marketplaces, “through the years”

Some weeks back, i visited the market at Baseco –

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This street looks and feels like the pasar malams (night markets) we have in Singapore. They sell pretty much the same stuff too, miscellaneous basic necessities such as cutlery, slippers, socks, nail clippers and the like.

Then, the wet market –

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We went in the afternoon, and many stalls were already closed for the day. The meat would have been laid out in the open, and the shopkeepers (or their children) would have been swatting flies using a stick with plastic strips tied on the end.

Most interestingly so, many of the stalls sell their items for use by the day, because the residents usually work in jobs that pay a daily pittance. Cooking oil is sold in finger-sized plastic bags, perhaps about 30ml worth, likewise sugar. Candies are sold singly, likewise biscuits. With the living conditions being as shockingly bad as they are, it was a bit too much to take in and was in fact quite numbing, but watching a child buy a single biscuit out of a tin really tugged at my heartstrings.

Earlier today, I chanced upon the Trieste Market during my morning ramble –

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My mum’s comment on the Baseco market: “like our markets from the 70s.”
My mum’s comment on the Roman market: “looks like Tiong Bahru market.”

Right. So, something as simple as the wet market marks Singapore’s development “from third world to first”…in terms of cleanliness and hygiene, of space demands, of choice of produce and its freshness. Certainly nothing as dramatic as the skyline, but speaks volumes about the rise in the standard of living nevertheless.

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