By: Nessa Anwar
InstaScram revs it up old-school this episode by riding to two places of time immemorial, with both visual and nostalgic treats in an increasingly urbanised Singapore.
We ride the Triumph Street Twin to Kampung Lorong Buangkok, the last-standing, true kampung in Singapore that dates back to 1956.
Before 1956, in old Singapura, this area was a swampy marshland. A traditional Chinese medicine seller named, Sng Yeow Koon, bought the land and rented out pockets of it for residents to build their home. This resulted in a unique, multi-racial village that was named Kampung ‘Selak Kain’, which when translated from Malay means, ‘to pull-up one’s skirt or sarong’, due to frequent flooding caused by heavy rains in this area of low-lying land.
Today, the kampung is called ‘Kampung Lorong Buangkok’, located along Gerald Drive, off Yio Chu Kang Road. It is a delightful look into genuine kampung living, with about 28 households still living in the quaint, rustic homes.
The land is now managed by Mdm Sng Mui Hong, the daughter of Mr Sng, whose siblings have all moved out of the kampung since. Residents in the area live in peace and tranquility, including some old enough to remember Singapore during the racial riots. Read more here in this interview with a resident.
Amidst the roaming kampung cats, dogs and even chickens, egrets and herons could even be spotted in the area. A canal running through the kampung - which leads to Sungei Punggol - also has remnants of children’s play, with slippers being left behind, indicating some carefree living. The canal was built in 1970 in an effort to minimise the flooding that constantly occurred in the kampung during heavy rain.
However, there have been rumours of this last remaining kampung being slated for redevelopment. Slowly, but surely, a few things have changed over the years. A jogging track, which links to Sengkang Riverside Park, has been built behind the kampung. Even a few residents are renovating their houses to replace the traditional zinc and attap with stronger materials. These new improvements might pave the way for further progression, so if you wish to experience true kampung-styled living, visit Kampung Lorong Buangkok before it is too late.
Do ensure that you tread with respect. Residents still live in the area, and they may not appreciate strangers traipsing within their property. However, they are friendly bunch, so do remember to say ‘hi’!
For those of you who are purveyors of all things old, this next location has something for you as well.
We ride next to Junkie’s Corner, an enormous warehouse frozen in time, packed to the brim with antiques and forgotten relics. At first glance from along the side of the road, many items look random and worthless. But for this team of city folk, it was a refreshing glimpse into the past.
Situated beside the undergrowth of the decommissioned Bukit Timah Turf Club, you can find a repository of heirlooms of antique appeal tucked away along Turf Club Road. Driving by, not knowing what to expect, may cause you to miss Junkie’s Corner. But, once you lay your eyes on the rows of timeless treasures, you will be hard pressed to drive by without making a stop.
The warehouse building, with all its grime and nostalgic charm, has high ceilings and an expanse of space, which the caretaker, known affectionately as Uncle Charlie, has used to a great effect. Trinkets and antiquities of all different shapes and sizes are lined up, stacked up and even leaned against each other. This whole area along Turf Club Road used to be contained within Bukit Timah Turf Club, which operated publicly during the 1960s all the way until 1999, but the grounds had been around since 1933.
This particular building housing Junkie’s Corner was most probably used to store horse feed, or even the horses themselves, during that tenure. The owner moved his antique business here from King George’s Avenue, in 2013.
If you are looking to explore the hodgepodge of knick-knacks for an old-school decorative piece for your home, be mindful that purchasing these items can be very different experience when compared to conventional shopping. And even if you’re not a fan of bargaining for thrift shop items, a trip down to Junkie’s Corner is great way to spend a couple hours, sifting through the treasure trove and experiencing its musty smells.
And if you’re feeling peckish after your antique picking, Junkie’s Corner is located down the road from The Grandstand, a one-stop destination for food - including the very popular Pasarbella - family activities and even a place to watch some weekend rugby matches!