Sunday, April 19, 2009

comparing rural and urban landscapes;
kampong today and kampong of yesteryear


kampong lorong buangkok is a wonderful place to take geography students on a fieldtrip. the two types of landscape - urban and rural - are within sight of each other. as you walk out of the foot path from the village, the tall, modern housing development board (hdb) blocks of flats of buangkok estate, just a few hundred metres way, come into view.


rural folks may not have access to cable tv and the internet but they still can enjoy some modern conveniences like airconditioning, as you can see in this house. the compressor unit is at the back of the house. however, you have to put up more with irritants like the mosquitoes and other insects. i remember my kampong days when the chichak (lizard) always made its appearance when the florescent light came on.



across the canal from the kampong is mugliston park pivate housing estate. you can see the difference in the lifestyle of the people living on the opposite sides of the canal. one thing that i am quite certain is: you do not find domestic helps in these kampong houses.


somehow i can sense that the character of kampongs has changed over the years. when i used to live in a kampong, the front doors were kept open all the time. the only time they would be shut was when the folks retired for the night. today, when we visited lorong buangkok, most of the doors of the houses and those which had gates were shut.



those days, we hardly grew our plants in earthern pots. we either planted them directly in the ground or we used metal tins to contain the plants. we grew plants not for decoration but for their practical utility. in our kampong plots, we grew mainly herbal plants and fruit trees but not so much flowering plants like orchids, hibiscus or bougainvillea.




at kampong lorong buangkok, we found that the villagers were either malay or chinese; we did not see any evidence - like, mango leaves - of any indian family. i find that malays are more creative and artistic when it comes to furnishing their homes. chinese homes can be identified by the red banners hung over the door or the presence of a dog in the compound.

in my former kampong, we had representation from all the four racial groups - the chinese was the biggest group, followed by the malays, then the indians and finally, the eurasians. the chinese belonged to three main dialect groups: hokkien, teochew and hainanese.

one thing which was found in my former kampong but not found at lorong buangkok is the outhouse which served as a toilet. in our kampong, the bathroom was also the toilet where you did your 'small business'. for 'big business' you used the communal latrine.

11 comments:

PChew said...

When chichak (lizard) made its appearance, did you try to catch it? I did. I made a noose (like a hangman's noose that could be tightened when pulled) with a piece of string tied to the end of a stick. I usually catched them at night when they were on the wall or ceiling. I could not remember what I did with them after that.

yg said...

yes, mr chew. the noose made from the coconut leaf stalk. then we attached a small lump of cotton wool near the loop. to lure the chichak, we made the cluck, cluck sound. after that, we fed it to the cat.

kiatsan said...

Yah. This is considered the only and last kampong in Singapore other than the ones at Pulau Ubin. Really a good place to educate the young ones before it is taken back by the government for future development.

It would be a bit weird when you walked out of kampong lorong buangkok and find yourself in an urban area. A total different exposure. I only visited there once but during evening time. A different experience ha.


By the way, YG, do you know of this mysterious sealed bunker at Pearl's Hill City Park? Any idea what it is used for in the past?

Maybe you can brighten me up and lead me to the answer that I am curious about all these years. Please view my blog post below:

http://kiatsans.blogspot.com/2009/04/mysterious-bunker-at-pearls-hill-city.html

nah said...

According to legend, buangkok village was known as “devils’ nest” (kwee siew). The area was a bamboo plantation, and had no street lights. On windy nights, the leaves of the bamboo trees would make a rustling sound, to make the place eerie.
The word ‘buangkok’ means ‘thrown out of the country’. During the British rule, anyone who committed a serious criminal offence, consumed opium, or was involved in secret society, was expelled from the country.

Icemoon said...

I'm curious how authentic are the kampongs in Malaysia today. Do they have Astro at home?

yg said...

kiatsan, frankly, i do not know. i was not even aware of the existence of this bunker at pearl's hill.
anyway, i will ask my oldie friends to see if they know the answer.

yg said...

icemoon, yes, they do. i was driving past this kampong house at kong kong when i saw a small satellite dish with the wrd 'astro' on it.

yg said...

nah, buang (malay word for throw) and kok (chinese word for country). so, throw out of the country?
i think there was another malay name for the place. it is 'selak kain'.

nah said...

While folks living in rural areas live in close proximity to nature…there is room for pets, livestock, herbal plants and fruit trees, they are deprived of luxury and technology. Kampong lorong buangkok is a flood-prone area, and folks there have to tolerate the vicious mosquitoes.
This reminds me of an incident during one of my visits to a kampong at pulau ubin. While I was admiring this big bungalow, with a huge land area, planted with fruit trees, and livestock running around, the lady owner told me she would be happy if anyone is interested in exchanging a 3-room HDB flat for her house.

kiatsan said...

Please inform me if you know the answer to the mysterious bunker at Pearl's Hill City Park. Really hope there is some good news to it.

Btw, after reading your older blog posts and saw your photo posted, I realised I know who you are. Mr Ong. ha So coincidence. Ü I was a student at MHSS from 1994 to 1997.

Although you may not know me or taught me PE before, but I think I remembered you took over 1 PE session when my PE teacher is not free. ha

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