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Kampung Melor Lama's 'Kopitiam Beruk'

Last update: 12/08/2019
By Habsah Ismail

KOTA BHARU, Aug 12 (Bernama) -- You’ve heard of people going to a kedai kopi (coffee shop), but ever heard of monkeys, too? And not just that, but to have a brekkie of rice mixed with raw egg or kuih, and milk or soda, before heading off to work to harvest coconuts?

Every morning around 7am, monkey handlers and their monkeys from around the area come to “Warung Kopitiam Beruk” in Kampung Melor Lama, Melor which was started by Rohaida Ibrahim almost 10 years ago to fuel-up, talk shop and conduct a monkey trade – almost like a one-stop centre.

“It’s fun to watch the monkeys eating but even more enjoyable to watch them being dotted on by their handlers and hand-fed kuih like Cik Mek and doughnuts, and drinking milk or milo,” the 40-year-old told Bernama recently.

Her husband, Mohd Saiful Mohd Sori, 45, is a monkey handler as well, and has been rearing monkeys to pick coconuts for more than 20 years.

“Usually the monkeys eat what I eat. If the master eats rice, it eats rice too. If I drink Milo, it too drinks Milo.

“This place is ‘legendary’ because this is where we come to talk about monkeys. In fact, the group here has organised many coconut-plucking competitions which has attracted a lot of interest, including from foreign tourists,” said the owner of a monkey named, Dolah, 15.

He added that at least when the other monkeys come to the shop, Dolah has friends to hang out with like Mamat, 2, owned by Mat Zain Hamzah, 80; Din, 4, owned by Mohd Yusoff Yaacob, 66 from Kampung Alor Bakat; and female monkey, Saripah, 1, owned by Aznan Mohamad, 32.

Kechik, 6, owned by Zaidi Zakaria, 50, from Kampung Pondok, comes in a special cage because he’s fierce.

“He weighs 10kg and called ‘Kechik’ because I got him when he was very small, but till today, he’s still not very friendly with me. He’s bit me thrice. I have a scar on my pinky,” he said.

On the monkeys and their job to pick coconuts in order for their handlers to earn an income, Zaidi said they are given just simple commands like "Ish ambil" or "Eh atas" (to pluck a young coconut), and "Yak" (to forbid).

Yasin Awang Puteh, 72, from Kampung Merbau, said he’s had Mat Soyok aka Koyak for five years and the monkey is a good worker, able to pluck 200-300 coconuts a day when the pair work from 7am-11am.

His tip on male monkeys?

“You have to know what a male monkey is like, which is he is very jealous of women … he’ll start sulking. So the trick is to soothe him by stroking his body or feeding him food or a drink,” said Yasin.

-- BERNAMA






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