FEAR NOT: Despite its bloodcurdling name, visitors to this village in Tumpat do not bear witness to scenes of carnage. The only 'killing' that happened, as Sharifah Mahsinah Abdullah discovers, involved schools of fish trapped in a net
FOR obvious reasons, visitors passing through rustic Kampung Bunohan on their way to Tumpat in Kelantan can't help but feel a chill run down their spine.
The name of the village has mystified travellers who wonder if massacres were or are the order of the day in the village.
And it doesn't help that the village is located along Jalan Kota Baru-Pengkalan Kubor (Jetty of the Graves).
Residents of the village are used to the wary looks of outsiders and their fear of treading too close to Kampung Bunohan lest they be pounced on by some hitman.
Fortunately, 95-year-old Senin Ismail is still around to set the record straight on how the village got its name.
Senin remembers well a story told by his grandparents of how some villagers were always very lucky when they fished in the river running through the village.
"They used a trap called bunohan and made a bountiful catch every time. The haul was so big that the pile of fish looked like a small mountain," he said, gesturing animatedly to emphasise his point.
The massive haul grabbed the attention of other folk, who would often exclaim: "Banyaknya ikan demo bunoh! (That's a lot of fish you killed!)"
Senin said the story of the fish being bunoh (killed) had stood the test of time and most of the villagers had come to accept it as part of Kampung Bunohan's history.
However, he said outsiders were not totally wrong to assume that murder had a part in the naming of Kampung Bunohan.
"I was told that there were many killings during World War 2 around the village when Thai soldiers clashed with villagers, including the local Siamese community."
Senin said there were several attempts to change the name of the village to something that sounded more pleasant.
"Residents and the authorities, such as the police, were dissatisfied with the name Bunohan and decided to change it to some other name but to no avail.
"Everyone kept referring to it as Kampung Bunohan and the name stuck," said Senin, who now lives in nearby Kampung Telaga Bata.
Another villager who wanted to be known only as Ah Chat, 50, said in the past many people were scared to visit the village as they mistakenly thought that they might get beaten up by gangsters.
"This happened a long time ago as they did not know the real story behind the name.
"My parents told me some visitors would even make a detour or backtrack upon reaching the village for fear of thugs in Kampung Bunohan."
Kelantan Siamese Association chairman Eh Chot Cha Chan said the fish harvest could be the real story of how Kampung Bunohan got its name.
"Villagers kept repeating the story every time I bring foreigners who want to know how Kampung Bunohan got its name.
"Some of the foreigners appeared to be taken aback by the story, while others just broke into smiles as they found it funny," said Eh Chot.
Despite its macabre name, he said Kampung Bunohan continued to receive local and foreign visitors as it had many attractions such as Buddhist temples and its proximity to the popular duty-free zone in Pengkalan Kubor.
"Kampung Bunohan and nearby villages are also venues for tourism programmes such as the Thai celebrations of Loy Kratong and Songkran (water festival)," he said.
And thanks to the acclaimed movie Bunohan, which was shot in the village, Kampung Bunohan is drawing in the crowds for the right reasons.