Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Gosh, is this Sungei Road?


I HAVEN"T been back to Sungei Road since maybe two years back. I first knew the place as a child when my dad brought me there to shop for birds and baby rabbits. If my hazy memory of those days serves me right, small shops (probably the ground floor of old shophouses) lined the road. They all smelled of bird food (those cakes which you stick between the railings of the bird cage for the birds to peck at.) It was a good smell. Besides birds, they sold small animals too, such as baby rabbits.

There were a few occasions when we brought home a baby bunny in a brown paper bag. Though I liked the white ones better, with the pink eyes, we usually got the brown ones which were supposedly more robust then the white ones.

My dad nicknamed the street "cheuk jai kai" (Bird Street in Cantonese). And till now, I can never ascertain that it was Sungei Road. Will never be able to, I guess. There was a fire in the 1990s which wiped out the old pre-war shophouses. And as an MRT station is being built here, all vestiges of the old Sungei Road are gone though there are still a few vendors at Pitt Street and Kelantan Lane selling junk near the area.

While many "old timers" remember Sungei Road as the Robinsons of the poor (purportedly sold stolen goods from Robinsons dirt cheap -- besides a lot of second hand goods), it will always remain as "cheuk jai kai" to me.

Piit Street, off  Sungei Road. Postnote: The road bazaar will be gone by July 2017.
Sungei Road today. Water still not clean enough to swim in, but the surroundings are all spruced up.
Cannas lined the riverside near Jalan  Kubor.


8 comments:

streetsing said...

I checked with my elder brother and sis-in-law whether they remember "cheuk jai kai".
You are in luck, indeed the name sounded familiar to me and they remembered the place. It was where I thought it was not at Sungei road but at Rochore road. Just as I remembered and confirmed by my brother it was after the defunct 7-storey hotel, the stretch of shophouses at the junction of North Bridge road and Rochore road. Its now an empty space near Bugis MRT. The bird shops later closed to become coffin shops :)

Tienyin Lo said...

Wow, thank you very much for checking! At last I get confirmation that there was indeed a cheuk jai kai. And given the exact location even. You (and your elder bro) won't mind being quoted in my next post?:)

streetsing said...

Not at all, we are fellow blogger friends :)

streetsing said...

Just an add on, my bro says there were shops selling "咸酸甜" tidbits which the ladies like. I vaguely recalled it too, though I remembered more of the many toy shops in this area.

Tienyin Lo said...

I am not familiar with this tidbits. What are they and how do they look like? I don't remember the toy shops either. What sort of toys did they sell? ;)

streetsing said...

The toy shops mainly sold dolls, cars and my favourite toy soldiers whom I pestered my mum to buy. There were quite a number of them here in Siu Por (小坡), the toys chiefly made in Hong Kong which was the main toy manufacturer in this part of the world then.

The tidbits I vaguely recalled were like sour plums and the like, but I need to check with my brother for more info on this as I was a small boy then, while my bro was a young adult.

Tienyin Lo said...

Think i know those toy soldiers. They came in plastic packets. You tear off the top part, a piece of cardboard, and pour out the toy soldiers. These soldiers had little flat platforms so that they could stand.

Hmmm, those tidbits, maybe chan peh mui or kar heng ji...?

streetsing said...

Yes, you are right, I remembered my bro mentioning chan peh mui and kar heng ji indeed. I need to talk to him where exactly was this tidbit shop. If I don't remember wrongly it was opposite the bird shops.