It has been two weeks since the wet market near my house closed for repainting and my weekends are never the same.
I'm so used to walking down the hill on Saturday mornings to the busy market below. First I'll wander through the makeshift stalls set up by entreprising people selling fashionable imports from Hong Kong and S.Korea. If I'm lucky, I can find interesting tops at knocked down prices. That's where I can find really comfy socks for the kids too.
On weekends, the marketplace really comes to life. All the food stalls selling hot local delicacies open as early as 6am. Wonderful smells of bread and cake drift out from the many bakeries nearby. I get some hot breakfast for the kids before heading to the crowded market where people jostle about, picking fresh vegetables, seafood and meat from the stalls.
At the wet market, I'm spoilt for choice really. I can find prawns and shellfish in all sizes and species from the many stalls. I have my pick of the freshest fish, from salmon to leather jacket and Ikan Kurau at reasonable prices. Then I buy some fresh chicken breast from the stall where the auntie always has a smile and cooking tips for me.
My favourite stop is the vegetable stall operated by a polite young man. I always leave with a huge bag of leafy greens, Japanese sweet potato, cabbage, celery and fresh mushroom. He throws in a handful of chilli and spring onions for free.
If I have space in my tote bag, I stop by the fruit stall for some mangoes or whatever's in season. I keep my eyes peeled for lychee, longan or rambutans because they are our favourite fruits. Then I take a slow trot up the hill like a laden donkey.
Now you know why I miss the market so much. For the last two weeks, I've been buying groceries at the supermarket and it's not the same. The fresh seafood packed in little trays do not entice me, I end up buying frozen cod from the freezer. And there is only one kind of prawn, the grey and small kind squashed together in little packs. The leafy vegetables don't look quite as perky and fresh, I resort to buying beans and cabbage.
At the supermarket, I get distracted easily and buy all kinds of silly other things. I return home with too little fresh groceries because I don't see many things I like. Then I end up having to return to the supermarket again during the week.
I can't wait for the wet market to open again. Another 2 more weeks to go and my weekends will be normal again.