Tucked away in a little corner of Eastern Singapore, near a highway and some HDB condos, stands Singapore’s last village – Kampong Lorong Buangkok. Hundreds of these clusters of small houses used to dot Singapore in the 1950s and 1960s, but since the country’s big developmental facelift, their numbers have been rapidly dwindling, until now there’s only one left.
Back in 2009, news of this lone village’s demise started to spread, to as far as New York (well, the New York Times to be exact). It was reported that the land had been “slated by the government demolition and redevelopment” . Now, two years has passed and the village remains – but no one knows for how long.
So before this last rustic village is no more, I decided to pay it a visit. Truth be told, I also wanted to see for myself what a traditional Singaporean “village” looks like. Turns out it looks like a quiet rustic nook. With dirt roads, rusty post boxes, fruit trees and the sound of some neighbor’s TV drifting into the air, the area, which houses 28 families, feels like a place you would find in rural Malaysia or Indonesia. There were also some surreal spots here and there – a carpet laid down in the middle of the road, a wicker swing hanging from a branch, a Buddha statue sitting under a tree…
With only a handful of houses, you could walk around the whole place in about 15 minutes. But once in a while, I think it is fun to imagine what Singapore was like in 1954 (the year this village was built). People here pay between $6.50 to $30 (!) a month for rent, keep their doors open when they are home, don’t use air conditioning and have their mail delivered once a day by a postman on a motorcycle. It is hard to imagine that these few inhabitants, with their wicker swings and their sitting Buddha, are sitting on a pot of gold”¦ land that is worth an estimated 33 million dollars. With that much in value riding on this village, you’ve got to wonder how much nostalgia is worth.
Kampong Lorong Buangkok
Most taxi drivers will not know how to get to the Kampong
Best is to find St. Vincent De Paul Church on Yio Chu Kang Road. Cross the road to the petrol station, go down the stairs and cross the bridge. The village should be on your left.