Chance Encounter with the Lai Sisters.

One late evening I had decided to do a quick photowalk from lavender to the Sungei road thieves market to continue with my documentation for a photo project I had in mind.

This thieves market is Singapore’s oldest and largest rent-free hawking zone which has been around for more than 70 years after world war 2. Coming 2017, the market will be making way for a brand new Jalan Besar MRT Station with no plans for relocation. Already the size of the market was already greatly reduced in 2011 when Jalan Besar Road was diverted for the MRT construction.

As i came out from lavender mrt it was still raining cats and dogs, and i had initially thought that tonight might be a unproductive night as i was not able to capture anything interesting en route to the market. The market closes at 7pm so coming at a much later timing would be good for me to capture the series i have in mind.

Emptiness and serenity welcomes me as i entered market. little did i expected to hear someone asking me from behind “why are you still shooting at this time”? Surprised i turn backed and found one of the Lai sisters still soaking wet in her poncho looking at me. The Lai sisters have been selling bags and wallets there for more than 20-30 years and they were one of the most friendly folks to be found there peddling their ware. In fact i have seen them been interviewed on numerous occasion so i did not target to do any documenting of them. Drenched, they were actually forced to close late as it has been raining the whole day and they could not pack their goods properly. As it was getting late, they took my offer to help them push their goods back to their secret storage location. It was’t easy especially at their age.

This chance encounter with them have enriched my knowledge regarding the thieves market. Is it worth saving? Not many people would agree though. During the course of the journey back with them, i also got to know them better and hear more stories about the people of sungei road. My perspective have changed and i start to see the place in a better light. Now hopefully i have more time to document what’s left of the market. 

i will leave with you all with a few photos of my chance encounter with them. 

Stay Calm & keep on Shooting… 

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