Visiting Singapore’s last mainland kampung
The first time I heard about Singapore’s last remaining kampung on mainland was soon after I arrived in Singapore.
I quickly learned that this unique place, Kampung Lorong Buangkok, was threatened in it’s existence and that I’d better visit it sooner than later.
And indeed, I planned several times to visit this place with a friend, but each time something came up. Or it started pouring rain, or the friend had to cancel on me and so on.
Long story short; it took me 8 years to finally come to explore Kampung Buangkok!
And when I did, a month ago, I immediately went there twice in one week!
First I went there with a dutch friend as part of a walk we did together.
And the week after, my Dutch walking group happened to have scheduled almost the same walk.
Catching a glimpse of the past at Kampung Lorong Buangkok
In 1956 a Chinese Singaporean bought this piece of swampy land, the size of three football fields, and rented it out to Chinese and Malay families.
At it’s peak, this kampung on private land was 40 families large. At the moment there are only 26 families left.
Most of the people are elderly and some already live there since 50 years.
The daughter of the man who once bought the land is now the landlord. She is the one who nowadays collects the monthly rents, ranging from SGD 6,50 tot SGD 30 per month. Can you believe those prices?! In Singapore?!
Being the last surviving kampung in Singapore (on mainland that is), this place gets a lot of visitors, mainly in the afternoons.
People like myself, who want to catch a glimpse of the past at Kampung Lorong Buangkok before it’s gone.
Discretion is advised, by the way, when visiting this small, intimate area. Visitors are not welcome in the evenings, and the residents ask to respect their privacy.
Simple living between lots of greenery
The houses are clearly very basic and not all are in good condition. They look very charming though.
People in the kampung do a lot of gardening, keep plants and grow fruits.
There are cats, chickens and roosters roaming around and someone keeps songbirds in cages.
It’s a small community in which the residents are close to one another, like a mini village.
One of the houses is turned into a prayer house and we saw this cute outdoor ‘altar’ like you see everywhere in Singapore
Will it survive?
The plot of land is still enveloped by lots of greenery, but civilisation and modernisation are closing in.
There is a construction site right next door and the kampung has to make way for a major road and two schools.
But there are voices asking to preserve this site. Turning it into a conservation site or something educational, so that it can stay.
Will these voices be heard??
Time will tell.
Pretty soon, I guess, because that road and those schools are urgently waiting for the kampung to make way.
This article from the Straits Times talks about that. It is really interesting to read and also contains a small video from Singapore’s last kampung.
I really hope that this special place can be preserved. In the first place for it’s residents, of course. But secondly also because it’s one of the last remaining snippets of the Singapore of say 50 years ago.
So fingers crossed!