Sungai Yu……Encounter the Beauty of a Fishing Village by the Tidal River
Kampung Sungai Yu is a century-old fishing village in Kuala Selangor. Its earliest history can be traced back to 1888 and its name originates from the local river, Sungai Yu which is a tributary of Selangor River. It is said that this river flowing to the Malacca Strait has a U shape, and hence the name ‘Yu’.
This fishing village area along the river is divided into ‘Ba Tou’, ‘Ba Zhong’, ‘Ba Wei’, ‘Ye Jiao’ and ‘Gang Kou’.
When Chinese ancestors first arrived at Sungai Yu, it was still an uncultivated forested land, so it was called ‘Ba Tou’, which means head of the forest. ‘Ba Wei’ is now the Pasir Penambang Fishing Village; while ‘Ye Jiao’ and ‘Gang Kou’ are where the main street and Pasir Penambang seafood street are located.
With the advantage of near estuarine marshland, Sungai Yu once flourished in the blood cockle, or more locally known as ‘Siham’ farming, and was the largest blood cockle production area in Malaysia until 1998. In its heyday, Sungai Yu also exported blood cockles to foreign countries, and was once called the ‘Hometown of fresh Siham’. Later, due to the newly planned breeding area of the Department of Fisheries was not suitable for bleeding blood cockles, which led to a great blow to the local Siham production and the decline of the sector.
The fishermen here make a living by fishing. There are also many fish processing and downstream production activities. Here, you can see many small processing plants, fish markets, seafood restaurants, etc. The villagers also dry salted fish, prawn crackers, small prawn, etc. in the open air at their courtyards.
Neighboring the Pasir Penambang fishing village, villagers in Kampung Sungai Yu who make a living by fishing are used to the strong winds and waves of the vast sea. They always wear a smile on their faces, and everything here is simple.
Is Siham cockle or clam?
Is the shellfish ‘Siham’ cockle or clam?
‘Siham’ is a type of ‘cockles’, which is also called ‘Ham’ in both Hokkien and Teochew dialects. Its shell is hard and thick, in light brown with a little gray color, the inner wall is white, and the edge is serrated. Clam is more commonly used for ‘Lala’.
Some people referred to ‘Siham’ as ‘dung cockle’. Thinking about eating food with ‘dung’, it's a little awkward, isn’t it? The pronunciation of ‘Siham’ in Cantonese dialect is really like ‘dung cockle’, but blood cockle really has nothing to do with dung!
Simple yet luxurious fishing village breakfast
Breakfast in the fishing village is simple yet luxurious. There is seafood in almost every breakfast, such as chili prawn rice, char kuey teow with blood cockles, square (ray) fish rice, prawn noodles, blood cockle curry noodles, etc., as well as some traditional breakfasts favored by the villagers, such as old-time flavor yong taufu, home-cooked pork rice, soy sauce chicken rice, etc.
There are several coffee shops along a row of traditional old shoplots on the main street of Sungai Yu (also known as Breakfast Street). You can buy your favorite food from any coffee shop and enjoy it at another coffee shop by just ordering your drinks there. Of course, there are also many good foods hidden in the fishing village.
Since most of the villagers are fishermen, they go out to the sea for fishing after a big meal early in the morning. Many stalls are opened as early as 4 a.m., so make sure you come before 9 a.m. for your breakfast. To cater for the labor-intensive fishermen, the food here is also rather heavy.
Sungai Yu Seafood Street
Kuala Selangor is equivalent to seafood thanks to the local prosperous fishery sector. There are more than ten seafood restaurants in Sungai Yu fishing village that offer all kinds of seafood. They are mostly freshly caught and can be prepared in a wide variety of cooking methods, bringing you the most authentic fishing village flavor.
Dazzling array of seafood specialties
Sungai Yu offers a dazzling array of seafood specialties, from fresh seafood to downstream seafood products, such as fish balls, prawn crackers, dried prawns, fish bladders, which can be found in the village specialty stores. Both local wet markets and fish shops sell fresh seafood.
Look out for hermit crabs
Sky Mirror Kuala Selangor is the sea reflecting the sky when the original broad sea forms a shoal because of the ebb tide. It is a unique marine natural wonder. During the short ebb tide period, you can enjoy at the vast view of the sea and sky mirroring each other, look for the traces of hermit crabs on the shoal, and if you are lucky, you may also see pink dolphins.
Mesmerizing sunset at the fishing village
There is nothing more mesmerizing than a sunset at a fishing village.
At Sungai Yu, you get to witness the sun setting on the horizon line at the sea as golden glittering waves of sunlight rippling towards the shore. Many seafood restaurants here are built along the river, so you can enjoy a sumptuous meal of seafood while enjoying the sunset. The Rainbow River Embankment is also a hot spot for watching the sunset, and you may catch all kinds of birds wandering in the mangrove.
Siham Road, the collective memory
The Siham Road in Sungai Yu is a collection of local history.
In the fishing village, houses are built along the river and most stilt roads are paved with cement. The Siham Road is the only road paved with shells of blood cockles. The shells accumulated for decades are built into a 4-feet-high Siham Road.
There was a job here called cockle peeling. The worker peeled the cockle for its meat inside, and the shells were thrown into the gap of the stilt road at the door of his home. After years of accumulation, a 20-meter-long Siham Road was paved, which is the collective memory of the whole village and records the passage of time in the fishing village.
