Every once in a while, post-dinner conversations at home inevitably turn to how good we all have it now in the age of modernity, with life made easier with electricity, clean water and warm showers.
The message ultimately is clear: Kampong-living was fun with stronger community bonds and neighbourly camaraderie.
But it was also brutal in its own way.
Here are four facts about living in a kampong -- as recalled by the older generation -- that will make you cherish what we have in Singapore today.
Proper sanitation & sewage system
One thing that scares and baffles people the most these days is how large groups of people in the past could live together as a community without proper widespread sanitation facilities.
It is no surprise that hygiene levels during kampong days were found wanting.
How it worked for village dwellers was simple though: A family rented a parcel of land from a landlord and built their house to live in.
The family also had to construct their own bathroom and toilet, which were usually located outdoors.
Human waste disposal was carried out manually by workers, known as night soil men, who plied the trade that was shunned by many – but clearly, somebody had to do it.
The concept of a flush toilet was many years away.
People accidentally falling into the toilet or dropping personal belongings into them was not unheard of.
These days, not having proper sanitation or a lack of toilet facilities is simply incomprehensible to most of us.
Proper sanitation is a fundamental public good.
Practically all public spaces come equipped with toilets, and some even with bathrooms for showering.
Clean drinking water
Related to sanitation is the issue of finding clean drinking water in kampongs.
Some families in the kampong had access to a common standpipe for water, but many relied solely on wells, which they had to dig by themselves.
Which is why falling into one was always an ever-present danger.
But getting hold of a source of water was merely the first step.
Kampong dwellers had to filter and treat the water, usually by sieving and boiling it, before consumption.
Groundwater contamination was always an issue.
These days, the turn of a faucet provides clean water to households.
Fear of contamination rarely crosses our minds, given our high standards for water safety today.
For greater peace of mind, many have turned to drinking water purifiers, such as the Viessmann Vitopure S4 and Vitopure S4-RO series.
These devices have multi-stage filtration systems (including a compressed activated carbon filter) to effectively remove sediments, bacteria, and viruses.
The greatest invention of the 20th century, it has been argued, is likely the modern power grid.
People have come to use electricity for practically everything from lighting, heating, cooling, and refrigeration and for operating appliances, computers, electronics, machinery, and public transportation systems.
During the time of kampong-living and before the widespread adoption of the electric power grid, the few appliances people had, if any, were powered by local generators.
However, the advent of the electric power grid enabled the provision of reliable and affordable electricity to a much broader population, allowing for the widespread usage of the appliances that bring us so much comfort today.
Electric fans were in use, but they were considered luxury items at home -- largely because electricity was uncommon in kampongs.
For people living in the tropics, overcoming the oppressive heat in the day and night was a regular affair.
Of course, there are coping mechanisms when it comes to cooling off.
Kampong dwellers used to shower multiple times a day just to cool off.
It was economical, efficient and effective.
But there were also downsides.
On cooler days, yearning for a warm shower involved having to manually boil water in a pot or kettle to be mixed with room temperature water, which was tedious and time-consuming.
It was uncommon to have the luxury of readily available warm showers due to the limited availability of electricity and accessibility of heating technology that we have now.
Preparing a bath was common.
Bathing with a bucket was also the norm.
This resulted in the water having to be constantly replenished, which meant more work for a simple shower.
These days, in contrast, a warm shower is available at the touch of a button, providing convenience on demand in nearly every household bathroom in Singapore.
At the end of a long day, a warm shower is one of life’s little pleasures that people look forward to.
Shower technology these days
These days, showers utilise state-of-the-art technology that have been refined and improved according to consumers’ needs, with different models of instant and storage water heaters made available for any household type.
The Viessmann Vitowell range of water heaters available in Singapore are energy-friendly devices that were built to be durable, using Ceratech Technology®, a ceramic heating element and high-quality ABS material to cut down on the need for maintenance.
In terms of quality, Vitowell water heaters are also equipped with a double-safety thermostat to prevent short circuits and overheating.
Moreover, with the help of sophisticated temperature controls, Vitowell water heaters provide precise water heating.
The different types of modern creature comforts for people to enjoy have grown.
The Vitowell deluxe range features digital displays on the heater to help users identify the water temperature before and while the heater is running, providing quick sight confirmation to know the heating status at a glance without having to turn on the shower to check.
With technological advances, the features have become easy and intuitive to use on a daily basis.
Different types of heaters available
Instant water heater
Such features can be found on the Vitowell easy Deluxe water heater.
Despite its compact size, this instant water heater is not only space-saving but also built to provide consistent temperature control and scalding protection, with automatic shutdown at 55°C.
For households that require more features and at-a-glance convenience, the Vitowell easy Deluxe water heater comes with a digital stepless temperature adjustment with a soft touch display, as well as a memory function.
The memory mode function enables users to pre-set up to two temperatures for easy and quick access to favourite shower temperatures.
The perfect shower is also attainable easily these days thanks to showering systems that provide variation in water delivery options.
Viessmann’s Vitowell easy Premium with rainshower is the newest product package featuring a high-end duo shower system that includes a multi-spray showerhead combined with a rain shower for households in Singapore.
The best part is that Viessmann, based in Allendorf, Germany, has over 100 years of history -- and the brand has built on its German heritage and industry-leading expertise in water heating solutions to now offer a range of technologically-advanced and safe domestic water heaters to households in Singapore since 2021.
Storage water heater
Viessmann storage water heaters are all CE-marked, which means they have been assessed to meet high safety, health, and environmental protection requirements.
But that’s not all.
The Vitowell comfort range of electric storage water heaters, on the other hand, serves different domestic capacity needs with a storage capacity of up to 30 litres.
Furthermore, the Vitowell comfort Deluxe comes with a timer mode that allows users to programme up to two daily heater-activation periods, during this period, stored water can be heated up to the desired temperature whenever necessary.
The advantage of a storage water heater is that it can act as a backup to provide a consistent source of water for easy access to showers.
With such innovations and everyday conveniences, it is not surprising that people do not miss everything about kampong-living.
Viessmann’s water solutions and water purifiers are currently available for purchase on Lazada.
For more information on the range of Viessmann water solutions available in Singapore, click here.
For advice on water heater selection and installation, click here.
You can also chat with Viessmann staff via WhatsApp at +65 8028 0468.
Top photos via Yip Cheong Fun & Viessmann
This sponsored article by Viessmann made this writer treasure the simple comforts we have in modern-day Singapore.
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