Balek Kampong – A Return to Village Dwelling

May 22, 2008 at 12:47 am | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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Chickens running wild, grannies trimming plants, neighbours chit-chating outside houses, kids playing hop-scotch…These images came into my mind whenever the word “kampong”  (village in Malay) is mentioned. I am no stranger to kampong life as my maternal grandmother used to live in a wooden house at her Chua Chu Kang farm when I was really young. During my very few visits there (before the government took over the land lor!), I vividly remembered the large open vegetation field and the many fruit trees. Kampongs were slowing phased out from the 1960s following the relocation to public housing estates due to the common problem of poor sanitation and diseases. In modern day Singapore, tall residential and commercial buildings, new cars, clean streets are common sight, so it came to no surprise that many people do not know of the existence of this small kampong that is nestled in a forest clearing next to the housing estates. Having read many times about the last kampong in Singapore, Itchyfingers decided to pay it a visit before it, too, gives way to urban progress and development.

Welcome to Kampong Lorong Buangkok, the last village on mainland of Singapore, also known as “Selak Kain” (to pull up one’s sarong/skirt) due to it being prone to flooding. True enough, there was a sign with flood warning to the residents standing at the entrance. A pity I lost the pic, probably due to file corruption 😦   We passed by a workshop playing loud chinese songs and smiled to the guy there before following the way into the kampong.

The rainy season left the ground damp with puddles of water

The reason why Kampong Lorong Buangkok, built about 60 years ago, still remains, is because the owner Ms Sng Mui Hong has been rejecting offers to buy over her land of 12,248 sq m plot – about the size of three football fields.

We were there on a Saturday morning late last year. Some reports said that there were about 14 families left but we could hardly find any residents, except the occasional sounds coming out from some houses. A totally different scenario from what I had expected leh… Probably most had gone out for work or to shop for groceries at the nearby housing estate, we thought.

Behind locked gates…

Er, harrow, anyone home? Bo lan leh….(nobody leh)

Doors shut tight…why did it remind me of the housing estates where
neighbours hardly know each other cos doors are always shut…?

The small wooden gate helped to prevent small kids from straying out
and also keep out animals

A rustic feel

Then we saw a Malay uncle walking out slowly to collect the morning papers at the other side. He looked a bit grumpy, so we didn’t dare to take his picture…only smiled at him…:p

Malay uncle disappeared quickly into the house…by the way, I wonder
if they have internet access?

Ever since the bird flu saga in Asia, live chickens had been a rare sight…

So I was thrilled to find a family of four roaming freely…

Er, that looked like blood stain…from the chicken??? :O

Probably because there were more Malays living the the kampong, so
no dogs were seen. The only dog around was a sculptured one guarding
this small shrine

Oil lamp outside a chinese home

Making a turn to the other side, we found this at the back of a house…

The loo…wow! Should have removed the basin to take a proper picture
of the female loo sign to add to
our collection! The one on the left looked
like the bathroom….

The one on the right…a primitive but “down-to-earth” squat toilet…
fully equipped with a butt spray….

Zinc, wood, wire…whatever could be found could end up as part of the home…
Old rice sacks were used to cover the muddy ground too!

There seemed to be no rules here – the way of life appeared in a spontaneous if not chaotic manner, where belongings were left randomly outside the house, pots of plant left unattended…Life was simple, with no air-conditioning, a must-have for many young generation.

So you could imagine our surprise when I found this at a secluded corner…

The boat seemed to be pointing to us the way to what I would call
“The Secret Garden”…

A stark contrast from the rest.

Find out more on the next post! 8)

Also see related posts:
> Answer to Nature’s Call #1 – Toilet Signs, Bangkok
> Far from the Madding Crowd
> Heartbreak Hotel in the Lost World 
> Tang! Die-nasty


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