Today we say Goodbye to Bottle Tree Village

According to the Straits Times, Bottle Tree Village, the rustic enclave with a popular seafood restaurant in Sembawang, will bid its patrons farewell today. Its lease with the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) will run out next month and the option to extend the lease by SLA came too late for the owners.

Being only 8 years old, we cannot say that we have lost a heritage site. But if this village was given the chance to exist, the story could have been different 42 years later.

Yes, we may have seen many restaurants and eateries close down, even renowned ones – mainly citing high rental cost and sustainability issues. But few resonate with the heart like this. What we lost is a dream, an open space and a place to escape from the stressing city.

Bottle Tree was a crazy idea of 5 friends who dreamed about creating a concept village where there will be eateries, recreational activities and a winding down space. And this dream actually came true. The six Bottle Trees cost a whopping $30,000 each from Australia then, and I do not think any practical Singaporean would do something which would be seen as ‘senseless’. Really, who spends 6 figure sums buying trees?

Everytime I go to Bottle Tree Village, I feel like I am in another world all together. It is liberating! The air, the greenery, the space to roam around, the beautiful skies, seaview and yes, the trees which we would all love to hug (not like the army ones). Children were fishing prawns with parents, and they played with ‘traditional’ games like hide and seek and slides, not ipads and iphones.

We hear that this Sembawang land might be turned to a “theme park with ancillary food and beverage service”.

I have nothing against theme parks and eating places. Even though the Bottle Tree Village was also ‘man-made’, what it gave was a sense of genuinely.

Perhaps in Singapore, it is really inevitable that the old will give way to the new. Some things would just never be the same again. As we say Goodbye to Bottle Tree Village, I would like to say, thank you for the memories.

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