Some Kind of Adventure (Part 2)

Hi everyone, so I have left off in the middle abruptly yesterday,.. so now I am continuing on where i had left off in my previous post.

Just a bit of recap, that Sunday morning I decided to take another route for my impromptu morning stroll, and I later ended up somewhere along Buangkok Park Connector.

So I was travelling down the path after a short break at the soul-less community club, and then I noticed that I was -somehow- crossing paths with that of the river, which will lead to the sea at Punggol Point. I couldn’t help but think of Boey Kim Cheng’s ‘By the Cauvery River’, in which the persona travels along the pulsing life of the river and he had a carefree stay with the natives as they immersed in the simplistic, rustic lifestyle along the way. Well, I guess mine is quite a bit of contrast… there’s some weird,polluted kind of, should I say monsoon drain??? There is no chanting in the twilight, no moonbeams beading pebbles what-so-ever, no native to guide me in making chapattis and brewing chai, and I am just facing this lifeless canal right smack in the middle of some man-made flora and fauna. But looking across the river somewhere at the connector near Tampines (now that’s really a river of sorts, rumored to be the haunts of crocodiles and mud-skippers) I see huge patches of undeveloped land at the other side, still covered with dense foliage, all the trees and the thick, velvety, menacing dark green over there. Maybe I should kayak there one day… Do they even allow people to go there? Erm fine I sidetracked a little.

So well here’s the highlight of my walk. For a moment I had a feeling I was getting closer to Yio Chu Kang Road, as I start to see those private housing estates that I used to pass by on my way to music school when I was still in elementary grade. The huge monsoon drain runs along beside the path, separating me and those huge majestic houses. And then I came upon this T-shaped Junction of sorts, on the left side of the path there is this small curious-looking, winding mud track leading to a clearing, and it was an opening into the last native village in the country, the Malays call it kampong.

So basically what a kampong looks like is that it consists of a cluster of households living together, with the village chief and his family, just like many other kinds of villages. In this particular village the members are largely Chinese and Malay families, and there is this distinct contrast in the way their traditional housing is modeled. So for a Chinese kampong house it is largely influenced by the traditional design of a traditional China Chinese house, with wooden planks nailed into walls and plastered with cement, cemented floors, a veranda for space for hanging laundry or parking bicycles and motorcycles or even cars, and maybe there will be space for people to sun cocoa seeds, nuts to make preserves. Normally the Chinese kampong houses will hang red banners at the top of their doors for luck and some of them will hang this huge tablet inscribing the family surname of their origins. Sometimes in older models there is a threshold at the entrance, so if you want to get into the house you have to cross the plank of wood at the door. Do not stand in the wooden threshold as it is very disrespectful to the owner of the house. As for Malay houses basically attap houses had been a favorite in those really traditional Malay villages I had visited in Malaysia, but in this village they have this more modern, low-lying concrete/wooden houses with a similar veranda and a backyard like the Chinese houses. And there is a little masjid in the middle of the village, which is the worship place for the Muslim inhabitants there.

So as I walked past a Chinese house there is this little plot of farmyard, with cages for chickens and zinc shelters for dogs, and there are skinny black roosters and hens running and flapping around, and there is this bamboo pole on which freshly laundered bed-sheets and towels were swaying to the morning breeze… love the thought of pressing a freshly sun-baked hot white fluffy towel to my face. And the cooking was singing loud and clear from underneath the zinc roof… many households in the kampong love to situate their kitchen alfresco… saves all the trouble of mopping oily floors after cooking, which is the main disadvantage of indoor kitchens… And I smell eggs and curry and basil leaves… or maybe a tinge of banana cake? Banana fritters perhaps. I could imagine the hot sweetness of banana-ish caramel melting in my mouth as my teeth sink into the crisp of fritters… Mmmm… I shall move on.

Crossing the little bridge I spotted some familiar plants… coconut trees, this bush og big, bright yellow flowers, and guavas and jackfruit and whatnot.

So in all this entire landscape looks kind of weird… with this rural-ish dwelling right in the midst of a metropolitan setting… the big busy road at the opposite, the rows of concrete grey just right beside it, their claws slowly sinking into the last bit of the keepsake of the nostalgic yesteryear, which is quite sad at retrospect.

Finally as I emerge from this little kampong, I ended my weird little adventure. Perhaps I might try exploring other areas and show you guys next time. Promise yeah.



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