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Friday, 28 December 2012


Tamu Kianggeh as of 23rd May 2008

Facts about Tamu Kianggeh

Today,many sellers along the Kianggeh River selling goods and supplies required by the Brunei Town inhabitants from their boats.

A visitor to today's Tamu at Kianggeh with its colourful modern umbrellas would have thought that the tamu have always been there for quite a while.

He or she would be surprised if told that the tamu at Kianggeh is relatively recent. The tamu has not always been there. Many do not realise that it has moved several times over the years.

The Tamu Kianggeh is now one of the best places for visitors to sample Bruneian cuisine.

It does not matter whether one likes traditional delicacies or have a sweet tooth, one can find many local dishes made from recipes passed down from one generation to another.

Indeed any visitor will be spoilt for choice. Other than food, visitors can also find local traditional handicrafts such as hand-made parang (machete) or tudung dulang (decorative food cover), handwoven baskets and trays, pots and vases for sale.

What else to find here:

Traditional foods:ambuyat,jeruk binjai (pickles),belacan,kueh ardam,kueh penyaram,kueh malaya,kuah apam,cucur pisang,kueh bingka,cakoi,etc.
For collectors:collectible old coins,mystique items,parang,keris,etc

Others: medicine herbal products,dry foods like pusu,tahai,udang kering,live poultry,fruits,veggies,fresh marine products,pets,flower & fruit plants.

  This is how the tamu looks like,it has been  the busiest market especially every sunday & friday.

 Boat is the main transportation used for sellers to load & unload their goods.

From Tamu,we are able to see the standing PGGMB building.

Tamu in the old days 

--July 1521-- 
According to an old statement by Antonio Pigafetta  the Italian chronicler of Ferdinand Magellan's fleet that made a stop at the tiny sultanate described Brunei with women going around selling their wares.

His description about Brunei, "that city is entirely built in salt water, except the houses of the king and certain chiefs. It contains twenty-five thousand hearths. The houses are all constructed of wood and built up from the ground on tall pillars. When the tide is high, women go in boats through the settlement selling articles necessary to maintain life."

--Late 1980s--
Every early day along the Brunei River, a visitor to Brunei can see a number of small Brunei sampans called "bidars".

These boats rowed by women vendors with their "siraung" or extra-large circular hats were seen moving up and down the houses along Kampong Ayer. Some of them also plied their wares along the jetties near the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan. These women vendors were known as "Padians".

The padians were said to be a creation by Pateh Berbai who eventually became Sultan Ahmad, Brunei's second Sultan.

In Syair Awang Semaun, Brunei's contemporary epic poetic legends, it was said it was Pateh Berbai who initiated the idea of a floating market selling all sorts of foodstuffs, vegetables and commodities.

With such a big population (even in the 14th century, Brunei's Kampong Ayer was estimated by Western travellers to consist of some 30,000 households), a big market on land would be difficult to manage. It would be more convenient for the wares to be sold on the boats on water and easier to disperse should there be any troubles or disputes.

However by the 1980s, the padians were already a dying breed. In the next 10 years, none could be seen and today, the padians have become completely extinct only remaining in the memory, paintings and photographs.


The padians' decline was probably due to a number of factors.
The government had opened up the dry land and encouraged many Kampong Ayer residents to migrate to the interior parts. The development of the dry land and the capital brought about the existence of markets and "tamus" or smaller markets.

The padians failed to continue serving as the centre of trade as the markets on dry land developed.

Padians were generally small time vendors making a profit from the "pengalus" who bought the supply from the markets by marking up their prices and pocketing the difference.

Pengalus were middlemen and were generally men who paddled to the interior villages and buying and bringing goods to the market. In the earlier days, the pengalus were barter traders who exchanged goods between the towns and the inland areas.

Some of the goods exchanged were cooking utensils, salt, tamarind, sugar, salted fish, clothes and ornaments.

However by the turn of the twentieth century, many of the suppliers brought their wares directly to the markets without going through the padians or the pengalus.

--1950s to 1960s--
The first identifiable modern market in the 1950s and 1960s was the triangular area in front of the Yayasan Building behind the building called the "Jardine Wharf" Building. That area also housed a fruit and vegetable market. Many vendors congregate to the area to sell their vegetables, live stocks, fruits and the Brunei traditional cakes and biscuits.

It never had a proper name other than being called a "tamu". It is possible that the word "tamu" is derived from the standard Malay word "temu" which means "to meet".

 By the early 1970s, it had spread to the area in front of the Jardine Wharf Building which is today's Taman Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien.

In the 1970s, the Taman was only a plain open field with no grandstands. Many vendors set up their stalls along this field.

The area facing the mosque, in front of the police station (now demolished and made into a carpark) specialised in selling clothing articles and also other knick knacks, whereas the area facing the building sells food and related products.

--1980s to 1984s--
By the 1980s, preparations were being made for Brunei's Independence which was on the eve of 1 January 1984. Grandstands had to be built.

The Brunei Police Station was demolished and was rebuilt at where it is today. The field was cleared and being turned into today's Taman Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien.

The vendors were given a temporary space at Batu Satu, Jalan Tutong. There was an open area near a department store called Klasse Jaya which has now been demolished.

In the meantime preparations were being made to turn a small area across the Kianggeh river into today's Tamu Kianggeh.

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