The End of the Line 2: Kampung Life
The second of a four-part series that takes you along Singapore’s Jurong railway line
Over the years, several enclaves developed by the side of the Jurong Line, part of the KTM Malayan Railway Network. These enclaves, termed as kampung (‘village’ in the Malay language) consist of small plantations, temples and sometimes makeshift houses.
It seems, however, that no one actually lives in these kampungs. They are instead ‘owned’ and maintained by the residents who live in the neighbouring blocks.
In perpetually-developing Singapore, it is inevitable that old things and places will give way to the new. Yet, I’m fairly certain that these kampung were very likely only ‘built’ after the train tracks were abandoned, meaning that they are each less than 20 years old. In light of the fact that most kampung in Singapore were eradicated some 40 odd years ago, these little bits of village life almost appear like an anachronism, inconsistent with today’s Singapore.
Here’s a quick look into the four kampung along the Jurong Line:
We entered from Penjuru Road and came to this kampung of sorts near Teban Gardens Estate. There was not a single person there when we explored the area – only a small plantation area, an altar, many bicycles, and some ‘Gods’ that welcomed us when we entered the area. There was, however, also an actual bed, hidden somewhat in the bushes, perhaps offering a sign that someone actually did live there. Or perhaps the bed was just there for the ‘villagers’ to take an afternoon nap.
Walking further down along the tracks, we came to the second kampung. Graffiti lined the walls of the area under the bridge next to this kampung. Or perhaps, this area under the bridge served as part of the kampung. Papaya trees were aplenty. A lady was busy at work in the plantation.
I’m not quite sure whether this kampung constitutes part of the Kampung Sungai Pandan as it sits nearer to the Commonwealth Avenue West flyover than it does to the Clementi Avenue Six flyover, where the latter is located. There was a film crew there when we visited. Other than that, there was one elderly woman, busy trimming the plants.
The most developed and most ‘famous’ of the four kampung we saw, Kampung Sungai Pandan was full of activity. Middle-aged and elderly men were sitting around having a morning tea and chat, while some others were sweeping the grounds and taking care of the plants. The area was so well-developed there were actual tiles that lined the ground, a few tentages and a toilet.
You can read a good article on Kampung Sungai Pandan here.
And that ends my little visit to village life.
If anyone knows the names of the other three kampung, please let me know.
This is the second of a four-part series (see Related Stories below). The series was first published on February 22, 2011, on Wanderfolly.