Rumah Rakit or House on the Rafts, were once the popular attraction of Kuala Lipis. During its popular time, there about 10 raft houses in the river. The houses were just like any other traditional Malaysian houses on land, with bedrooms kichen and living room, except the house was built on a set of bamboo rafts. It was anchored to big trees on the bank. Double planks of wood were used as a walkway from the bank to the floating house. As the level of the river rises or falls, the walking planks have to adjusted accordingly.
The attraction of rumah rakit was just like the attraction of the animals at the zoo.People dont really like the animals, except for the joy of observing it. It was the same for rumah rakit, people like to see because it was different. They would not like to stay in it, as, although the raft houses were situated in a town, they devoid the basic amenities of running water and electricity.
It was not known, how it started. What actually motivated the people to build the house on the bamboo raft, as land was not in acute shortage. It was so peculiar, and you cannot really find it in another part of the country. I could only suspect that it was related to the group of Malays who live on the in certain part of Indonesia.
The set of rafts made from bamboo, become the float. he supplies of bamboos was not a problem, as bamboo grew freely on the banks. At that was needed was to cut it down and throw them into the river, gather and transport them to the raft. When I was young, I was wondering how the house kept afloat as I knew the bamboo will not last long. After about 3 years, it will slowly lost its buoyancy as the bamboo began to crack. I was told that the bamboo can be replaced, piece by piece.
The people from Kelantan used live in the rafts. They were small scale traders, called 'peraih' in the local dialect. The brought goods from Kelantan, things such as Thai rice, food and keropok and sold them on the street. They also supplied sea food. like fish, crabs and prawn to the local market.
Lately, for the last 10 years, the raft house started to disappear. It started when the local authorities, saw the potential of the raft house as tourist attraction. So they decided to take advantage of it and built the modern rumah rakit and turn it into Hotel and chalets. The project failed miserably. And from then onwards, the rumah rakit, once a symbol of Kuala Lipis, was phased out of existence.
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