Below is another recent set of B&W street photographs taken locally to be added to my ongoing ever captured "B&W Street Photography in Asia" portfolio. These B&W images can also be viewed at my Flickr photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenniferteophotography/
I made a trip to one of Singapore's favourite and oldest flea markets and that is none other than the one located at Sungei Road, near Bugis / Rochor Canal. This popular flea market is also commonly known as a 'Thieves Market', simply because it is one authentic, unchoreographed place.
If you are tired of Singapore's glitzy, air-conditioned mega-malls, head for the Sungei Road flea market to see another face of Singapore. There are no pretensions here. Here, you'll find bare-chested, pot-bellied old men manning their stalls. Here, they cast their cigarette ash carelessly and make no attempt to put on fake smiles. Nor do they ask those rehearsed may-I-help-you-sir questions.
Both sides of this buzzling street are occupied by flea traders in makeshift stalls, some with tentage and some with large canopy unbrellas seen in the above photo.
Many years ago, this flea market in Singapore was allegedly the place to buy stolen goods. Hence the name 'Thieves' Market'. And there is one saying that just refused to go away: if you had something stolen from your house, just go down to Sungei Road and buy it back. I actually got to know about this from a few elderly people. And somtimes, i do still read about it in some travel guide books. Amazing!!
Times have changed though after the local authorities stepped in. The stall holders now have to declare that they are not selling stolen goods. Perhaps this has eroded the mystery of Sungei Road somewhat.
One can take a leisure stroll and soak up the atmosphere. Then look a little more carefully and you might find a gem among the junk. Perhaps a yellowed Shanghai cigarette advertisement? Or an original Beatles vinyl record? Don't rule it out.
You can hunt for old bric-a-brac or second-hand goods such as used clothing, mobile phones, motor parts, bicycles, electrical appliances, counterfeit watches and pirated VCDs, as a cheap replacement for one’s faulty or lost item.
Above is a pic of a seller trying to sell an old-fashioned phone model. "$7 only! Want or not?" is all the seller would say. He would also say "Don't worry, it's still in working condition. Just buy it, its so cheap!!"
Then suddenly, the bargaining turns into a banter party as the other stall-holders join in, "Don't buy his thing. They are all fake!" It's really a family atmosphere here. And I find it very charming. :-)
When i finally about to end my exploration at this 'Thieves Market', a man plough his heavily laden tricycle, zipping across a two-way traffic road, making his way to his plot. To him, its gonna be another day…another sale....
Why do people love this flea market? Even though it's hot, crowded, messy as hell and utterly noisy with music blaring from some dusty old stereos. But somehow there's a carnival atmosphere in the air, where prospective buyers are all eying the assorted wares spread out on mats and tarpaulin sheets. There's no organisation and since there's no license needed, the sellers are as diverse as the items on display - some will shrug and sell anything on their mat for mere cents, while others will quote ridiculous prices for a vintage clock.
But more importantly, there are vintage and bargain hunters out in droves, looking for rare items in the chaos. Armed with a fistful of dollars, interested buyers try out luck as treasure-hunters with the aim of finding five finds under S$5 dollars.
This, in my opinion, is the most enchanting flea market in Singapore!! :-)
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