Lest We Forget


Compiled by Marilyn B

Step into the past at Kg Lupak Luas

Ron Knox

April 2, 2011 – You never know what you will find along the most innocent looking simpangs in Brunei.

They may look innocuous from the outside but when you go into them, you find all kinds of unexpected treasures. And Jalan Sungai Assam did not disappoint.

I have driven past Jalan Sungai Assam dozens of times. It’s one of those simpangs that doesn’t get a second glance usually. But today I happened to spot someone walking down it towards the main road. It was an Indian tradesman carrying his wares in a basket.

“I wonder what’s up there?,” I thought.

The simpang becomes a little narrow as you drive up it so I parked my car, grabbed my camera and walked. As I entered the village I felt like I had stepped back in time. There are still villagees in Brunei that preserve the charm they all must have had half a century or more ago.

Kampong Lupak Luas is one of these. Its traditional wooden houses were sheltered from the sun by leafy coconut palms. There are cooling grass verges, not too much concrete which stores the sun’s heat and then radiates it back at you all day long!

ABOVE & BELOW: Taking a break at Kampong Burong Pingai Ayer; and a football match underway. PHOTOS: RON KNOX

Kampong Ayer fragment

The simpang ends in the kampong and the houses are built in a semi-circle which provides the kampong kids with their football pitch. It was a cool, cloudy afternoon and they were playing football now.

Apart from the abundance of motor cars, all I imagined was how a traditional village used to be, once upon a time.

And there is more to Kampong Lupak Luas than I expected.

An adjacent walkway leads to a fragment of Kampong Ayer, with about a dozen or so Water Village houses built in their own little tributary of the Brunei River, behind the larger Kampong Burong Pingai Ayer. I doubt if this one has changed much in the last 40 or 50 years.

It’s a beautiful sanctuary of peace and tranquility.

One or two of the residents were enjoying the cool afternoon having a chat, some were under their homes working on their boats. One of the kids was riding his bike around the walkways.

I relaxed and enjoyed great views that included the Istana Nurul Iman and one of Kampong Ayer’s larger mosques.

I could have stayed much longer but the afternoon was wearing on and I had things to do. Taking a last look around at this idyllic scene I hoisted my camera over my shoulder and headed back to my car.

It’s nice to enjoy all the mod-cons that technology brings, but perhaps we need to combine it with a living environment that retains some of the gentle charm and relaxing qualities that seem to be missing in today’s brisk and busy world.