Today in Singapore we followed the trail of the Bugis people from the Kalang river where they had settlement up top kampung glam. The Bugis came from current Sulawesi region but through trade and migration in the 18th centuries found them establishing settlements around Riau Malaysia and Singapore
Our first stop near the old airport gates (which I was also initially baffled about) there was a ruined walled enclosure which supposedly was the site for an Istana which is long gone. I can’t seem to find a lot about this site however. We also found a tablet embedded in the walls which was of Tamil script but apart from a few words it was very difficult to understand the meaning.
Walking along the Kallang and Rochor rivers we learnt about the settlements of not only the Bugis but others such as Orang Kallang Orang Laut, who lived around there prior to Raffles “founding” of the country. The pre history seems little known among even locals.
We stopped next at the Hajja Fatima mosque, built by the lady of the sane name. She was married to a Bugis Prince who died and she took over his business. The mosque stands where her residence used to be. The design is rather unique as it has Chinese and European elements including a minaret that rather resembles a church spire. The minaret also leans about 6 degrees making it Singapore’s leaning tower.
We went by the Malabar mosque to Jalan Kubor and stopped awhile at the tomb of Ambo sooloh who was a prominent business man. Here was the first place we saw that the Bugis had their own script. It rarely used now as it the language has been romanized.
A visit to the Malay heritage center across the road gave more understanding about the language and the people, culture and history. It is rather interesting to discover the backgrounds of people who have moved here long ago. They are now all lumped as Malays but have very different cultural and linguistic backgrounds.