two blocks land rounded side downward and rock giddily on the floor before coming to rest, the god is amused at the statement put to him, and this position is called ‘laughing jiao’ (笑筊) but when the flat sides come to rest on the floor, so that the blocks fall and come immediately to an abrupt standstill, then anger is indicated. This position is called ‘negative jiao’ (怒筊). The positive fall is the combination of one up and one down, and it is called ‘sacred jiao’ (圣筊).
According to Desmond, it would be good to ask permission from the Grand Uncle in order to snap photos of the gods and temple. In order to show my respect, I dropped the blocks and I got the answer of ‘laughing jiao’. I guessed Grand Uncle was amused at the question I posed. I went to Desmond and asked about the answer I got. He said the god smiled at my question, and the answer was a no. He then advised me to offer incense sticks to the gods of the temple before I asked again. Guess what? Surprisingly after I did that, I got a ‘sacred jiao’ which was a yes to snap photos of the gods and temple.
It started to rain heavily when we decided to leave the village to have our dinner in the town of Batu Pahat. We had no choice but to dine next to the temple for a simple meal although there were many fine seafood restaurants in the village. The rain stopped just as we finished the meals and we headed back to Melaka. On our way back, Murphy did a few stops for me, and I managed to snap the seaview and sunset of Segenting.
It was really a nice trip. How I wish I could be there longer. This would not be my last time to Segenting as I believe I would be there again. The next trip has to be a full day trip. I really appreciate Murphy for driving us there and thanks to Desmond and Dylan for their company. May everyone be happy.