Myth: Singapore has no culture
Not at: Kampong Lorong Buangkok
There was a time when Singapore was criss-crossed with rustic villages known as kampongs. But if you think the country is now exclusively made up of skyscrapers, think again.
Kampong Lorong Buangkok proudly remains as Singapore’s last mainland kampong. Though it has shrunk in size, dozens of families still proudly live here, sleeping under zinc roofs and walking on earthen tracks. The pace of life is slower here, and if you listen to the chirp of crickets and crow of roosters, you can almost feel like you’re stepping back in time to 1956, when the kampong was built.
While villages provide a dose of rustic heaven, there are also celebrations here that are just as otherworldly. Take the Hungry Ghost Festival, a yearly celebration held by the Chinese community. During this period, it is believed that spirits roam the earth, appeased only by offerings made by us mortals.
Hence you can hardly walk by any street corner without finding it blossoming with smoke. Locals burn incense and paper money (emblazoned with the words “from the bank of hell” in Chinese characters) as offerings. You may see people carefully modifying their behaviour, too. Nary a whistle is heard (it’s thought to attract ghosts), nobody picks up shiny objects on the ground (it might be an offering meant for a spirit) and people make sure not to turn their heads (this can knock off protective flames thought to sit on your shoulders).