Syazwani Hj Rosli
There are many areas in life that require an appreciation for aesthetics. For one senior citizen, such an appreciation can be seen from a hobby of decorating his home with vibrant detailing, which has led to visits by more than 2,000 tourists from all around the world.
Among the thousands of wooden homes in Kampong Ayer, 69-year-old Ahmad bin Haji Timbang’s house really makes a statement and stands out from the rest. His outdoor porch, when looked at from afar, brings a burst of colourful fun to Kampong Ayer.
The bridge leading towards his house is simply breathtaking, with every passerby greeted by the house’s vibrant paint-job and colourful decorations. There are tons of interesting fun elements to enhance the look of the house, such as hundreds of plastic fishing float balls and recycled bottles that he hung on his front porch, painted in an array of different colours. The home’s fancy outdoor space is intriguing, with bright colours and bold patterns bringing about curiosity to know more about the owner’s character and personality.
In an interview with the Bulletin, Ahmad spoke about his creative self-expression, and also shared a peek inside his residence.
He explained that his outdoor space is open for anyone, but the interior of the house is off limits.
“Tourists can freely take photos of my house from the outside and enjoy their fun time. However, I hope they understand my family’s privacy and, so far, they did. Sometimes they would even drop by while I was doing working outside. They would take photos of me working or even wanting to take photos with me,” he laughed.
“For me, this is the only way that I can contribute to my country particularly in the tourism sector. I am growing old, I am a senior citizen. I don’t have the stamina I used to when I was younger. This is all I have, and I am quite proud of it,” said Ahmad.
The retired woodcraftsman shared that he has had an interest in home decoration and styling ever since he was young.
“My love for decorating and making things beautiful just grew. From what you can see, I made the floral arrangements, designed and arranged my personal collections throughout my house,” he said.
The interior, particularly the living room, is neatly arranged and filled with displays of items from Ahmad’s personal collection such as antiques, coal iron, lanterns, plates, model cars, model aircraft and others. He said that he loves to add elements that are a little off but still work and look good in the space while still giving a reflection of the family that lives in it.
“This collection slowly grew from when I started to live in the house. When I see a particular thing that is interesting to be put up in my display rack, I would buy it. Whenever I travel, I also buy souvenirs for memories and I keep them as well. Your space should have things you truly love. One might think that all these items might not go together, but when you actually see them together, it looks effortless and perfect,” he said.
One particular special collection that caught the eye was a 100- year old Tajau (a gigantic jar used by older generations to store water) covered with old coins and coated and painted to make the surface shiny.
“This is why my house is also called Pottery House (Rumah Tembikar) by many. I do have several other Tajau I keep around the house, but this particular Tajau embellished with coins is the one I like most, because it is one of the first items that triggered my creativity many years ago when I was young,” he added.
For Ahmad, these treasures are precious as they reflect the cultural heritage and past traditions, which need to be preserved for future generations.
He has spent endless hours and dollars to build his dream house filled with vibrant detailing and decorations, personalising his own space.
“The outside of my house, especially the bridge pathway, gets a lot of wear and tear because many people cross it on a daily basis, so I would usually invest in durable paints so that the colours will look good over the long haul. I would still re-paint them as well as the decorations at least once a year. I do all these by myself. It is hard work, but I love doing it,” he said.
He added that he is very grateful for the encouraging response from the locals as well as tourists from various countries including China, Germany, France, Bangladesh, Vietnam
“I feel appreciated. Everything is worth my effort, my love and my passion. When anyone would stop by my house to capture memories, full of excitement and happiness, it makes my heart content, especially when I am able to contribute to the tourism sector and to receive support from many tourism agencies,” he said.
Ahmad also shared a piece of advice for those looking for their passion, saying that they need to commit themselves to what they are doing.
“Do what you want to do, continue doing it, and your hard work will be worth the effort and can be felt and shared by the next generation.”
“When I started designing this house, it was not only for the sake of tourism but was also intended to open the eyes and the minds of our young people to the culture and tradition of our ancestors that has its own distinctiveness and uniqueness that we need to preserve and hold on to.”