I usually do my grocery shopping at clean, air-conditioned hypermarkets like Tesco and Carrefour – so it has been some time since I went to a real wet market! :) Accompanied the mum to do some grocery shopping at 928 in Bandar Puteri, Puchong.
The markets I visited in the US and the UK are always well kept and neat – but they lack the boisterous, bustling charm of Asian wet markets. The floor is usually slick and wet with water, bits of discarded organs, pieces of vegetables and what not. Sellers will yell discounts at you while waving a fresh piece of squid in your face.
Sounds like a nightmare? I’ll admit that some markets are filthy, but 928 is actually pretty clean. The staff at the stalls are efficient and they wear aprons and gloves when handling meat and seafood. The place is also covered from the heat and rain, unlike street markets which are open by the side of the road and exposed to pollution and smog.
Visitors picking out their choice of seafood with baskets.
Forest of bananas.
Chinese New Year is around the corner and some unscrupulous traders have been jacking the price up of popular items; this stall not excluded. Mum wanted to buy salmon. Her eyes popped at the exorbitant prices. The trader just smiled and was like “Oh, since everyone is eating yee sang (it’s a traditional Chinese New Year dish with salmon slices in it)…” Well, we didn’t buy any, of course. Ridiculous. This is why some people prefer to shop at hypermarkets where the prices are more standard.
We have a saying in Chinese, “chan for da gip” (to rob someone when there’s a fire) – it means to take advantage of someone when they’re already suffering misfortune. While I understand that small traders probably don’t make as much as giant retail chains, one should not do business dishonestly.
CNY is just two weeks away! :) This year is the year of the Fire Monkey, according to the Chinese horoscope. Paper cuttings like this one used to be painstakingly done by hand by master crafters, but these days they can be easily made using machinery.
Prayer lanterns and other paraphernalia.
Bamboo plants tied with red strings are supposed to usher in good luck for the year.
This is the only time of the year you can find niangao (glutinous rice cakes). I like eating the ones that are fried with sweet potato, or shaped into balls and steamed with coconut shavings. Traditionally, they were included as offerings to the Kitchen God in Chinese Taoism belief. The Kitchen God is the one that presides over the home. The niangao, which is sticky, will prevent him from reporting on the family’s bad deeds to the Jade Emperor lol.
Saw these on sale! I loved them as a kid. Then there was this whole health scare about them containing formaldehyde and they pulled it off shelves.
I won’t be doing a lot of CNY shopping this year coz I’ll be spending it in Manila, Philippines! :) Still a lot of stuff to prepare. I haven’t even changed my currency yet.