Sunday, July 29, 2012

London Olympics 2012… Day 1

Made a trip downtown on the first day of the London Olympic. I was expecting a packed train and congested road but surprisingly, traffic were extremely smooth with good working train services. Volunteer ushers and the Met policemen were all over the city directing the crowd. I was at the 250km Men's Road Race and there was a carnival liked atmosphere. In a competition of speed and distance, the wait for the cyclists can be rather dull with spilt second of excitement when they finally arrived at the 1km mark where i was positioned. The atmosphere is electrifying and I must say London has done well on day 1 of the Olympic 2012.

A little taste of the British humor right at the end of the race…

Friday, July 27, 2012

Singapore's Secret Eden...

The last time i was back in Singapore, I was utterly astounded by how fast things have changed at home. It is barely a year and already buildings and roads are looking different. Construction can be seen at every corner of the country. Our favorite hunt, the Blk 85 market in Bedok and the Changi hawker centre were both closed for renovation. Even my flat in Tampines is undergoing multiple upgrading work. These changes can be rather annoying with all the inconvenience and for the case of the hawker centre, the anticipating price hike and the fact that, we all know the food is not going to "taste" as good as before.

Everything is up for redevelopment in Singapore and don't get me wrong, I understand the needs to strive for the best in this fast paced metropolitan city. However, I wonder if such relentless pursue for progression will unknowingly cost us our physical history and heritage?

I mentioned in my last blog post about our nation latest billion-dollar project, Garden by the Bay. Although the "garden" does look impressive and magnificent in many ways, it just felt so emotionally empty. It is one of those tourist attractions that will go passé in no time. Nonetheless, we should be grateful that such premium space is not used for one of those skyscraper or high end residential condo that most Singaporean could not afford.

That same week after my visit to the Garden by the Bay, I decided to drop by one of Singapore best kept secret, Kampong Buangkok. Kampong is local word for village and also define a traditional rural way of life that Singapore left behind. The existence of this kampong in 21st century Singapore is rather amazing. Even till today not many locals are aware of this place.

Flanked by high rise flats and landed properties, the kampong is located along a relatively secluded road of Lorong Buangkok. Houses in the kampong are still made of wood and zinc rooftop. Cables run above ground and a dirt road runs through the small village- a rare sight in modern day Singapore. The atmosphere is surreal with the birds chirping and rooster crowing without a hint that it was located right beside a motorway. Here, time seems to stand still, an experience that no one can imagine its existing in the urban city of Singapore.

Using sound and images, I hope to document and preserve the kampong experience and at the same time, create an awareness of its existence and most importantly the desperate need to preserve this hidden treasure of our history and heritage. 

This is Singapore’s secret Eden, the Last Kampong of Singapore.

Below are the still images from the Last Kampong of Singapore.
Hidden by the surrounding trees, this is the only sight of the kampong from a nearby HDB flat.
Overhead cables that run throughout the kampong. A rare sight in modern day Singapore. 
Homemade swing found at the entrance of the kampong. Life seems to be simpler right from the beginning.
Hand written sign that point toward the village's main entrance.
4 digit postal code from the early years of Singapore. Time seems to standstill in the kampong.
Landowner and resident of the kampong, Mdm Sng Mui Hong, hope that the Government could preserve this last kampong of Singapore for our future generation.
Kampong residents Mdm Kamsinah (left) and Mdm Habsah (right) have been living in the kampong for most of their life.  
Surrounded by the pristine greenery, many of its residents are able to plant their own produces. 
The backyard of a kampong house. There is no fences or gate and visitors are free to roam throughout the village.
The village mosque (left) is located at the centre of the kampong.
A typical kampong house made of wood and zinc roof. Most of it residents pay a monthly rental fee to landlady, Mdm Sng. The rental fee has reminded unchanged since the 70s, costing less than a fancy meal in a restaurant.
An outdoor kitchen at the back of a house.
Most of the kampong residents are friendly and hospitable. However, if you are planning to pay a visit,  kindly respect their privacy and always ask for permission before taking their photos. Please preserve the tranquility and pristine state of the kampong.

Monday, July 16, 2012

"Not so" Garden by the Bay...

Garden by the Bay is the latest attraction in Singapore. A much hyped billion dollars garden that even got my friend asking about it from Italy. I decided to check out the place over the weekend and sad to say, it is anything but a garden by the bay. One of its main attraction the Supertree Grove reminds me of scene from the Avatar movie. The whole place is a rather creepy reminder of what mankind could do to mother nature.

Although it does provide an amazing futuristic backdrop to our cityscape, i still prefer the old Marina South with its huge empty field for flying kite, the $10 "All You Can Eat" BBQ buffet and the breakwater right by the sea.

I am not resisting change but in my opinion, the Garden by the Bay seem to be a good example of a bad modern day urbanization project. A rat race of such rapid transformation would soon cost us our heritage and history.

Overall, I must admit the garden landscape and lighting look really good on photos. Looking at the number of shutterbugs and tourists that have already descended on the location, it may soon become the most shot destination in Singapore. Hopefully it is all worth it.