Ever went for holiday staying in wooden houses without proper plumbing system and eating home cooked food? I tried that simple kampong living for 2 days 1 night 10 years ago on 10th June 2002.
It was a retreat organized by our agency leader then when I was working as a Financial Advisor (or Insurance Agent, an old term that is more familiar with lots of people). It is still deep in my memory because at that time, at the age of 34, that was my third trip out of Singapore and my very first holiday overseas! In today's standard, I likely to be labeled as an under-exposed "child" having only ate MacDonald’s when I collected my GCE "O" Level result, with my first trip out of Singapore to Johor Bahru at age 23 while serving my National Service, fly to Bangkok at age 30 and had my first overseas holiday at age 34.
Ops! I am out of topic as usual again. Blame it on my age, not me for being long-winded. ;P
The journey started from World Trade Centre (yes, the old Harbourfront) boarding the boat to Kukup. Just, I say just in case your geography knowledge is as good as mine then, Kukup is part of Malaysia and not Indonesia as I had earlier thought so.
After having waited for another 30 minutes, they finally open the gate for us to board the boat. I really cannot understand how the ferry terminal operates, really. While the screen keeps flashing "Boarding Now", we were made to "Gong Gong" (stupidly) stands outside the gate for half an hour.
The journey on board the boat is as “interesting” as the experience at the gate. After boarding the boat, we rushed to the basement section of the boat thinking to have a cozy environment. We regretted later. Not only was it very squeeze with poor air conditioning, the poor natural lightings through a row of 20cm tall windows at the top of the cabin make us feel like illegal immigrates. 30 minutes through the journey, someone started humming the song “Wu Zuo Nan Yang”, an old SBC local drama series talking about China’s refugees’ life in the old Singapore. To make matter worst, one person started to vomit in the cabin! Eeeeeeek!!! Looking around, everybody tried very hard to lock their senses for the “ENTERTAINING” Smell, Sounds and Sight. Have you tried that?
Kukup is a Ke-Long style “kampong” (village) where the houses were built above the “SEA”. It's really scary as there were no proper plumbing systems, with all the stuff you release while visiting the toilet goes directly into the sea below. The contribution was so enriching that the surrounding sea were marked with a nice brownish colour. Not bad for a change to see that ocean need not always be blue. How I hope I know this logic earlier so that I can challenge my primary school teacher about it. Hee...
I got very worried as I might not be able to survive the 2 days 1 night holiday. Luckily our resort was still very clean and proper. Well, the fact that you still contribute to the ocean when you visit the toilet remains. We were even joking about how nice it would be if the “MUD” below change into clear white sand and the brownish water change into crystal clear sea water. It will be so relaxing that we can just jump off from our resort to enjoy a good swim. Now, err.... die die also hold tightly to the railings, not wanting to fall and have a very good "MUD" bath. Haha…
By the way, the journey to our resort was equally scary. All houses in those areas were joined using 1m wide timber platform. While most had changed into concrete platform, there were no railings on either sides of the platform. Imagine again if you accidental fell into the... Ops, here I go again. Can you feel how disturbed I am?
The only thing good about this trip is EAT! Yes!!! We eat and Eat and EAT.
Upon reaching at around 4:30pm, we ate a simple meal at the restaurant, and then we had BBQ seafood (cooked and served) around 8pm. The next morning when we wake up, breakfast was served and followed by tea-break at 10am again. The last meal was at the restaurant before we board the boat back to Singapore. I had totally enjoyed myself eating those home cooked meals with kampong taste!
What I really enjoyed most is the “kampong” (village) lifestyle and spirit they have at Kukup. Everybody seems to be taking things easily and they are so close to each other. There were no computers, internet connections, and none were seen with eyes glued to their television for drama series or stocks information. Thinking about it now, the environment really suits people with intellectual disability where the core contribution for all individuals is hard work and not intelligence. Bringing people together and not isolate people with intellectual disability. Walking around the place during the 2 days, I observed that most people left their doors opened regardless whether it’s day or night, and whether they are in or out of their house. This kampong spirit can hardly be seen in Singapore now.
I wondering if Kukup is still the same after 10 years.