There are many natural and unnatural items that often wash up ashore, but when it comes to glass bottles, Tengku Mohamad Ali Mansor has made it his sole mission to gather and collect them.
The 74-year-old has been ridding Malaysia’s beaches of glass for the past 15 years. This has led to his collection of 9,000 bottles which is now displayed at a traditional, colourful seaside museum in Terengganu.
“Each bottle that I find, we have to interact with them,” he said in a video by AFP. “Like I would say, ‘Oh how beautiful you are, praise be to God that I met you. I will bring you home, I will put you in my bottle gallery.'”
The bottles in his makeshift gallery come in different shapes, sizes and colours from all over the world. Once, he even found a message with Chinese characters written on paper in a bottle.
The gallery is not only meant for the public’s viewing pleasure but also as an SOS to the world to save the environment before it is too late.
Tengku Mohammad’s quest for glass-free beaches definitely contributes to helping the environment and preventing accidents on the beach as well. He also advises the public to dispose of their garbage correctly and to not pollute the beaches.
“With a cheerful heart, I feel like I’m having fun picking up bottle by this beach… it gives a healthy impact to my heart,” he said.
According to The Star, Tengku Ali’s obsession with collecting glass bottles started in 2015 when he saw children blowing up empty bottles with fireworks. Concerned for their safety he told them that he would pay for any glass bottles that they find, and they returned with over 500.
During the coronavirus lockdown earlier this year, the retired ex-soldier turned bottle collector would keep himself busy by glueing glass shards together to make bottle shapes in a style similar to Japanese “kintsugi”, where broken pottery is repaired with lacquer mixed with powdered gold as reported in AFP.
Tengku Ali vows to continue his quest as long as he lives.
“People think I’m crazy, but I don’t care,” he said.
“Allah knows what I am doing. I do this because I love this world.”