Saturday, October 10, 2015

Lost Roads and Heritage: Lorong Buangkok and Kampong Buangkok

I've read many personal accounts, blogposts and seen YouTube videos about Singapore's last mainland kampong, Kampong Lorong Buangkok. But no one has ever taken note of the namesake road.

Background

70s era Lorong Buangkok street sign


Lorong Buangkok dipicted in 1981 maps.
As with many other old rural roads in the 50s and 60s, Lorong Buangkok (Sometimes also spelt as "Lorong Buang Kok") used to be a long windy road starting from Yio Chu Kang Road and ending at Punggol Road. The road was named "Buang Kok", meaning "united" in Hokkien by the settlers after the rubber plantation in the area. In the 70s and 80s,

Lor Buangkok, Lor Sengkang and Jln Seranggong Kechil Today


2015 Singapore map superimposed with the former 1981 map of Lorong Buangkok.

Today, the namesake road of Lorong Buangkok has been used to name the area between Hougang and Sengkang. "Buangkok Green" has taken over the role of being the main arterial road for the Buangkok area. "Lorong Sengkang", a short track where Sengkang got its name from is today long gone and "Jalan Seranggong Kechil", the Hokkien and actual pronunciation of "Serangoon" has been merged into "Sengkang East Way". The majority of roads in Sengkang and Buangkok today bare no unique Malay toponyms, and instead uses common English inspired names and suffixes.

Lorong Buangkok, at the end Yio Chu Kang end.
Lorong Buangkok still exists, but has already split into two sections. One off Yio Chu Kang Road off Gerald Drive (Spelt as "Lorong Buangkok") and the other at Punggol Road (Spelt as "Lorong Buang Kok"), the start and ending point respectively. The section off Punggol Road serves as an address for the private properties there while the section at Yio Chu Kang Road serves as an access point into the kampong.

By 2014, Buangkok Crescent has further cut the section of Lorong Buangkok at Yio Chu Kang Road, resulting in a much more shorter lane. HDB developments have also been closing into the kampong, literally and indirectly telling the villagers that "we're coming and we want you to move out!"


Lorong Buang Kok, Punggol Road End

The Punggol Road end is spelt as "Lorong Buang Kok"
The section of Lorong Buang Kok at Punggol Road today houses several landed properties. It can be accessed from Jalan Merdu, off Sengkang East Way.
Lorong Buang Kok as viewed from Jalan Merdu.
Today, a part of Sengkang East Way runs alongside Lorong Buangkok. Back then the road was probably longer than it was as upon reaching Punggol Road junction, Jalan Seranggong Kechil (Now part of Sengkang East Way)

70s era architecture being observed on private housing at Lorong Buang Kok
One of the houses bare the former 4 digit postal code.
The houses on Jalan Merdu and Lorong Buang Kok seems to have 70s era designs. Many survived for being renovated and upgraded. This is the remaining part of Sengkang or Punggol Rural Area as it used to be known back then, seemed to be untouched when the surrounding Sengkang Town was built.
The end of Lorong Buang Kok
The end of Lorong Buang Kok would have merged into Punggol Road junction and continued on into Jalan Seranggong Kechil. Today, it's a dead end. A blue building that looked to be an old 70's era shophouse. It would certainly make sense as during it's heyday during the 70's it was a very busy area, and this shop is probably one of the few facilities to serve the rural area as there was none back in the day.
Lor Buang Kok shophouse
Lor Buang Kok shophouse
The former Punggol Road. Parallel to the right is the realigned road to serve the heavy traffic of today. 

Lorong Sengkang


Lorong Sengkang was a track off Lorong Buang Kok that the town of Sengkang took after. It became obsolete and expunged during the 1990s when Kampong Sungei Tengah was demolished.
Sengkang East Way, where Lorong Sengkang could have been.

Jalan Seranggong Kechil

Jalan Seranggong Kechil was a small lane off Punggol Road. Today the road has been absorbed into Sengkang East Way. The origins of the name is from the actual Hokkien pronunciation of the word "Serangoon" which in turn was derived from a small bird known in Malay as Burong Ranggong.
Part of Sengkang East Way was formerly known as Jalan Seranggong Kechil
Start of Jalan Seranggong Kechil from St Anne's Church
St Anne's Church, one of the few building to survive while Sengkang was built
Private properties along Sengkang East Way
Junction of Sengkang East Way and Rivervale Crescent. Where Jalan Seranggong Kechil ends

Lorong Buangkok, Gerald Drive End.

