[note: The article below was printed in last Sunday's Brunei Times under the usual Golden Legacy article. I arrived back on Thursday from Qatar and only had a couple of days to do this. The article is a merger of two blog pieces I wrote in 2006, so it did not take that long. For the photographs, I had to drive into the Kampung and take them. The one with the wooden house was interesting. I took the photograph from the back as it looks old and I wanted to give a 'tucked away' sense but when I went to the front of this house, it had a couple of huge satellite dishes! So, never ever judge a house.]
Many people using the Jalan Tutong route from Bandar Seri Begawan sometime fail to see the areas beyond Sengkurong. This is because the double carriageway ended at the junction of Jalan Tutong and Jalan Jerudong and then carried on at Jalan Jerudong.
Hence many motorists preferring the modern road and the highway rather than on the old single lane Jalan Tutong would proceed to use Jalan Jerudong and go on the highway if they wish to go to Tutong and beyond.
As a result, most people failed to realise that there is an interesting village just after Sengkurong. The village is called Kampung Tanjung Nangka.
As usual, the kampungs in Brunei either have a few names for it in the past or the kampung itself has many place names and one got chosen to be the name of the village. According to sources, Kampung Tanjung Nangka has 3 previous names, none of which survived.
No one really knows the origin of the kampung. Looking at the location of it and the history of Brunei, you will be surprised to actually find people wanting to stay there to begin with in the past. It is very far from the capital at Kampong Ayer and in the early 20th century, there was no road from the capital to the village.
The first of the three old names of Kampung Tanjung Nangka is Kampung Temiang. Temiang is the Brunei word for one of the bamboo species of which a lot of that bamboo grew in the kampung previously.
Another name was Kampung Kayu Tinggi which is derived from an extraordinary tall tree around the area. The bark of the tree is said to be coloured red, green and black and of course, no one knows the identity of the tree.
The last name is Kampung Binjai Kumit. Binjai is the name of a local fruit, the same family as the mango. In this case, the Binjai tree belonged to a man named Kumit. Again the tree was said to be extraordinary - its fruits nicer, its size bigger and the tree taller than the usual binjai trees.
The final name Kampung Tanjung Nangka was derived from a Nangka (jackfruit) tree found in the area. Again the tree was said to be much bigger than the usual Nangka Tree (it was said that the girth was twice a man's hug), the fruits much bigger and described to be as big as the Chinese salted eggs vase and can weigh as much as 50 katis (30 kg).
The tree became so famous that many people around the outlying area came to see it. It was said that a few people got attracted to it and decided to stay there in the hope that the area might be lucky for them.
The kampung also has an interesting story about a water well called Telaga Raden Bisa. An orphan family whose mother died soon after giving birth to the youngest child once stayed there.
The children were called Raden, Ugang and Musa. One day, while boiling sugarcanes to make sugar, the father found a plant growing in the fire called pohon balik angin which is said to bring fortune to those who owned it.
The children divided the various parts of the plant - Raden took the roots, Ugang the stalk and Musa the leaves - and the father suggested that they eat the parts.
When they grew up, Raden became very toxic to other people but not his family. He can poison people by touching them and when he walked, the grass will die. He became known as Raden Bisa.
Ugang became a very strong man and Musa became a hardworker and they both left the village to become wealthy.
Raden Bisa stayed on to the consternation of the other villagers and they petitioned to the two brothers to ask him to leave the village as well as he became too toxic to the point that he could no longer even go into the river as the fishes will die. He agreed to leave the village and live in the forest.
In the forest he felt so lonely and asked his brothers to end his life. The brothers complied only after he threatened that he will kill them and everyone in the village.
They killed him by spearing him from afar. It was said that his blood trickled into the nearby water well. Villagers later discovered that the water from the well now polluted by Raden Bisa's blood, instead of becoming poisonous, can heal many illnesses if they bathe in it or drink the water. According to people in the know, the well is still there but you do have to search for it.
A recent Brunei Museum discovery has thrown some light into how old Kampung Tanjung Nangka is.
Sometimes it is indeed surprising how long some of our villages have been inhabited.
We know for a fact that along Sungai Brunei, the Kota Batu areas, Bruneians have lived there for hundreds of years.
But for the most parts, most of the interiors of Brunei are not habited by anyone until very recently. Of course, there are some natives which live earlier in the interior parts of Brunei. However it is debatable as to when they started.
A recent Museum Department publications reported an excavation work which they did at Kampung Tanjung Nangka. The excavation was done along the Damuan River. Damuan River is about 2 kilometers away from the main road Jalan Tutong.
The Damuan River was recently widened and a lot of dredging was done along the river bank. The sands that were dredged were placed alongside the riverbanks.
Among the sands, many shards of potteries were found. In fact up to 5 boxes of broken pieces were actually found where the majority of these were potteries of different types. They have been identified as coming from the Sung Dynasty (960-1279), the blue white potteries from the Ming Dynasty and also the Ching Dynasty (1368-1912).
What was pretty clear is that the area around the village has been inhabited a very long time ago which is roughly around the 10th to 14th Centuries and continued until at least to the early 20th century.
In those days, rivers were the main communications and transportation channels, and it is not surprising that there are settlements as far inland as that found in Tanjung Nangka.
However judging by the amount of potteries found which is considered as small by archaeology standards, it is more likely that the settlements there were very small.
But it still indicated that the area around there despite the fact being considered far to some people have been settled, if the potteries evidences are correct, about 1,000 years ago, and that's how long people have been living in Tanjung Nangka.