It is truly amazing how our country made it to what it is today. From a third-world country to this bustling metropolis we call home, the journey certainly hadn’t been easy but here we are many decades later—still a little red dot but making an impact on the world.
We really have our forefathers to thank for everything we have today; they toiled hard and contributed greatly to our country. In the past, there were careers that are unheard of by the younger generations today—such as the Samsui women and letter writers.
Today, there are still a few old trades that can be found in Singapore that are worth learning more about. With no successors, these old trades face the threat of extinction and along with them, the culture and skills as well.
Before they vanish for good, here are 9 Old Trades In Singapore You Should Explore Before They Vanish With Time.
OLD-SCHOOL CONFECTIONERIES/ BAKERIES
Before BreadTalk and Four Leaves, there were neighbourhood bakeries and confectioneries that specialise in traditional snacks. Even with all the craze about customised cakes and over-the-top dessert tables, there are times when we just want to indulge in a simple sponge cake or sugar doughnut.
Where you can find it now: Jie Traditional Bakery, Love Confectionery
Since young, we were always pretty damn amazed whenever a fortune teller could predict something accurately. How did they even know all that stuff…?
Where you can find it now: Holland Village
KACANG PUTEH SELLER
Buying snacks used to be a fun thing—the friendly Kacang Puteh seller will push his mobile cart out and both kids and adults alike wait impatiently for him to fill up a paper cone with treats. Some mouthwatering snacks are sugar-coated nuts, cashew nuts and muruku.
Where you can find it now: Outside Peace Centre
OLD COFFEE ROASTING FACTORIES
It is a pity to watch the craft of roasting coffee traditionally fade out as modern factories take over with high tech machines.For those who have yet to experience first hand how coffee is roasted in the past, a trip to one of the few remaining traditional coffee powder factories will teleport you to old Singapore.
Where you can find it now: Ho Tit Coffee Powder Factory, Lam Yeo Coffee Powder
The magic of a mama shop is that you can ANYTHING in it. Household items, groceries, stationeries and snacks—the things you can find there are endless. Items are always on the cheaper end as compared to supermarkets and they are always located on the first floor of residential buildings.
Where you can find it now: HDB blocks
Whether you’re in desperate need to get a broken sole replaced, or not, old-school street cobblers are definitely one of the oldest trades that you can still find pretty rampant today—especially so in areas like the CBD or outside busy train stations.
Where you can find it now: Outside Holland Village MRT Station
MOBILE ICE CREAM CARTS
Artisanal ice creams are all the rage now, but who can deny that push-cart style ice cream are just the best (and cheapest) treats around? At only S$1.20, you can choose to have multiple flavours or go for favourites such as Raspberry Ripple and Peppermint Chocolate Chip. We love having our ice cream sandwiched between rainbow-coloured bread!
Where you can find it now: Orchard Road
We have bumboat operators to thank for our smooth journeys to Pulau Ubin from Changi Village. For now, the operators are made up of elderly uncles and there are not many youngsters who are willing to work in this trade.
Where you can find it now: Changi Village, Clarke Quay
Hands up if you know the Karang Guni jingle! Locals will definitely know when a Karang Guni is at their doorstep just by the honking of the horn and the unmistakable “Karang Guni!” cry. This old profession is physically draining as they have to carry stacks of newspapers and unwanted gadgets.
Where you can find it now: You don’t find them; they find you.