Yue Shin Siang Medical Hall


[View in HD here.]

We’re sure that many of us still have vivid mem­o­ries of the var­i­ous bit­ter con­coc­tions that our moth­ers would brew, for long hours, when­ev­er we were sick. Despite our fran­tic attempts to brush off and rebuff their advances, we would even­tu­al­ly give in and be cajoled into down­ing that nasty-tast­ing mix­ture. More often than not, we would recov­er soon enough. Per­haps it’s the awful taste or the lack of sci­en­tif­ic endorse­ment, but as we grew up, we start­ed to drift fur­ther and fur­ther away from tra­di­tion­al Chi­nese med­i­cine, pre­fer­ring to put our trust in the “tasti­er” and seem­ing­ly more effi­cient West­ern med­i­cine instead.

Yue Shin Siang Medical Hall

Yue Shin Siang Medical Hall

Chanc­ing upon this tra­di­tion­al Chi­nese med­i­cine hall in, you guessed it, Chi­na­town, the Redis­cov­er crew could not resist drop­ping by to relive some of that nos­tal­gia, that her­by smell we all grew rather afraid of since child­hood. The own­ers were kind enough to let us take some pho­tos, get some footage, and answer some ques­tions. Yue Shin Siang Med­ical Hall is locat­ed along Upper Cross Street, just oppo­site the Civ­il Court. The Ng fam­i­ly has been run­ning the med­ical hall, and accord­ing to them, the fam­i­ly busi­ness has spanned over three gen­er­a­tions!

Yue Shin Siang Medical Hall

Yue Shin Siang Medical Hall

Yue Shin Siang Medical Hall

IMG_4451

Dur­ing our time there, we observed that this tra­di­tion­al med­ical hall was still very much a busy hub of activ­i­ty. The Ng fam­i­ly was con­stant­ly kept busy behind the counter, talk­ing to us in snatch­es but pri­mar­i­ly lis­ten­ing care­ful­ly to the symp­toms each cus­tomer described. They would then pro­ceed to pick out dif­fer­ent herbs from the rows of seem­ing­ly infi­nite draw­ers and jars; mea­sur­ing them with pre­ci­sion using scales that looked like relics and wrap­ping them in lit­tle pink pack­ages. It was fas­ci­nat­ing to watch as the whole process felt almost like a scene from a Har­ry Pot­ter movie, wiz­ards in an apothe­cary mea­sur­ing out recipes for mag­ic con­coc­tions; except that this was real, and the con­coc­tions real­ly worked. A steady stream of cus­tomers flowed in and out of the busy hall, many of whom were reg­u­lars. Mr Ng explained that over the years, they had built a loy­al cus­tomer base through a reli­able, ser­vice-ori­ent­ed approach.

Yue Shin Siang Medical Hall

Yue Shin Siang Medical Hall

Although Mr Ng not­ed that the med­ical hall indeed sees some younger cus­tomers, he was quick to add that their trade is one that is fast dis­ap­pear­ing from west­ern­ized Sin­ga­pore­an soci­ety. Sad­ly, tra­di­tion­al Chi­nese med­i­cine is some­thing that the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion of Sin­ga­pore­ans have lost touch with, as many of us would much rather not go through the tedious has­sle of prepar­ing and brew­ing these med­i­cines, pre­fer­ring instead the more eas­i­ly avail­able and con­ve­nient West­ern alter­na­tives. He too men­tioned that while West­ern med­i­cine pro­vid­ed a ‘quick-fix’ and fair­ly imme­di­ate solu­tion to vis­i­ble symp­toms, Chi­nese med­i­cine took a slow­er but more thor­ough approach towards bal­anc­ing out the entire body, and offers a long-term cure rather than a short-term solu­tion.

Yue Shin Siang Medical Hall

Yue Shin Siang Medical Hall

The next time you find your­self still not recov­er­ing from that nig­gling sick­ness even after tak­ing West­ern med­ica­tion, why not head down to your neighborhood’s tra­di­tion­al Chi­nese med­ical hall for an alter­na­tive solu­tion instead? The many secrets of this old trade, hand­ed down through gen­er­a­tions, may just offer you a solu­tion that the sci­ence of West­ern med­i­cine can­not.

More pho­tos on our Flickr page here.

Yue Shin Siang Med­ical Hall
#01–154, 34 Up Cross St, Sin­ga­pore 058340
Tel: 65334915


Text by Song Lim. Pho­tog­ra­phy by Lizzy Lee. Video edit­ed by Derek Foo.


2 Comments

  • Kyle Leung

    April 2, 2011

    This is bril­liant, qual­i­ty reportage. I was able to real­ly con­nect emo­tion­al­ly with the sub­ject.

    Reply
  • theanalogdork

    April 18, 2011

    Love the cap­tions that come with the bril­liant­ly pho­tographed pic­tures.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.