Wednesday, 25 June 2014

REVISIT: Kampong Buangkok - feeling sad.

The unstoppable march of the modern world


Today we took a friend and her son to visit "The last Kampong in Singapore". Since I last visited, less than 3 months ago, so many people have asked to me to take them there, but I have been reticent. If you have read my previous post you will know my strong feelings that this is most definitely NOT a tourist attraction, but a place of peace and tranquillity, people homes and havens. However with just 4 quiet people we decided to do so again. To be honest I am a little sorry I returned.

I was aware construction was due to take place close by but the shock at how close it truly was, hit me like one of those pile driving machines.


It was immediately obvious before we even turned into the kampong, just across from the entrance, behind where the children's homemade swings sat hanging from an ancient tree, and next to the remaining gates of the old leper hospital, that things had changed. The land was cleared and excavated, deep footings scarred the ground for a large road which seems to be heading straight for the swings and the kampong, hopefully it will divert onto the small lane that is currently there.


Before
Now

Now I don't know how the inhabitants feel or if any have moved, it could just be me but somehow the feeling of the village had changed, some of the homes looked empty, although to be honest when closed up its difficult to tell. The village seemed quieter than usual, no dogs barking although plenty of friendly cats and the chickens and parrots were still there. The feeling of calm was still there but, as we wandered around there was no longer any way you could ignore the outside world. Where once there was scrub land, full of trees, flowers and wildlife now we were greeted just feet from these homes, with the all to familiar dark green corrugated metal fencing that surrounds modern day Singapore, construction and more construction. Over the fencing as far as you could see the scrub land had been cleared, branches, trunks and vegetation laid piled up in mountains. We walked to the end of the lane and the large garden that was immaculately swept and tended last visit had disappeared, with just a thin step left next to the building. Where once the inhabitants looked out onto bananas, cocoa trees and listened to the bird song and insects, the peaceful quiet seemed slightly ominous, dead.


Before
Now
Before
Now
Before
Now
Before
Now

As we left the homes closer to the park connector had had some work done on them, mostly new corrugated roofs. But I leave wondering how long this place will really remain. OK they have not knocked the homes down to build on but they couldn't of got much closer. What a terrible shame, sometimes its better to remember how things were than to revisit and realise the new truth.

If you would like to read my post on my visit from April you can find it here. singaporetales.co.uk/2014/04/kampong-buangkok.html