Even though I have been around in Singapore for a long time but I have never visited a kampong before. In Jan 2013, I asked Philip whether we can pay a visit to this last kampong in Singapore. He agreed. He came with Mark Ong, another friend who was also interested in this living museum.
The Living Museum
This living museum had gathered much attention in media in the recent years. Visitors from all walks of life came to photograph, speak to the residents and understood the kampong better. We did that too. We were lucky to speak to the kampong chief, Ms Sng Mui Hong. She was the daughter of Sng Teow Koon who acquired this piece of land from Mr Huang Yu Tu in 1956.
You can read more about the kampong in the Wikipedia at :
While we were there, there was filming going on. From what I understood, they were making a video for a Chinese temple. Mediacorps actress, Yvonne Lim 林湘萍,acted as a pregnant woman. She was walking toward us. We passed each other with a smile. One of the kampong chief nicer houses was being use for the filming.
Cats and dogs roamed around the kampong freely. You may find fishes along the drains. The famous kampong chickens with beautiful feathers were all over the side road, crossing canal in strict order.
You can spot self-made swings hanging over the tree branches. Some even make good use of unwanted chair for the swing. It is everyone imagination and creativity to create things that provide a piece of uniqueness and peaceful living. The old world of Singapore trapped within the 21st Century. I don’t think our watch have stopped since 1956 which the birth year of this kampong.
We met a few of the old residents. Since I started to blog recently, I could not recall their names as this visit took place in January 2013. Generally, they have something to say about their kampong. I can only recall our kampong chief story.
She told us once there was an old resident used to stay in this kampong. He came back and rented a house. He rebuilt the house and tries to rent out the house to others. He was able to make a huge profit by renting out the rebuilt house since the rent paid to the kampong chief was cheap. Kampong chief sent him a notice to shift out as it is not right to rent out the house to others. Finally, with the government notice to shift out letter, they shifted out and could not recover the cost of the rebuilt house. The house was pulled down as it does not fit into this kampong. Since then, that part of the kampong was left vacant. The kampong chief could have raise the rent to the current market rental pricing but that was not what his father wanted for this kampong.
The other old resident is this friendly man.
Flora and Fruits
The residents find time to grow medicinal herbs and fruits. You may find coconut tree, rambutan, guava and many other local fruits. These local fruits trees were once common sights in Singapore. With ever changing landscape in Singapore, many of these fruit trees have disappeared. You can still find them in this kampong. One of the residents, an elderly Malay lady took pride of her fruit trees and herbs plant in her garden. We may not speak Malay, but we are Singaporean. The hand gesture does help in our communication.
The price of developing Singapore is a huge one. Not financially but in term of our lost heritage. We have lost many of our old buildings, old houses, traditional trade and even some of our customs. This last kampong should be preserved. It is a living museum. It is where we can bring our children to feel what the old Singapore was in the 1950s. This is an original one. Not a rebuilt kampong.
Someone may argue that kampong can still be found in Malaysia and Indonesia but what is great about this kampong is that it is still part of the Singapore mainland. This is our common heritage and it should remain as it is. I don’t think our present government need this small piece of land so desperately. Let it be there forever as part of our living museum.
I shall revisit it again in 2014. Let us be passionate and proud of our heritage.
More photos can be found at my Flickr account : https://www.flickr.com/photos/seedimage/sets/72157648787211966/