Make a Stop at Route Five Cafe
Route Five Cafe is the first ‘culture youth’ cafe in Sungai Yu. It is transformed from a residence on the bank of the river. The back door is a river viewing platform, which is simple in design while retaining a touch of the fishing village. Make a stop here to enjoy leisurely life of the fishing village and a mesmerizing sunset.
Sail out as a fisherman
Nothing is more fulfilling than getting food with your own skills. Sail out to the sea and learn from local fishermen about sea fishing, casting nets, and catching fishes. There may be many unexpected surprises waiting for you out at the sea.
Fresh and tender handmade fish balls
Pure handmade fish balls are also one of the many famous local specialty of Sungai Yu. The fish balls here use the meat of swordfish and mackerel, and they are fresh yet tender. Fish paste is also sold to local yong taufu producers to make fish paste fillings.
Fresh handmade fish balls can be bought at several seafood product shops in Gang Kou, including at Perniagaan Hasil Laut Jin Xiang, Old Jetty Trading, Kedai Hasil Laut Hai Chan Heng, etc.
Prawn cracker and coconut water make the best pair
In hot days, prawn crackers and coconut water make the best pair. Both Sungai Yu and Pasir Penambang are rich in white prawn, which are also made into prawn cracker. Pure handmade, plus the plump and fresh meat prawn, this genuine prawn cracker has become a household snack and a must-buy local specialty product when traveling to Kuala Selangor. A stroll in the Sungai Yu fishing village, you can see that every family is drying prawn crackers in front of their house.
‘Fried prawn cake’ is also a snack that cannot be missed. The famous Ah SIM Deep Fried Prawn Cake is widely known for its crisp and golden fried prawn cake with fat prawns.
A Fishing Village Love Poem
The most romantic thing in the fishing village is ‘the husband catches fish and the wife mends the net’. Every family in the village, who is engaged in fishing, the wives must know the skill of mending the net.
Mending fishing nets is not as simple as mending clothes, because the nets used for fishing and prawn catching are different. The size of the holes in the nets, the layering inside and outside, etc., every inch is important, and when necessary, both hands and feet are used! Walking around the fishing village, you may see women sitting outside the house, buttoning the fishing net with their toes, controlling the ‘needle and thread’ with their hands.
Centennial Sungai Yu ‘Na Tok Kong’ Temple
The centennial Sungai Yu ‘Na Tok Kong’ Temple is located on the bank of the Selangor River at ‘Ba Tou’. Local villagers believe that ‘Na Tok Kong’ will protect the fishermen going to sea.
In the early years, the temple was originally built in the water, but it was moved three times, and finally moved to its current location due to the waves and coastal land erosion. According to the elderly in the village, the temple had existed when they were young. It is believed that this temple has existed for nearly a hundred years.
Another version is that in the early years of Indonesia's exclusion of Chinese, the Chinese who reached here fled to a mound on the riverbank. Since then, they believed that the spirit on the mound had protected their safety, and they began to worship it. Later, it gradually evolved into a ‘Na Tok Kong’ Temple.
On the left and right sides of the ‘Na Tok Kong’, there are two "shark swords" of several feet long, which are saws of saw shark. In the early days, when fishermen caught the fish in the sea, they thought that the saws were sturdy, majestic and cautious. They took them down and kept them as a token of remembrance. Later, they became treasure of the Sungai Yu ‘Na Tok Kong’ Temple.
To keep the incense fire of the temple burning, there is a custom in the village. A bamboo stick will be passed around every family in the village. The family that gets the stick will go to the temple to worship for seven consecutive days, and then pass the stick to the next family. This means that the incense fire of the temple spreads throughout the village and blesses every family.
Boat washing on the dock
Just like cars, fishing boats need regular maintenance.
Fishing boats work on sea all the year round, and the bottom of the boats is full of marine plankton (barnacles). It will erode the bottom of the boat, seriously damage the hull, and may also cause the fishing boat to run aground.
Fishermen will regularly park their boats to the dock for cleaning, regular engine maintenance, engine oil replacement, etc. The scene is magnificent, and you can't miss it. Occasionally, there will be fishing boats stopping at the ship-washing dock for cleaning and repair. So be sure to catch them if you can!
Abundance of accommodation choices
A day trip to Sungai Yu is never enough! After walking through the fishing village, enjoying the sunset, and had a seafood dinner, let’s spend a night here to experience the special breakfast of the fishing village the next morning. Sunga Yu offers abundance of accommodation choices, including backpack inn, homestay and hotel, which is simple and comfortable and caters to all types of travelers.
Route Five Hostel Kuala Selangor
is a bookstore theme hostel that takes the library as an element and integrates the design aesthetics of bookstore and accommodation. The bed and bookshelf are perfectly in sync to ensure comfort and artistic atmosphere. A variety of dorm options are available, including 2-bed dorm, 4-bed dorm, 10-bed dorm, and whole unit, which can accommodate 14 people at a time.
is a traditional house in the fishing village located near Sungai Yu’s Seafood Street, which is just a few minutes' walk away. The homestay used to be a barber shop and it gives travelers the feel of grandma’s home. It has 9 rooms, which can accommodate up to 22 people. Each room has its own bathroom. You can rent the whole house, or just a single room.
There is a stretch of double-storey townhouses in the adjacent Eco Symphony Residence area, which can be booked simply by visiting major booking websites.
is located on the riverbank in ‘Gang Kou’. It is a 3-storey building with a viewing platform, where travelers can enjoy a panoramic view of sunset, the river and fishing dock. The hotel is about 100 meters away from the main street, and Breakfast Street, local product stores, seafood restaurants, wet market, etc. are all within walking distance.