The buzz at the wet market before Chinese New Year

Walking along Jalan Air Itam at this time of the year, i.e. few days before Chinese New Year takes a lot of guts. You need to watch out for human traffic, huge buses, motorbikes and at the same time, you cannot take your eyes away from those interesting stuffs they are selling.

fruit stalls

The fruits stall is doing brisk business because Chinese of the Taoist faith needs all kind of lucky fruits for their altars. In Penang, many tend to be more superstitious and they do a lot of elaborate stuffs and offer many things for good luck.

Tiny red pumpkin are auspicious because it sounds like gold melon (kim kua). Pomelo is popular with Cantonese. Some families bath with pomelo leaves before Chinese New Year to drive away the bad luck.

fruit stall

Pineapples are important because it means ‘luck is here’ or ong lai. The green funny looking melon is call the hor-lor and in Chinese mythology, they use it to store things like Alladin’s genie lamp. Sometimes, it is even used to catch the devil. Hehehe.

dried seafoods stall

There are so many things sold at the wet market. It is good to buy things from these veteran stall holders because they usually know their stuffs well. They can teach how how to prepare a certain dish, how to enhance your food tastes with the things they sell and normally, they are rather honest because they are selling things there for years and will not risk their stall reputation. The above is a stall selling dried seafoods such as dried squids, dried shrimps, dried fish maw, dried oysters and etc.


Before you brave the crowd, sit down for some nice breakfast first. The above were our breakfast. It consists of chee cheong fun, char koay kark and koay teow thng. Once your stomach is filled, hit the road and mingle with the locals. Most of these stall owners are very friendly and they will ask you to take pictures of their stalls. They know that it may go up on the internet because some of them knows the power of the blog. I told them, “Wa eh blok, New York Times pun oo weh.” Hahaha.

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Post Author: lilian

Used to be PenangFaces, now known as Food Haven, for all oink-oink foods

6 thoughts on “The buzz at the wet market before Chinese New Year


    (January 24, 2009 - 1:20 am)

    penang is a food heaven. Ive been to penang twice, and i loved the food there! omg…. i cant stop thinking of it now.


    (January 24, 2009 - 9:21 am)

    hi lilian…i just came back from the pulau tikus market to get some last minute things…the place packed like siao!! (i think all markets now also like packed sardines) lol

    keong hee huat chai to you and your family!


    (January 24, 2009 - 5:23 pm)

    I had a short food trip this morning around Penang and all the places were so packed! jam every corner that as wet market.

    Keong Hi Huat Chai to you and your family 😀

    gill gill

    (January 24, 2009 - 11:10 pm)

    i hardly squids in the auntie’s crowd to get varies type of fishballs for reunion steamboat this morning! packed like hell, like in the battle….kia su

    Gong Xi Fa Cai!

    The Real Mother Hen

    (January 27, 2009 - 5:38 am)

    Keong He Huat Chai.

    I do remember that during the CNY, every kopitiam is shut and the street is quiet, except for the “tong-tong-tong-chang” lion dance teams traveling around on lorries.

    The last time I celebrated CNY in Penang was almost 20 years ago. And I suddenly miss “lam mee”. How time flies.


    (February 1, 2009 - 1:28 am)

    very beautiful pics, something very malaysian which you’ve captured. and on friendly hawkers, i agree. ive met some as well (in malacca) and they say, take, take – take my signboard too! haha 🙂

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