Siput Kepah Dance
By Eric Chong
In Langkawi, there is a traditional
though somewhat obscure dance called the Siput Kepah dance. This is an outdoor
dance performed only seasonally on estuaries. The only musical instruments
accompanying this dance is a piece of broken coconut shell scrapping the
sand. The dancers move to the rhythm of the scraping sounds.
The main movement comes from their Gluteus Maximus, in short their backsides.
With their gluteus stuck out in the air, their heads stuck somewhat between
their legs, and their hands armed with a broken piece of coconut shell, the
Siput Kepah dance is performed by jiggling or swaying the widest and highest
part of the anatomy at that moment.
The Siput Kepah dance is performed not for
its artistic values but to meet the basic need of survival. These
dancers are actually digging for the seasonal cockles
Siput Kepah. To locals, cockles are categorized in many different names.
If you mentions cockles people here will think that you are talking about
hum which is a different types of edible seashell.
Right: the "dancers" out at the
of estuaries during low
In the evenings, it is a common sight to see the estuaries around Langkawi
teeming with locals of all ages some surprisingly well dressed for
just digging for Siput Kepah. At low tide, the banks of the estuaries stretches
out into the sea for a good half kilometer. Within these three hours or so,
the Siput Kepah harvesters must dig for their meals. The Siput Kepah are
found from an inch to three inches from the surface of the sand. Most of
the harvesters use a fragment of a coconut shell to dig for the cockles.
They look for anything thats slightly oval shaped. More often then
not, its the tasty siput waiting to be picked up. The Siput Kepah is
placed in the pocket, a plastic bag or a container. If youre new at
this, dont just throw them out of their hole onto the sand. Dead as
they may look, they can still burrow their way back into the sand when
youre not looking.
In search of Siput Kepah.
|Once the tide starts to rise again,
its time to go home to cook the siput. The simplest and tastiest method
of cooking is to fry the siput with a bit of ginger and some thick soy sauce.
Youll be surprised to see that no matter how many siput you cook,
theyre never enough.
The Siput Kepah dance is performed along most estuaries
at the change of the monsoon season May to June and October to November.
The main estuaries being Kuala Melaka (close to Delima Resort), Kuah river
(in town) and Tanjung Rhu.
Now that you have an understanding of the Siput
Kepah dance, you may join them in their evening exercise. This is a profitable
way to spend your evening as youre sure to be able to end up with at
least a handful of cockles for your dinner.
Mysterious Caves of Langkawi, Malaysia
With over 99 islands and
islets, Langkawi is home to many caves which are at once mysterious and eerie
the likes of which include Gua Langsir (Caves of the Wailing Banshee)
which is believed to be haunted by the spirits of a woman who, like the vampire,
lives on the blood of humans.
This book is a first of its
kind and the most comprehensive to date, taking readers deep into the bowels
of these caves and unearthing some of its secrets.
peak offers respite from the tropical heat and rewards visitors with a bird's
eye view of the islands.
Eric Chong studies the science behind the magic of a local witch
doctor(bomoh)'s "therapy of pain". In the process, he cautions against
One of the less appealing
denizen of the Langkawi waters, the Gamat is a species of sea cucumber
which hold many healing and medicinal properties. Join the writer as he dispenses
facts, stories and a gruesome