Tuesday, April 14, 2009

two newly renovated houses

at kg lorong buangkok

following a report in some overseas press , the new paper, on 14 jan 2009, ran a report about the government acquiring the land at kampong lorong buangkok, the last remaining village on the mainland. my blogger friend victor koo also urged us to visit the place before "it disappears in the name of progress and deveopment."

this is the report that appeared in some foreign press:

It is Singapore's secret Eden, a miniature village hidden in trees among the massed apartment blocks, where a fresh breeze rustles the coconut palms and tropical birds whoop and whistle. White butterflies flutter among the mango and star fruit trees, and tiny fish swim in a tiny stream. With just 28 houses in an area the size of three football fields, it is Singapore's last rural hamlet, a forgotten straggler in the rush to modernize this high-rise, high-tech city-state.

But apparently not for much longer. The village, called Kampong Buangkok, is slated by the government for demolition and redevelopment, possibly in the near future. When it is gone, one of the world's most extreme national makeovers will be complete.

Kampong is a local word for village, and also defines a traditional rural way of life that Singapore has left behind.

today, we took victor's advice and drove to gerald drive. from what we have seen and from talking to one of the house owners, it does not seem like the disappearance of the kampong will take place any time soon. the two newly renovated houses, facing each other, belonging to two sisters who are singaporeans, look incongruous in a place that is slated for redevelopment.

although most of the renovation materials were not brand new, they have spent a few tens of thousand on doing up the houses. when asked if the land was acquired, she told us that they had not heard anything about it. she explained that they did not own the land; it belongs to the landlord, who still lives in the same kampong.

in the true kampong spirit, she invited us in - total strangers to her - for a tour of the place. the upper floor will serve as a storeroom. the place has electricity, piped water and proper sanitation. the owner, who used to live in malaysia, likes the kampong way of life. of course, the very low rent is an attraction.

among the four of us who went to visit kampong lorong buangkok today, i was the one who felt most at home because i used to be a kampong boy.

i felt very much at home at kampong lorong buangkok, with its fruit trees, foot paths and long kang. it was the type of environment that i lived in for more than quarter of a century.


Victor said...

Thanks for showing a new side of Lorong Buangkok, YG - a side which most people never saw. I did catch the Chinese documentary Frontline recently on Ch 8 talking about some houseowners renovating their houses in the kampung.

Incidentally, do you know the toponymics of "Lorong Buang Kok". It literally means "the lane where you throw away (lose) your kok" (and maybe find some CB leaves).

yg said...

victor, your england too 'cheem' for me, lah. what is 'toponymics'?

Seen This Scene That said...

with these new buildings, looks like the kampong is undergoing upgrading. will it lose its authentic kampong charm if all the old houses start to disappear?

Andy said...

www.dictionary.com =)

Victor said...


yg said...

andy and victor, thks. now i have learnt a new word.

Victor said...

YG, you could learn more about the lighter side of Singapore's toponymics at this free public lecture.