Access into Lorong Buangkok is through Gerald Drive, off Yio Chu Kang Road. This is the only access road into the kampong. The road today is much shorter today than in previous years due to the construction of Buangkok Drive and a HDB estate nearby.


It is also interesting to note that Gerald Drive was previously known as Jalan Woodbridge before being renamed in 1998. The name "woodbridge" comes for an actual wooden bridge in the area. Private property developers have made an effort to the government to rename the road to avoid any association with Woodbridge Hospital, the old mental hospital, which has been moved to nearby Buangkok Green and renamed to "Institute of Mental Health"

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The reason for the name "Gerald Drive" was due to its vicinity of Gerald Crescent and Gerald Park. The names of these two road were in turn named after Gerald Hawkins, a civil servant who was a member of the rural board.

Kampong Lorong Buangkok


Me and fiancee had a chance to explore the last remaining kampong in mainland Singapore. As you enter, the place really seems to be at a standstill. We were instantly transported to the 60s, reminiscing the P. Ramlee movies with kampong settings. We could hear chickens crowing, the peace, quiet and tranquility, apeks speaking Hokkien loudly in their houses, zinc roofs, wooden walls of the individual properties, the unpaved roads, the rustic unorganized arrangement of housing and fencing and a surau really adds to the authenticity of kampong life and environment.


Kampong Lorong Buangkok
An old kampong style bridge.
A typical kampong house in Kg Lorong Buangkok
One of the yards in a private property.
Fiancee on the open plain of Kampong Lorong Buangkok
Kampong Lorong Buangkok
Kampong Lorong Buangkok
Surau Al Firdaus, Kampong Lorong Buangkok
Kampong Lorong Buangkok, villagers interacting with each other
Kampong Lorong Buangkok
Fiancee and the 70s era "Lorong Buangkok" sign
Us interacting with some of the villagers. One makcik behind me cannot see!!
We had a chance to interact with the villagers who are approachable and friendly, a Malay family and another Indian man who was just visiting like us. We stopped to chat and they asked about our personal lives. The makcik's pet cat was so attached to her, playing and running around happily. It was an exhilarating experience and really adds to the fact that kampong dwellers are much more happier, friendly and more well off in a sense that they are not too concern with materialism but embrace with the simplicity of life instead.

Me and Fiancee are fortunate and thankful for this experience and opportunity and you can be sure we will be back.


Google Streetview of Lorong Buangkok 2009 (Yio Chu Kang Road section)


As Google Streetview hasn't updated their images, maps still show Lorong Buangkok in its state during October 2009, when Buangkok Crescent hasn't been built. Instead, Buangkok Link is the access road.

From the access road at Buangkok Link, Oct 2009
Lorong Buangkok Oct 2009
Lorong Buangkok Oct 2009
Lorong Buangkok Oct 2009
Lorong Buangkok Oct 2009
Lorong Buangkok Oct 2009
Lorong Buangkok Oct 2009

The Demise of Lorong Buangkok


By 1998, Sengkang new town was build. A large chunk of Lorong Buangkok became expunged , ending at the junction of Anchorvale Lane and Sengkang East Avenue. Soon, Jalan Seranggong Kechil will be renamed and merged with Sengkang East Way.


Parts of maps depicting the newly build Sengkang Town and Lor Buangkok's demise.

Conclusion

The namesake road that the area of Buangkok is named after and Singapore's last mainland kampong must be preserved. At least future generations will know the humble beginnings of Buangkok and where then name came from. The kampong itself should be spared from development and it's villages be allowed to continue living there. Buangkok Crescent HDB estate may be closing in into the kampong grounds, but there is no substitution and replacement as kampong life and spirit cannot flourish in high rise concrete apartment blocks. And the rustic scenery, the feelings of nostalgia, where nature and traditional wooden houses live in harmony, there is no where else in mainland Singapore where you can find a place like this.

As the old saying goes, some things are best better left alone.



Credits:
Wikipedia Link of Buangkok
Google Maps
Singapore Street Names, A Study of Toponymics - ISBN 981-210-205-1

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