Mobile Hawkers

It is interesting how seeing something triggers a whole bunch of flashbacks in my mind. As a kid growing up in the 70s in SG, I remember those early morning market trips with Ah Ma to the wet market that was just 5mins walk from our place. In those days, little 3 wheeled Suzuki vans were still quite common and some were food counters, mostly unmarked because as early as that, SG had already banned street hawking. These mobile hawkers had to be ready to run at the 1st sighting of the enforcement officers. Ah Ma have no qualms about patronizing them, and I like seeing them around too. As a result of regulations and growing prosperity where people were in demand to work the production lines, street hawkers declined in numbers and finally disappeared from the Singapore streets.

Sungai Rengit wet market, 5am - 8am only

Sungai Rengit wet market, 5am - 8am only

I have forgotten about them actually. With all that proporganda about hygiene and proper food preparation, I have also come to think of street food as unhealthy and probably very contaminated. .. a typical SG hippy youngster you might say.. … but actually I still do patronize street hawkers.. alot more than I realize or care to admit..

Whats that bluewagon? Its the Sg Rengit meat man.

Whats that bluewagon? Its the Sg Rengit meat man.

Since berthing our boats in Sebana, we have been making our weekly trips into our neighbouring Malaysia, driving past JB, KT and into Sebana. In the early days, we would always bring our food or ingredients from home, which we buy from the supermarkets.  We had no desire to buy streetfood or buy anything from their supermarkets… and we didnt know about their wet markets.

The meat man. Nice chap and speaks good English.

The meat man. Nice chap and speaks good English.

Until much later, some yachting neighbours told us about the early morning market. Urh.. do we really want to wake up at 6 and make it there by 630? And many other ugly images of dead fish, poultry and livestock came to my mind… typically young SGrean disdain..

.. but.. during 1 of our extended week stay at Sebana, we were out of fresh food and we know that the local supermarkets’ selection for anything fresh is just undescribly dissappointing.. Guess we just have to give the wet market a try.

sorry if this picture disturbs you...

sorry if this picture disturbs you...

Yes.. all that stinky smells hit my sleepy mind and boing! Urg! Slimy wet floors with fishscales floating around, fish guts everywhere! Groteques! .. but if you overlook that, you might find the freshess shrimps, squids and fishes around. Chicken, delivered to the market dead and featherless, are being chopped up.

Nobody sells beef around here.. and where do you buy pork? … From the man with the blue wagon! Never! … It took yet another few months and a craving for pork to make me yield to buying meat from a van… Cultural shock! and yes, we SGrean will succumb to anything for a good meal.

Honda bike with sidecar selling breakfast.

Honda bike with sidecar selling breakfast.

Yes, indeed. The porkmans pork were very good cuts and very fresh. Reasonably priced too. 1/3 the price from Fairprice in SG and no foam packaging that is so ungreen..

Sometimes we drive thru JB a little later.. like 0630hrs .. 🙂 We get to see the morning come alive with people crawling out of their little holes to go marketing at the very popular wet market in Tebrau City. We have been there too early at 0530hrs and only afew hawker stalls were open for business and plenty of rats were scrimpering around unwashed cement flooring littered with all sorts of garbage. A really disturbing sight. Rat city, Doug calls it. But the Roti was good.. 🙂 and I didnt get poisoning.. .. nah, I dont think I will go back there.

Deep fried flour that we call "You Tiao"

Deep fried flour that we call "You Tiao"

But there is alot at Rat City .. and I dont mind getting something from those mobile street vendors. At least they are outdoors and their stainless cooktop stalls look much cleaner.. and no rats running around their feet. In MY, street hawking is not illegal and these hawkers are possibly licensed to operate as they do, in vans, motorbikes, bicycles or makeshift cooktops. We did enjoy the cheap and good “You Tiao”… will try the carrot cake on our next visit.. 🙂 ..

I am hoping to find those corn hawkers.. I have a special fondness of that old corn taste that I had as a little kid. It was a kind of corn that was more flavorful and not sweet.. more chewy .. and each kernel was a little harder… that was 1 of my favorite snack… if anyone knows where I can find that, do let me know!


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Sailing 2015: Port Townsend(WA, US) -> Costes Island (BC, Canada)

Sailing 2013: Singapore -> Okinawa -> Kobe

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