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Aug 31, 2013

Growing Up in Sungei Road in Early Singapore

The Singapore Ice Works in Sungei Road in 1958

Nobody in the world can be born at the same time (except maybe as twins or more siblings) and grown up in the same place with everyone.  Even the twins have different experiences, memories and perspectives. There are some who are born in one place and then moved to another place to stay and grow up.

I have never grown up in Sungei Road in Singapore at anytime since my birth.  However, I have a few schoolmates who grew up in Sungei Road in the 1960s and shared their fond nostalgic memories of  a notorious area in Singapore and over the world with an infamous name - "Thieves' Market".

Although I have heard the name "Sungei Road" from my schoolmates during our schooldays, I had never been there.

The first time I visited the place with my former colleague Ng Chin Beow, a long-time nostalgia friend.  It was his favorite haunt for good bargains to buy spare parts for his motor-cycles, radios, amplifiers and other electrical devices.  Almost every Saturday afternoons after work, he would bring me along on his motor-cycle and we roam around Sungei Road to stroll and "look see, look see".  There were many new or rather second-hand products to learn and conduct "market research" in case we needed something suddenly and remembered seen them at Sungei Road.  Memories of Sungei Road was stored in my "memory bank" for about three years while we were working together, lots of fun and enjoyment of our young adventurous days in Singapore.

It was like a very different world in Singapore, a new place of a different era never seen before to discover, explore and experience  ...

For decades, the residents of Sungei Road rooted on to live, study, work resiliently to their businesses  despite an undeserving "offensive reputations" because of the place nickname which was picked for fun and easy to remember. The residents and their families born and lived in Sungei Road are not dealing with stolen stuff.  They are traders with entrepreneurship spirit to provide a much needed services not found elsewhere in Singapore in the early days.

Over the centuries, little known stories of Sungei Road of famous people born at a  small place in Singapore.

Many descendants of the forefathers from "rags to riches" as second-hand goods traders who brought up to groom the successful younger generations, educate them and taught them decades of valuable business experiences the ropes of the business and "tricks of the trade" for a better Singapore for many decades.  Many Singaporeans who grew up in Sungei Road have businesses in Jalan Besar and the present computer and electrical shops in Sim Lim Square.

It is better known as the "Sungei Road Flea Market" as published by the National Heritage Board    Portal.

More nostalgia blogs about Sungei Road by my popular blogger friends are available at "Remember Singapore" here . Yeo Hong Eng's "Old Robinson Petang" here contributed to the Singapore Memory Portal and Images of Sungei Road in Chronological Order .

Fellow blogger Lee KL shared a related blog topic in Chinese here .

Sungei Road - Then

Sungei Road, Singapore  c 1950
Sungei Road (literally River Road) is a road in Singapore situated between Serangoon Road and Jalan Besar.

Sungei Road got its name because it runs along the banks of the Rochor River (Sungei Rochor), hence its Malay name sungei meaning "river". Sungei Road start opposite the former Kandang Kerbau police station, hence it was known to the Chinese in Hokkien dialect as "tek kah ma ta chu" meaning "tek kah police station"




A family walking along Rochore Canal to cross the bridge in 1970s
The Rochore Canal towards Sungei Rd under construction in 1974
A roadside cobbler in Sungei Road  c 1970s
A  small tool electrician at work in Sungei Road  c 2009.  Thanks to Geraldine Soh for sharing.

The second-hand goods shops at Sungei Road c 1970s



Foreign visitors to Sungei Road  c  1970s


The coffee-shop in Sungei Road with the trishaws outside was where I had the first taste of  Kan Chia Mee   which is now found at the Maxwell Road Food Centre as reviewed by the "Hungry Island".  I loved the best cheap and good Trishaw Riders' daily meals cost at only 20 cents a bowl in those day.

Another favorite food to remember of Sungei Road was the specialty laksa sold at 50 cents a bowl..  The foodie blog by Dr Leslie Tay here .

Sungei Road - Now



The archived photos of "Sungei Road - Then" are shared on this nostalgia blog with thanks and acknowledgement of National Archives of Singapore and the respective contributors for photo credit.  The present photos with credit and thanks to Google Map website.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Chun See Lam said...

I too have some memories of this place; but mostly from my army days. Have been wanting to blog about it; but never quite got around to it.

September 2, 2013 at 2:43 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thank you, Chun See. We look forward to your memories of Sungei Road in your "memory bank storage" to blog and share with our nostalgia friends.

September 3, 2013 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger Boon Kiat Lim said...

Sungei road does not start from opp old KK Police station. opp KK police station is Old tekka market. Sungei road still start from the old icework factory(Kek Sng Kiuo"

October 13, 2013 at 9:26 PM  

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