Last week I went for a walk around the old neighbourhood in Little India, to take a better picture of a new sign of the Yangtze Scribbler which I had seen on National Day. I found two new signs along the grimy shophouse pillars of Jalan Besar, a main road with heavy traffic all day long – whilst doing my normal survey of the area. I also tried asking (chinese-speaking) people around the area if they knew anything about it, but so far no joy. Whilst I was there I also had a walk about to see if any other new signs of the Yangtze Scribbler had appeared closer to Victoria Street and Sungei Road, and had a series of very interesting finds……….
We’ll start small with the basic things that one always sees in the areas. There are many many numbers in the urban landscape. Numbers like these are ubiquitous in the area, especially on the shop houses along Jalan Besar.
These look like bloody fingerstains. Hrmmmmmmm.
This tiny paper sign which has been adhered to the pillar next to the bus stop on Jalan Besar Road (opposite Veerasamy Rd) reads: “Every night big gambling going on at bangkit road blk 259 in front 7-11 outlet. So far no action taken by the police. Is jurong police commander took bribe? SO NO ACTION TAKEN”. It is slightly strange for someone to make a complaint about Bangkit Road (ostensibly on the other side of the island, near bukit gombak) along a pillar on Jalan Besar (central). I’ve typed it out so it can be googled by others.
There are a lot of crack monitors to track the horizontal and vertical movements of cracks on civil engineering structures. Again, many many numbers, for their own tracking purposes.
And the reason for the need for all the crack monitors is the intensive construction work going on for the new downtown train line and the rehabilitation of Rochor Canal which has resulted in huge modification to the roads. In addition to that, a lot of drainage and PUB works have been conducted in the vicinity, resulting in some cracks appearing in many shophouses, many of which have had to be fitted with structural supports just in case.
More construction and road diversions on Jalan Besar
It was a hot afternoon, and everyone was hiding in the shade. I was determined to comb through the area thoroughly so as to be certain that I hadn’t missed out another sign from the scribbler…
Items hiding in the shade next to Sungei Road Market. A lot of people have started moving closer and closer to Jalan Besar and the housing block next to it, due to the reduction of space at Sungei Road Market. There are many of these carts along the road and sometimes even in the open sun.
On Hindoo Road, a new private security firm “Securitas” has erected a tiny shed next to a newly erected automatic carpark gantry. It leads to the multistorey carpark on Hindoo Road. I found this to be quite strange, as it means cars cannot pass through Hindoo Road anymore, without paying a carpark fee! I find that pretty annoying – I don’t mind if they erect a carpark gantry in front of the carpark entrance, but to erect it at the START of Hindoo Road – is that even legal?
When I was driving I would make the little turn into Hindoo to make a U-turn around the block, because Rowell is a one-way road so in order to turn into Rowell, one needs to make a turn in from Jalan Besar down either Hindoo (one-way, but opposite way from Rowell) or Veerasamy (two-way), and turn at Kampong Kapor and turn back into Rowell Road from the other end. Sure I could make the turn from Veerasamy but how is it that one can charge for the use of a road, just because it also leads down to the carpark?
What I eventually reached was this backlane between Rowell, Hindoo, and Jalan Besar, a shortcut I have taken countless times now. This is where an old chinese man sits and stacks up stuff. I could dedicate an entire post to pictures of what he has been doing over the last two years, I’ve taken loads and loads of pictures of what new things he’s stacked up every other day. He’s like an eccentric found-object artist putting together dioramas from scrap items in the area. Han told me he is actually not a homeless man, although he is frequently seen wandering around without shoes or shirt on the backlane. He’s apparently a very lively, energetic and slightly eccentric old chinese man who lives in the HDB block on Rowell Road, and is sometimes being chased by his family’s maid…
It was also another one of those moments where looking behind a box with a tiny crawlspace paid off. I’ve developed the habit of sometimes looking behind electrical boxes, especially in tight corners, because people do write stuff there. Lo and behold, there was this innocuous looking box, all clean and new from the front…
After seeing this, I also noticed there were MORE NUMBERS on the traffic sign posts in the area!
I ran up and down the road and realised they were on every traffic post!!!
I did not meet the old man of the road to ask if he was the one writing it, but suffice to say the person writing this is probably chinese and a bit older because of the use of traditional chinese script. It could very well be him. The writings mainly seem to be about dates and money. I’ll type it out and add the transcriptions to this post later. In the meantime, I’m open to people’s interpretations of what these are all about…
After my talk on wednesday at Fork, Dan suggested I check out if the Yangtze Scribbler’s numbers 160 / 95 / 55 or 160 / 95 / 58 were related to bus numbers. So I duly investigated it. Sadly there are no overlaps in the routes for the buses with those numbers, although I was initially excited to hear that 160 did start from Malaysia. 160 does not come to the terminal at Queen Street though.
Nevertheless, here are some screencaps of the map for each of the routes, using Busrouter-sg:
May 2013 – Yangtze Scribbler on Victoria Street
June 2012 – Yangtze Scribbler on Queen Street
April 2012 – Looking for the Yangtze Scribbler
Mar 2012 – Yangtze Scribbler on Victoria Lane
Flickr Set: More images of the Yangtze Scribbler
Singapore Memory Project Showcase – Tan Pin Pin’s short on the Yangtze Scribbler