Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bathing - the rural way

Bathing - the rural way
Changi kampong

Have you ever wondered how people bathed in the kampong? Here is a picture taken in the Fifties at Changi and it provides the answer. Bathing in the rural area varies from country to country. Of course, you cannot expect running water or the private bath. More often than not, you have to bathe in the open. At least, in Singapore, you won't be bathing in the cold air and get a chill.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Two Kampong Girls

Two Kampong Girls

Occasionally, they get stared at in the Kampongs. But kampong girls are natural and they exude a sense of freedom, innocence and purity, typical of God's little children.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A kampong house - Circa 1960s

"Home is where the heart is"
A kampong house
(Andrew Yip)
Just a thatched hut by the stream,
But it stays long in my lingering dream.
A kampong house that gazed upon the sea,
Obscured by blossoms and bushes under a tree.
Along the old Changi beach at night,
I strolled in solitude with silent feet,
And saw new houses, flashing in floodlight,
Mock a lost kampong on a dim and dusty street.
And men will dream, and dream and forever dream,
Of the carefree kampong and its old-time grace.
Some grew weary, watching the towering city gleam,
Seek the kampong magic in the old kampong place.

The beast of burden in the kampongs

Don't for a moment think that bullock carts were only used to carry bins filled with water. The bullocks were used as beasts of burden, and performed many functions. The picture shows a bullock cart used to transport timber to the factories or sawmills. Indians used some bullocks to do grass cutting.

In the old days, boys and girls watched the bullocks

The Bullock Cart - circa 1940s
Remember the old folks in the kampong. They used the bullock carts to carry heavy things. But strangely enough, bullock carts were also used in the old days to transport water around Chinatown. Most of the bullock carts were stationed along Kreta Ayer Road, hence its Malay name. Chinatown in Singapore was also referred to as "bullock carts carrying water." Indian convicts brought into Singapore to do hard labour in 1825 were given bullocks as incentives for good behaviour, upon the completion of their penal sentence in Singapore.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Picture - A good day for drying by Yip Cheong Fun

Another fishing kampong scene in the east coast of Singapore in 1940, showing the drying of fishes with a background of coconut trees. This looks like three-dimensional. The composition and layout are superb. Fishing kampong settlements like these no longer exist is Singapore.

This is a tyical fishing scene at Changi, the east coast of Singapore. It is nostalgic. True, the beach and sea and the boats are still there, but the attap huts, the way the fishing folks wore and work, the smell of fishes in the air - they have all gone with the passage of time. The pictue is unique in its composition and form. It is almost three dimensional, and well balanced in layout. More remarkable is the crescent-shaped formation of the fishing folks hauling up the fishing nets and re-arranging them. The shadows and lights and the texture of the sand also make this an unusual picture. The dark sky matches the mood and atmosphere of the scene showing the setting sun and the fishing folks, particularly women at work in a communal setting.

Here is some poetry:

The Long Net at Changi Beach

A strange vision unfolded; unfazed I gazed
A beach flanked by a long fishing net in the haze.
Dark silhouettes and shadows formed a crescent band.
Figures, forms and fishing nets fused in the sand.

I heard voices and echoes of the long net in motion.
I could smell the scent of fish and feel the commotion.
Those fishing folks with hats and attire quaint -
Could this be a dream? And then a voice. Oh, I faint !

"Gently haul the long net; it's old and frail.
Cast the net again - we mustn't fail.
While white clouds caress the clear blue sky,
And fishes fill the sea, give it then another try."

(Poem: Andrew Yip, M.Ed)