Pasar Karat: Jonker Street Melaka’s Antique Collector’s Market

The term ‘Flea Market’ comes from the French marché aux puces” or “market of the fleas”, as it was believed that old furniture or items such as clothing, often sold at these bazaars, supposedly contained fleas. In Malaysia, we call our flea markets ‘pasar karat’, or ‘rusty market’ – because people often sold off their scrap metal for a cheap price, and metal rusts, hence ‘karat’. Despite the name, you can get all sorts of things at a pasar karat, ranging from antiques to vintage items, souvenirs, second-hand clothing to furniture. One man’s trash is indeed another man’s treasure!

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The Pasar Karat at Jalan Lekir (just off Jonker Street) in Melaka is open from 9AM to 3PM on Saturdays and Sundays. If you’re in town over the weekend, this is a great place to check out ! The items on sale are mostly antiques and vintage stuff like coins, vinyl discs, old photographs, cassettes and VHS tapes, bowls and plates, home decorations, ornamental weapons and more.

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Even if you aren’t buying, it’s nice to see the old items on display, like these mini grandfather clocks, tea sets and classic rotary dial phones(remember those?). Feels kind of like an open-air street museum!

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Hand-drawn and coloured postcard-sized paintings!

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You can buy ornamental weaponry such as keris blades. Or perhaps you fancy an abacus or an old charcoal iron?

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I was surprised to see some vintage posters of Chinese-communist propaganda on display as well.

The Pasar Karat at Jalan Hang Lekir is open from 9AM to 3PM on Saturdays and Sundays.

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Exploring Karon, Phuket After Sundown

Some cultures might find it disrespectful to have a market selling food / knick knacks / random items at a holy site. Not in Phuket though! Held on Tuesdays and Fridays, the Karon Temple Night Market is located within Wat Suwan Khiri Khet at Karon, and is a great place to explore if you’re looking to immerse yourself in the local culture and nab yourself some tasty street food, snacks and souvenirs.

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The temple itself is beautiful, with a main shrine sitting on an elevated platform, guarded by two nagas (mythical serpents). The architecture is distinctively Thai, featuring a tiered roof and intricately carved golden motifs.

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The market offers visitors a bit of everything – from trinkets and cheap T-shirts to handmade crafts and souvenirs, such as these lovely soap carvings. There were also many stalls selling snacks and local products, such as coffee, biscuits and other snacks. There’s also a food section with both halal and non-halal food options. If you’ve never been to a night market in Southeast Asia, then definitely visit to experience the sights, smells and sounds !

 

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An assortment of snacks on skewers – fishballs, hotdogs, meat balls, crab meat sticks, dunked into a sweet and spicy hot sauce. There’s also pad thai fresh from the wok, and local favourites such as stuffed squid, barbecued moo ping (pork on skewers – a must try!), sausages stuffed with glutinous rice, mango sticky rice, fried oyster omelettes and many more.

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We found a stall selling fried insects and decided to give it a try. We got the mix (50 baht) of three: crickets, grasshoppers and silkworms. They also had scorpion but these were pricey at 200 baht each (about RM27).

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I think the hardest part about eating something ‘exotic’ is that your brain simply isn’t used to it. I remember eating balut (duck embryo) for the first time and was grossed out by the fact that it had feathers on – I felt like gagging when I bit into it – but once it was in my mouth it didn’t taste bad at all lol. 😀

The same thing with these fried insects: my first instinct was to gag, but after popping one in, it didn’t taste all that bad. The texture was very similar to eating small, crispy fried fish, like whitebait. There wasn’t much flavour except for salt and whatever spices the insects had been tossed in. I actually preferred the silkworms because they had a slightly chewy skin and a little bit of mushiness on the inside.

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After exploring the market, head on out to the streets of Karon, which are lined with plenty of restaurants and bars, as well as massage and beauty parlours.

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Walked all the way to the roundabout to see the gorgeous sunset.

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Back to the beach in front of our hotel, there was a game of volleyball going on between locals and some foreign visitors.

While Karon is not as ‘happening’ as Patong, it’s a nice place for families and those who aren’t part of the party crowd. Consider booking a stay in the area if you prefer a more subdued, relaxing atmosphere.

Kanazawa Attractions: Fresh Seafood at Omi-Cho Market

Markets are one of the best places to experience the local way of life, and Omicho in Kanazawa is no exception. The bustling, colourful hub is the largest in the city and its oldest, dating back to the Edo era. Its modern form may be a far cry from how it originally looked like – but as you stroll through its neat layout, it’s not difficult to imagine traders in traditional costumes hawking their produce and wares to prospective buyers. Today, there are about 200 stalls selling everything from fruits to vegetables, kitchenware, clothing and more. Of course, being by the sea, Kanazawa is renowned for its fresh seafood, found at every corner of the market.

 

One of the entrances to Omicho.

Like everywhere else in Japan, the market is exceedingly clean. Spacious walkways are flanked by stalls, with goods laid out in an inviting display. The place is busiest in the mornings, but there was a fair number of visitors as well during our visit in the afternoon.

Every colour looked exceedingly vivid. Displays are made to look as attractive as possible – no rotting or less-than-satisfactory fruits/veges would have made the cut. This is quite a contrast with some wet markets in Southeast Asia (or maybe just in Malaysia lol)  where you’d find a bunch of wilted greens piled unceremoniously in a dirty-looking wicker basket in a corner.

The seafood selection is nothing short of impressive. Fancy some hairy crabs for 13000 yen (RM480)?

