I made a trip to Sungei Road Thieves Market. The scorching afternoon sun was not showing any mercy that day. An elderly man with sunbaked skin stood in front of his stall. I watched him as he gingerly move about. When we made eye contact, the elderly uncle gave me a smile, revealing his crooked, coffee-stained teeth.
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What is the story behind this man? I looked away as I did not know how to react. The elderly uncle was just selling junk. Is this the Sungei Road I have been reading about?
Tried taking a few photos but an Indian man shouted at me. I noticed his visible tatts on his arms and he went, “ah boy, don’t anyhow take photo, you better delete them.” I apologized immediately. Am I still in Singapore? I realized Sungei Road is not a typical Singapore area – suddenly I don’t feel very safe. I felt for my wallet and it was still there.
Not all hawkers were of the same plight. Some were abled middle aged female – my guess is they were from PRC. I saw another man spotting a silver Rolex watch on his wrist and thick gold chain dangling around his neck. He was wearing the classic uncle singlet. What made his stand out was his BMW. He opened his boot and began shouting “Come buy come buy.”
It was a rojak of old people and odd people. I wondered how many were genuinely hawkers. They looked like small business owners to me.
I noticed there were blocks of HDB nearby. Those staying there must be relieved that Sungei Road will soon be a thing of the past. Residents can finally have a cleaner and more hygienic living environment.
This may sound selfish but how many Singaporeans have visited Sungei Road? Is there a need to keep this place for a small group of hawkers?
I spent another 10 minutes walking. Almost everyone I saw was a foreign worker. And of course, the odd Singaporean who got shouted at for taking photos.