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A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Mar 30, 2013

Seafarers' Singapore (Part 2)

Singapore Waterfront in 1960s

Previous: Seafarers' Singapore ( Part 1 )  of 4

Singapore is a city that never goes to sleep.  Always there is movement, the clip-clop sound of Chinese wooden shoes and nowadays even the dock labourers work night and day in shifts to provide a 24-hour service.

Dock labourers at Singapore Harbour Board  c  1930
Transport workers loading goods on the lorry  c  1950
Clog-maker in Chinatown, Singapore  c 1976
After dark, when the lights are on, the bustle of the day market changes to the quicker bustle of the night market - you can buy anything at almost any time in this great emporium.  In the cool of the evening the streets in Chinatown are crowded as you thread your way through the predominantly Hokien area towards Trengganu Street.  There the buildings are of particular architectural interest, having been designed and built by the early Portuguese traders.

Chinatown at night  c  1973

Fruit stalls at Hokien St, Singapore  c  1962

Hawkers at Trengganu St   c  1950
Trengganu St at night  c  1968
We can see rows upon rows of human habitations mostly divided into small rooms and then again sub-divided into cubicles with rows of bunk-like beds.

Cubicles with bunk-like beds in Chinatown  c 1950

Here and there is the family ancestral altar with burning joss-sticks and everywhere hordes of children.

In the centre of Trengganu Street are well-lit market stalls selling everything you can possibly think of.  The thrifty Asian housewife buys here at a good deal less than at the conventional shops.  The merchants with their shops on wheel or trestle table are not involved in costly overhead expenses.

Succulent food is being prepared and served from hawkers barrows on the sidewalks.  These barrows contain a charcoal fire and a kwali, Chinese frying pans.  The spicy aromas are so tantalizing, their stir your digestive juices most unfarily, for we have already had our dinner before coming ashore.

A hawker keeps beside him a caged menagerie of live animals, readily availbe against his needs in preparing the soup dishes he advertises under neon lights.  These are frogs, snakes, civet cats and iguanas.

Nearby in Upper Chin Chew Street live the red-hatted Hakka women of Singapore, so familiar even today on the new building sites as they labour under loads of bricks or busy themselves mixing cement.  Having finished their day's hard work, and eaten their evening meal, they now clutter up the street chatting in little groups, while they wait for the towkay to come along give them their work tickets for tomorrow.  These extraordinary women do not normally marry, but if such should happen, then it is agreed the husbands attend to all domestic chores.  They adopt their children, usually girls to look after them in their old age.  As soon as the towkay appears and has distributed their tickets, the street suddenly becomes totally deserted for a while, as the little beavers fade away to their rooms - to be collected by lorries for work at seven o'clock next morning.

Young lovely Singaporean ladies dressed as Samsui women in Chingay Parade 1980
The "red-hatted Hakka women of Singapore" referred to by Ray Tyers are the "Samsui Women of Singapore" in the 1960s and 1970s.

[Tribute to Samsui Women of Singapore] blog is linked here .

To be continued ...



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