Why wait til you’re home to savour the seafood? Have it on the spot, like this group of youths who picked out their favourites and chowed down with some soy sauce and condiments. Can’t get fresher than that!

A worker shucking some giant oysters.

 Assorted shellfish and squid.

There are several restaurants within the vicinity. To attract customers, they sometimes put their ‘catch of the day’ on display, like this one which had a giant tuna head on ice.

One of these days I’d love to witness the auction process at the Tokyo market.

  Had a nice unagi on skewer fresh off the grill!

GETTING THERE

Take a bus from stops 6,7,8 or 9 at Kanazawa Station East Gate Bus Terminal and alight at Musashigatsuji. Alternatively, the Kanazawa Loop Bus (Left Loop) also takes you there, alighting at stop 7. Tickets are 200 yen for single fare.

Opening hours: 8AM – 6PM (shop hours may vary)

Closed (varies from shop to shop), but usually Wednesdays and Sundays, as well as public holidays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheap Produce and Petai for 200 Baht! @ Betong Central Market, Thailand

Time to bid adieu to Betong! Our weekend excursion to this Thai border town was well spent and exceeded my expectations.

Before leaving, make sure to stop by Betong Central Market for some souvenirs and cheap produce. The town has a large and well-maintained market, divided into wet (veggies, fish, meat, etc.) and dry (snacks, dried goods, clothes) areas.

What’s good: A popular local product is petai (stinkbeans), which you will find being sold in bunches (above), or nicely sealed in 1kg packets for 200baht (Rm26). That’s a lot of petai! (Cooked them at home, they were really nice and big. Although the whole house stank to high heaven afterwards)

Woven rattan baskets in various colours.

Walked around the neighbourhood, observing the locals go about their daily routines. Freshly steamed pau cooked right on the pavement sounds like a great way to kickstart the morning!

How most typical shops look like in Betong. Like Malaysia, there is also a ‘five-foot walkway’ at the front.

Interesting name.

Toy seller rearranging his toys on a motorised cart.

Betong has been a fun trip, although I was initially (very) skeptical of going. For those of you who are like me before, wondering what there is to do in a small border town, I suggest a visit to see for yourself.

Travel Blog: Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur – Once Upon A Chinatown

You’re probably wondering why I chose to call it ‘once upon’, like it’s not anymore.

Well, that’s because it’s not. Not really.

Tourists may know it as Kuala Lumpur’s ‘Chinatown’, but the truth is that Petaling Street has long ceased to be one. The grand archway may have tiny red lanterns and a curved green-tiled rooftop, but the authenticity of the place ends there; having made way for a cheap flea-market-esque atmosphere. Bangladeshis, Myanmarese, Indian nationals, etc., are employed by Chinese bosses to peddle their wares. Some of the food stalls are still manned by the Chinese, but even these are slowly being replaced by foreign labour.

I’m not saying its a bad thing per se – many of Chinatown’s businesspeople have worked hard over the years and they deserve to enjoy the fruits of their labour in their twilight years, since many youngsters no longer want to continue the fam biz – but it is still sad all the same that this once glorious Chinatown’s culture and spirit have been eroded in favour of commercialisation.

Listen to me rambling! That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t drop by Petaling Street – there’s plenty to see and do if bargaining and shopping for (overpriced lol)ripoffs are your thing. And the place does have a rich history. You just have to dig a little deeper.

Before Kuala Lumpur became the metropolis it is today, it was just another muddy ol’ spot with rich tin deposits. Seeking riches, the Chinese (mostly Hokkien and Hakka clansmen) came to work as coolies in the tin mines in the late 1800s. They were governed by Kapitan Yap Ah Loy, a rich Chinese businessman and prominent figure in the early founding days of KL. It was around this time that Chinatown was founded, playing host to tradesmen, farmers, restaurants and other businesses. If you go hunting around, you might still find some hidden gems like the Yook Woo Hin dim sum restaurant, which was founded in 1928 !

Lots of stalls set up all along the pedestrian pathways sell ‘bargain’ bags, clothes, toys, handphone accessories, etc.

This shop that sold fancy fidget spinners for RM15 uncle nei mou hui cheong

For me, the only authentic part of Petaling Street left are the food shops, which sell various local and Chinese favourites, like pastries, biscuits and baked buns. There is, of course, the famous air mata kucing shop (literally cat’s eye tears) which is a blend of monk’s fruit juice with longan.

Stalls selling bakchang (glutinous rice dumplings) for the Mid Autumn Festival.

An old uncle still making a living from his pushcart selling ‘dai gau meen’ (big face dough?) or apam balik, filled with bits of peanut and sweet corn.

Fresh sugar cane juice and coconuts.

So is Petaling Street worth a visit?

If you’re a first timer to KL, the place is within close proximity to all the attractions like Pasar Seni (Central Market) and Kasturi Walk (similar concept to Chinatown, but with more Malay traders). Bargain hunters or people who like to shop for cheap imitations might find a few gems here, that or food hunters, might also find the place good for a visit. If you’re looking for a slice of Chinese culture though, you’re better off looking elsewhere.

Opening hours: 10AM – late

Getting There 

Convenient if you’re taking the train; just alight at Pasar Seni LRT. Petaling Street is about 5 minutes walk away (next to Central Market).

Also read my other Chinatown experiences in: 

Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia 

Singapore

Los Angeles, California 

San Francisco, California 

Binondo, Manila