|The city of Kuala Lumpur, with Kampung Baru in the foreground (bp.blogspot.com)|
Due to personal needs and other attracting factors, more and more youngsters from kampungs are migrating to the big Malaysian cities, like Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru or Penang. Some of them decided to settle down after finishing the tertiary level studies, while some of them are just hopping to the cities with or without any qualifications. It is all about exploring and adventuring into a new life in the concrete jungle.
For me, as an urban folk, raising and living up here in the Klang Valley has shaped me into what I am today. There are, indeed, pro's and con's points for living in here, of which have given endless possibilities and opportunities for most people.
I have never had any vivid kampung memory up until today. My kampung memory was only during the school break when I had chances to balik kampung of my mother's side in Melaka. My parents are from Melaka and they have migrated to Klang Valley since 27 years ago.
To my childhood understanding, living in kampung is a backward and outdated living. It was until I had chances of participating various activities on campus, I started to realise the essence of kampung living. It is laid back lifestyle with great environment experience that can never be found in the cities.
|A typical Malay kampung (upload.wikimedia.org)|
A typical Malay kampungs in Malaysia is a living area that largely shaped by the natural and surrounding factors that evolved gradually from a close-knit community upbringing. It is a far different from a FELDA settlement or Chinese new village.
A KAMPUNG WORLD OF ITS OWN
A kampung is like any other traditional dwellings around the world. A settlement area that is free of any commercial or money benefited purpose. It is a harmonious living where man blends with the nature seamlessly.
In Malaysia, besides Malay kampung, there are various traditional settlements that can be found. Such as, the Malay fishermen kampungs, Orang Asli (aborigines) kampungs, Dayak and Kadazan longhouse kampungs and kampung air (water village).
|An Orang Asli kampung in Cameron Highlands (bp.blogspot.com)|
|A Chinese new village (www.i-kgbaru.com)|
A common feature that can be traced on these kampungs is the housing or dwelling areas that shaped by the natural, social and economic and factors. Somehow, it is a reflection of the lifestyle of the people and their daily activities.
A PERFECT KAMPUNG
A kampung would normally located in the off skirt of towns or cities. It is quite rare to find a traditional town Malay kampung, unless it is a new resettlement area or the kampung itself was built prior to the town establishment, of which in this case, the kampung grows together with the town. A good example would be Kampung Baru in Kuala Lumpur or Kampung Morten in Melaka.
For most kampungs, normally it would be situated nearby the river. River is a great water body that is not only providing the raw water sources, but also the most important means of transportation that connects people to other areas. Perak River for instance, is the best example of how it helps the people to get connected from various areas in Perak. Until today, you can see many kampungs situated on the river banks including the royal town, Kuala Kangsar.
|A Malay kampung in Sarawak, Malaysia (trekearth.com)|
Besides river, a natural lake is an uncommon water body in Malaysia. I can hardly find any kampung nearby freshwater lake in Malaysia. However, the best example would be the traditional Cambodian village (also known as kampung) in Tonle Sap Lake, that connects to Mekong River.
A Malay kampung usually consists of several traditional houses that built on its on compound or land areas. In my previous post, I have discussed briefly on how a house was built according to local customs. The compound land marks the clear differences between a Malay kampung and Orang Asli kampung in Peninsular Malaysia.
For Orang Asli kampung, the absence of compound areas due to the nature of their lives previously. They lived temporarily and migrate to other areas after a certain period of time. And it is often located far off set than the Malay kampungs.
|A view of hilly kampung, inhabited by Orang Asli (bp.blogspot.com)|
Recently, I have had a short trip to Melaka to attend my cousin's engagement. En route to my kampung in Alor Gajah, up to my surprises, I have stumbled upon a few rice fields along the road. It was interesting to see few green rice fields, even though relatively small, but nicely fitted in between the kampung houses, shops and electrical cable towers, right in the state of Melaka!
Rice is among Malaysian crops that still being yielded commercially. As a part of Asia, rice is the most important sources of food for Malaysians. Rice has consumed on every morning, afternoon and evening at daily basis.
A kampung with rice field is among the places where you can find a spectacular scenic view in Malaysia. A wide yellow-greenish field, soothed with breezy wind, with the therapeutic sound of cooling water, flows across the field from the hills and mountains - gives the perfect backdrop for a Malay traditional house, which stands in the midst of these nature wonders.
|View of hilly paddy fields in kampung (upload.wikimedia.org)|
Naturally, the house is located in the middle of the field, whereas the rice field becomes the large compound area for the house. Sometimes, few houses are located together within the same compound area. The house is then connected to the main road or lane, which cuts across the field.
Besides rice field, as Malaysia is industrialising, other crops are introduced in the kampung. The most popular today would be the palm oil and rubber tree. Other crops, including pineapple, sugar cane, tapioca, banana and etc.
As an urbanite who never had any experience living in a kampung, it is such a great loss for me personally. Yeah, during my tertiary and even working life now, I met few people who hailed from kampung. As I listened to their stories, it was quite fascinated by how they spent their childhood times.
Playing with friends at riverbank, playing kites in paddy field, catching fish at pond and river and so on. These are things that might be alien to most of us. Something that can never be found and revived in our modern urban neighbourhood today.
|A vast and green scenery of a kampung paddy field (flickr.com)|
It is something that we can always watched and witnessed on the screen. Shows like Kampung Boy, Upin & Ipin are good shows that portrayed the lay back and traditional lifestyle. Well at least, it is being documented for our young and future generations to feel and experience (maybe not kinad first hand experience, but it's much better than none, isn't?).
SO, WHAT'S NEXT?
There is no definite answer on how the kampung would look alike in the near future. as the rapid urbanisation process happening in Malaysia, sooner or later, kampung will become extinct as what has happened in Singapore, the only city state in the Malay world that has no kampung!
It is true that urbanisation and modernisation can never be avoided. But somehow, there should be a place where a kampung is still preserved. Take a closer look on Kampung Baru, the only Malay kampung left in the city of Kuala Lumpur. From my point of view, Kampung Baru should left it as it is. However, there should be a legislative control of how it was developed, in terms of the housings, streets, public areas, landmarks and so on. A perfect kampung would be look like a miniature park like Mini Malaysia in Melaka, where traditional Malay house architecture is being preserved as it is.
|Wooden houses of Kampung Baru, with skyscrapers of Kuala Lumpur in the background (yimg.com)|
It would be such a hefty task to do so, but alternatively, a kampung would be a kampung not only because of the house design. But it is a natural culmination of how people, culture and nature blend together seamlessly.