Experiencing a Pasar Malam in Terengganu

by Joseph Ellis on February 15, 2014

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We found ourselves in a riot of colours.  Lined across both sides of a street in Dungun some 20 minutes away by car from Tanjong Jara Resort is a long lane where street vendors gather to proudly display their wares. Tiny little shops neatly arranged selling colourful items for daily personal and household use. We stood for a moment in the jostling crowd to soak in the vibrant atmosphere of a Pasar Malam.

We had earlier decided to take a short break from sea gazing by heading off to experience a Pasar Malam. Now Pasar Malam’s are pretty popular in this part of the world. It literally means night market in Malay.  Quite simply put, a Pasar Malam is a street market that opens in the evening and continues into the night. They are usually located in residential neighborhoods in Malaysia. It has been ages since we shopped in one and so we decided that we simply had to experience one on this trip.

The narrow street was bustling with activity. People bargaining and selling stuff.

Clothes, watches, toys, vegetables, groceries, medicines, shoes and shiny ornaments were being sold for a song. The locals were making hard bargains on everything that was on offer while vendors called out to passerby’s to inspect their wares.

Bazaars have a life of their own and this was not our first trip to one. But we have usually gone shopping in bazaars that are open in the morning. A night market is interesting. It has a relaxing charm about it.  The shining lights, the colourful ambience, and the evening breeze fill you with an eagerness to go spend your day’s hard earned money to purchase things for a bargain.

It is in such places that if you pause for a moment you see the drama of life unfolding around you.  It’s the story of everyday people who try to make ends meet.  Everything is bargained for. Kids bargaining with their parents for toys, young girls trying to bargain at cosmetics and ornament shops, housewives with kids in tow bargaining at the vegetable vendors, men mulling over some tools or work shoes and vendors trying every trick in the book to make a sale. Everyone goes home happy.

The food at the Pasar Malam is a mouthwatering sight to behold and experience. We can’t describe in words what a delicious fare is on display. Perhaps the pictures we post here would tell their own story.

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A vendor frying fresh Keropok Lekor – a traditional fish snack. Will write on it later on

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Fruit vendors

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Mutton bones used to make traditional mutton soup called Sup Kambing in Malay

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An assortment of local dishes which can be purchased with steamed rice

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Fresh fried flat and yellow noodles for sale right from the wok

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Friendly locals selling assorted fried snacks

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These two sweet ladies had the best satay I have every tasted in Malaysia!

Tanjong Jara Resort is located at Batu 8, Off Jalan Dungun 23000 Dungun, Terengganu, Malaysia. The trip to the Dungun Night Market was organized by Tanjong Jara Resort. It departs every Thursday from the lobby at 7.30pm or 8.15pm. Cost: Approximately US$10 per person inclusive of return transfers. For more details on the other daily activities conducted by the resort, visit their official website.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather February 16, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Gorgeous photos – I can almost smell the food! I had a similar moment at a night market in Hanoi, Vietnam. I just stood still and watched the bustle around me – locals shopping and laughing, vendors selling balloons and snacks, motorcycles zipping through it all. I love travel memories like that!
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Joseph Ellis February 17, 2014 at 1:58 am

Thank you Heather, the food was seriously amazing and time just flew by at the night market. We felt so one with the shoppers. Could truly feel that we were absorbing the atmosphere around us.

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