Another bit of paradise soon to be lost

26 07 2011

Having been caught up in the frenzy of what has been a frenetic two months, I am grateful for the doses of peace and calm that does come my way every now and again. I did finally manage to have a large dose of that on Sunday when I got up bright and early, meaning to catch the first rays of the sun streaming through woods that will in the very near future disappear as much of the Singapore we have once known has. While the low clouds in the east had conspired to deprive me of what must surely be a gorgeous view of the rays of the sun streaming through the trees, I was able to better become acquainted with the area around which I had only a month or so earlier visited, spending the entire morning at one of two of the last dragon kilns in Singapore, the Thow Kwang Dragon Kiln.

Water Lilies in a pond at Thow Kwang Dragon Kiln.

The Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle is built around the Thow Kwang Dragon Kiln which the Tan family has operated since 1965.

It was mostly around a pond, that I spent most of my morning, first indulging in a leisurely breakfast and being entertained by the excited songs of the early morning that the winged creatures that were perched on the branches of the trees that surrounded the pond were adding to the otherwise calm surroundings. It seemed for a while that I was in a little bit paradise, one that is certainly hard to find in the cold grey world that dominates our daily lives in Singapore. The pond is a magnet for creatures of all kinds, butterflies and dragonflies could be seen, colouring the otherwise single coloured surface of a body of water that was carved out of the remnants of the gaps in the earth left behind from the harvest of white Jurong clay that attracted as many as nine similiar kilns to the area. Fishermen of both the winged variety, resplendent in the bright colours of the feathered suits they adorn, and of the human kind, are also regular visitors to the pond, in search of a meal harvested from its depths.

The land on which the pond is will be returned to the JTC.

An incense burner by the pond.

A close-up of the potter's hut.

Fishing by a potter's hut.

Even with my brief encounter with the so-called Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle which surrounds the kiln, I find it sad thinking about the encroachment of the grey world on the area that was happening right at that moment I was there – the earth just beyond the gates of the pottery jungle had already scarred by the bulldozers that were seen up the road. Much of the land that surrounds the pottery jungle is being stripped bare of the trees that not only provide shade to the pottery jungle, but also insulate the area from the urban world that lies just beyond the soon to be lost woods. The area is being cleared by the Jurong Town Corporation (JTC) to make way for the development of a CleanTech Park. It is not only the woods that would be lost (at least to the pottery jungle), but also the pond at which I spent the morning – the pickets of intended green fences that many detest are already up to remind us that the land on which the pond sits, is being returned to the JTC (the land on which the kiln and the potery jungle is on is leased on an annual basis).

Bulldozers have moved into the area and are clearing the woods that surround the area for a CleanTech Park development.

While the sleeping dragon will continue to sleep, rising occasionally, it is its companions which it will find that are no longer there who will probably feel the loss of the woods in the area most. And as the woods of grey replace the woods of green in the area, those of us who have sought to deprive the dragon’s of its companions may have also deprived ourselves and our future generations of the joy that could be found in that little bit of paradise that once existed in the woods.

A pathway not into the woods anymore, but to what will be the CleanTech Park.

A dragonfly frolicking over the pond.

A Common Flameback Woodpecker seen on the trunk of a tree near the pond.

A skink scampers across a footpath ...

A centipede.




7 responses

26 07 2011

hey, is this place still open to visit?

26 07 2011
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Yes, it is still opened … it is the land around it that is being cleared as well as a part of the land that was leased to that is being returned.

26 07 2011
Lam Chun See

Hi Jerome. Congrats on your winning the blog award. Sigh … I wish I have 1/2 your photography skills. Also I am alway shy to take photo of strangers for fear that they will scold me.

28 07 2011
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Thanks Chun See! Hey your photos are great. Whole idea is to get the photos to talk … always good to have a zoom to get far enough from people you don’t know!

28 07 2011
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

The green fence has since come up 😦

18 08 2011

Hi Jerome,

I’m looking at the possibility of writing about this for school.
It would be great if you could advise me on these questions:

– has the clearance and taking back of land affected Thow Kwang Pottery in any way? Whether it’s the potter’s hut or the daily operations, any effect at all etc etc

– do you know if the lease of land the enterprise is currently sitting on will eventually/soon be taken back as well?

18 08 2011
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Hi Jacq, the clearance of the land and its return does not in any way affect Thow Kwang in any way at the moment. What is being planned for the area as I understand it is a CleanTech Park – and this may in the future affect the kiln itself as firing may then not be permitted (you may also like to know that the kiln is not being used for any commercial activities at the moment and is maintained out of personal interest in it and to support the local clay artist community). As I understand it, the land is currently on an annual lease and assurances have been provided on the lease of the land on which the kiln itself is on up to 2014. It would probably be best to speak to the kiln owners should you require further information – I can help put you in touch with them. Jerome

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