Many civilisations and cities had their beginnings along river estuaries and river mouths. Cities such as Cairo, New York, Sydney to name a few. Even Singapura and Melaka, had their beginnings from the river mouth.
This is due to freshwater supply, fishing, ease of transport via the waterways and trade. The mouth of the river, going out to the sea, was also a gateway to other cities and ports.
As the population grows, more people will settle upstream. The busy parts will be near the river mouth while the more peaceful dwellings will be further upstream.
The point of this post is to share the usage of the word "hulu".
Hulu is a Malay word for the beginning, or the source of something. In this case, the source of the river. "Muara" or "Kuala" means the mouth of the river. Therefore, hulu and muara are at the opposite ends of the river.
The idea that the word "Hulu" or "Ulu" depicts a far flung place, is because there would be less dwellings near the river source, further upstream, away from the bustling activities at the "Muara".
"Hulu" does not directly and literally mean, far or secluded. It basically means the beginning of something or the source of a river.
Look through the maps on Singapore Street Directory and spot the river sources for places like, Ulu Sembawang, Ulu Seletar, Ulu Pandan etc. and you will notice they are all at the source of the particular river.
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