My mother recently said, “There seems to be an endless list of things to do in Singapore.” Isn’t that the truth! The more we are living in Singapore, the more I am thankful that we have a three year contract (and not two like so many others). Even every day activities seem like “things to do” here in Singapore, just because they are different.
One of the every day things to do on my imaginary list, was to visit a wet market in action. Wet markets are basically outdoor grocery stores in the form of smaller stalls manned by locals. Stalls come in all varieties – from veggie stalls, to chicken, pork, fish, fruit,… practically any specialty! There are even florist stalls! Sometimes these markets are under HDBs, but more often they are in a market area right near a conglomeration of hawker stalls. Normally these wet markets are only open during the morning hours (although some produce stalls are open later in the day as well).
visiting shopping at a wet market has been on my list of things to do. I guess I have gotten in the habit of using one grocery store to meat the vast majority of our grocery needs. Consequently, I haven’t considered changing up my grocery shopping happen. If I think about it and I’m honest, I’ve been nervous about trying to visit a wet market. I know it sounds silly, but it’s true. I’d rather go to my tried-and-true grocery store where I know where everything is, I know how much things cost, and I can just the self-checkout.
My dear friend was recently recounting her experiences going to the wet market. Her stories didn’t sound so scarry; maybe I had no reason to be nervous. She offered for me to come along with her the next time she went to the wet market. Yesterday we set up a time – TODAY – to go to the wet market.
Today dawned. Andrew woke up and promptly checked the weather forecast before proceeding to get ready for bicycling to work. The forecast promoted cloudy skies, and the radar insisted a blank slate. A few minutes before he walked out the door with his bike, it started pouring. He rechecked the weather forecast. Now it was calling for rain, and the radar showed a thick storm… only over our town that came literally out of no-where. It just appeared right over us. Thank you Singapore for having very unpredictable weather and seemingly no weather patterns. Oh well. Scrap the bicycle idea. Andrew walked and took the bus to work instead of his original plan. Later he informed me that his pants were soaked from his short walk to the bus, and that it was the afternoon before his socks dried out! All this is to say that this morning was WET.
Hearing of Andrew’s less-than-dry travels and watching the rain pound everything outside – my friend and I decided we would take a “rain check” and save the “wet” market for a dryer day.
However, 30 minutes later the pouring rain had slowed down to a soft, steady rain. We changed our minds and decided to head for the wet market anyways despite the wet weather.
We met up at our agreed upon meeting place and got started. I trailed my friend as she targeted certain stalls. I was very grateful I had come with someone that could speak Chinese. I am sure I could’ve gotten by using English, but it was nice to not have to try to go down that rout. In a wet market, there are no prices. Well, there are, you just don’t know what they are…. that is unless you ask. So you either go ahead and buy something assuming it is a good price, OR you ask what the price of each and every item that you’re interested in. I went with the first method. I’m sure as you frequented the wet market and got used to certain stalls you would know who has good prices on what… but for a beginner like me, I was just happy to be trying a new experience, even if I ended up with food that wasn’t the best bargain.
First was the vegetable stalls. I bought a cucumber, a bunch of tomatoes, sugar snap peas (my favorite!), a green pepper, carrots… for a total of $4.00! Oh, and the stall owner threw in a yellow pepper that had some imperfections for free. Sweet! 🙂 All in all, the vegetables turned out to be less expensive than a comparable purchase from the grocery store.
Next was protein. We perused the chicken stalls, the fish stalls, and the pork stalls. My friend ended up getting some salmon. It looked tasty, but I thought I could try something else and probably get a cheaper fish. I picked a nice fish at random and asked for 2 fillets. As the stall owner weighed and bagged by “purchase” he stated the amount. My friend and I were shocked – it was a good twice the price of the salmon. With my friend’s encouragement I informed the shop owner I’d rather have salmon. I got a large fillet (that really was too much for two people for one meal, but now I know better) for $11. Not so bad. Though, now I know to ask for the price of the fish before I pick at random!
We walked through the rest of the market, but I wasn’t in need of any fruits, I still had some left from my last grocery trip.
And the other day Andrew got me flowers that are now still quite in full bloom, so need for that stall.
Done with my trip, my friend graciously accepted babysitting duty of my groceries so that I could head straight to work. I picked up the food later. The rest of the morning continued to be a wet day, but a good day. Class went well, and Bible study was great too! As I headed back home I swung by my friends house to pick up the groceries.
Once home, I decided to use some of new purchases to make dinner. I roasted some of the tomatoes in the oven with the salmon, and the sugar snap peas I steamed over the rice in the rice maker.
Not so bad for results of my first wet-market experience.