Day: September 24, 2012

6) Life – The Last Kampong

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Recently visited Singapore’s last Kampong – The Surau Kampong.  The Kampong is located in Buangkok, nearby the old Woodbridge Hospital which is now known as Institute of Mental Health.

“Kampong” in Malay literally means village.  In olden days, Kampong is the main building form before the reinforcement of concrete technology is established.

The common scene in Kampongs during rainy seasons is fun and memorable.  Villagers chasing after ducks and chickens, hastening to bring in clothes from their clothes lines to keep away from flood and rain, whilst barefooted kids and dogs hastily fleeing to find their own shelters.  Sadly, this amusing scene is a memory of the past in Singapore with the exception for this little last Kampong.

Kampong houses are usually constructed with zinc roofs and timber walls with windows and doors.  Floors are usually laid with cement screed and it feels chilling whenever you step on the floor day or night.  Leaving each other’s door open is a common sight in a Kampong.  That was the trust and camaraderie the villagers had for each other.

Wind charms, tree houses, birds, chicken, ducks, dogs, cats, fruit trees, flowers, make-shift fencing, stand alone post box, shabby toilets, raw and unpolished nature landscapes are the elements of Kampongs.

Smells of chicken poo floating in the air; gecko’s calling; mosquitoes whizzing in your ears; lizards clicking on the wall; cricket’s chirping with their dance; dogs bucking in the night; frogs singing with their orchestra are just part of the calling soul of a Kampong.

The Surau Kampong currently houses 28 families – 10 Malays and 18 Chinese.  In time to come, it may not be able to protect its own boundary.  As life is impermanent, more than ever in this fast changing Lion City.  Before Singapore gobbles up its last village, let’s step in more often to this carefree and slower pace of life as compared to the urban contemporaries.