Find out more about the lives of early Chinese migrants in Terengganu at the Nostalgia Of Kampung China exhibition, writes Teresa Yong-Leong
TRAVEL agencies and tour guides are a very happy lot these days as they can now tell stories of how the first Chinese immigrants landed on the Terengganu coast some 200 years ago.
“They were weary of leading tours to the Land Of Turtles with few interesting stories to share with tourists,” says Dr Veronica Ng Foong Peng, senior lecturer at Taylor’s University School of Architecture, Building And Design.
She had gleaned this information from participants of The Nostalgia Of Kampung China seminar recently, held in conjunction with the current exhibition of the same name in Terengganu State Museum, Kuala Terengganu. It ends on March 18.
The exhibition showcases paintings and sketches of traditional buildings and other historical documents in the village. It is organised by Taylor’s University School Of Architecture, Building And Design (SABD) and also Centre for Modern Architecture in Southeast Asia (Massa).
The two-week exhibition is the result of research and fieldwork on Kampung China by students and academicians of SABD in December 2009.
According to Kuala Terengganu state assemblyman Datuk Toh Chin Yaw, the exhibition reveals the nostalgia of the quaint, vibrant village.
“It brings to light the memories and the attachment of the community to the place as well as showcases its rich and diverse architectural make-up amid contemporary urban developments.
“This collective effort by the community, lecturers and students acts as a platform for learning and dissemination of knowledge to the public, researchers and policy makers.”
SABD dean Tony Liew says the 200-year-old settlement with more than 200 families, predates the founding of the Terengganu sultanate.
He says there are six design styles in the village: Early shophouses, traditional, eclectic, modern, contemporary and the Ho Ann Kiong Temple.
“What they have done at Kampung China eventually turned out to be a vital source of information in helping to rebuild the temple which was burnt down two years ago.”
The community is adamant about preserving its cultural heritage despite the commercialisation of the settlement under the guise of revitalising the village with the construction of Pulau Wawasan on reclaimed land in the name of promoting tourism in the state. Pulau Wawasan is the site for the annual Terengganu Monsoon Cup.
In conjunction with the exhibition, a coffee table book of the same title, Nostalgia Of Kampung China, will be launched soon.