October 09, 2007

Street peddlers

This man was peddling some chinese medicinal product at the courtyard in front of the People's Park Complex Food Centre (next to OG departmental store) on Saturday evening.

I remember when I was young this was quite a common sight. Some of these peddlers were dressed in kung-fu attire. To attract attention, they would perform kung-fu feats. Another common show was playing with snakes. Sometimes they also beat the gong to make noise. Many of them displayed certificates, trophies and photos of themselves with celebrities or performing great feats.

Last Saturday, the man did some tricks like making a short piece of rope become stiff. He had a few fake snakes on the ground. I am not sure if he had any live ones. I stayed for about 5 minutes; he was talking about snakes. I didn't wait to see what medicinal product he was selling.


Victor said...

>he was talking about snakes. I didn't wait to see what medicinal product he was selling.

Er... snake oil, perhaps? Only joking, of course. Most of these street vendors sold some kind of traditional Chinese medicine or oil, the efficacy of which was highly questionable. (And this statement is not a joke.)

I remember such scenes were very common in the daily night market in Albert Street (the part that is now called New Bugis Street) in the 1960s. Using 2 wooden sticks joined at the ends by a 6-foot string, one of them would play with a giant wooden reel that made a loud "whoo-ing" sound when it spun at high speed. Then once a while, he would hurl the reel up several storeys high in the air, only to catch it safely with the string when it descended, still spinning at high speed. It was quite a spectacle. The best part was that the show was free.

Anonymous said...

Looks spectacular, I've not seen this before.

Could be snake oil too. But of course sometimes the snakes are used just to attract people.