The Thursday Day Bazaar of Ulu Tiram (A Wholesalers’ Mart)

Window shopping, Thursday-Day-Bazaar style. (@all rights reserved)

The Thursday Day Bazaar of Ulu Tiram is basically a wholesalers’ mart. In saying that, it does not mean that they do not cater to the ordinary retail buyers.

On the contrary, the retail market makes up the majority of those who throng the bazaar, always on the look out for something new something nice but at an affordable price.

The bazaar is held, as the name indicates, every Thursday morning at Km 18, Jalan Kg Sg Tiram, the trunk road that connects Ulu Tiram to the port town of Pasir Gudang.

Every Thursday morning, without fail. So far that is.

Stall offering ready-cut pieces of cloth for making the traditional Malay dress, the Baju Kurung. (@all rights reserved)
Stall offering ready-cut pieces of cloth for making the traditional Malay dress, the Baju Kurung. (@all rights reserved)

Some also refer to the bazaar as Pasar Champa (or literally, the Champa Market), in reference to the early days of the bazaar when the traders were mainly made up of traders of Champa descent, who emigrated from Cambodia in the days when Pol Pot and his gang ran down that country and in the process, sealed his passport to despotism.

Some ready-made dresses on offer at reasonable prices. (@all rights reserved)
Some ready-made dresses on offer at reasonable prices. (@all rights reserved)

Today, the traders come from far and wide with some as far as Kelantan and some from Southern Thailand. For these traders, the day may start as early as 4am and end late in the afternoon, as they set up their makeshift stalls, unpack their wares and at the end of the day, re-pack them in their transport vehicles and make their way to their next destination, wherever that may be.

Getting into conversation with some of them, it does make one wonder as to these traders’ lifestyle, as they make their way from one location to another, setting up shop at maybe at one or two bazaars in a day (and night), 6-7 days a week.

Stall offering Muslim clothing including the Hijab and dresses. (@ all rights reserved)
Stall offering Muslim clothing including the Hijab and dresses. (@ all rights reserved)

For the uninitiated, it may sound fun but for these traders, its routine for them and as they have regular customers, they don’t mind the routine as these regulars, over time, turned into friends.

Meeting friends and of course, the lure of the sale or sales, more like it.

For many who are not familiar with Ulu Tiram, don’t fret for Ulu Tiram is one of those towns that passes you by as you make your way, in this case, to the historical town of Kota Tinggi.

However, in this case, instead of getting on the flyover and giving the town of Ulu Tiram a pass, one should stay on the left and at the traffic lights, make a right turn.

Sorting out the many items on offer. (@all rights reserved)
Sorting out the many items on offer. (@all rights reserved)

You are on the right path when you see a commercial bank by the corner of the road on your right as you make the turn.

The journey from THAT junction to the site where the Thursday Day Bazaar is located is dependent on traffic on that day. It’s a trunk road that passes through several villages and as one approaches the bazaar, the traffic will start to build up and that’s when the traffic snarl begins.

Well, a traffic snarl by Ulu Tiram’s standards that is.

Taking a breather after sorting out orders and purchases. (@all rights reserved)
Taking a breather after sorting out orders and purchases. (@all rights reserved)

As is the order of the day, there are makeshift parking lots, managed by people who live within a short distance of the bazaar, within the compounds of their respective homes.

Charges are at a minimal or at an affordable price, either way it’s a bargain as the charges are considered per entry. Which is considered the best option as that allows you more time to venture into that maze of a bazaar AND eventually find the way out as well.

Or one can also park by the side of the road, as most people would do. But then, that adds up to the congestion, does it not? Not so civic is it?

The new trend in town - the Sarung pants. Made from the sarung (the one meant for men that is), its allows for lots of freedom, if you know what I mean! (@all rights reserved)
The new trend in town – the Sarung pants. Made from the sarung (the one meant for men that is), its allows for lots of freedom, if you know what I mean! (@all rights reserved)

As one ventures into that maze of a bazaar, one cannot but notice how makeshift some stalls can be with their wares, still packed in plastic, strewn on the floor whereas some stalls, makeshift they may be, are more organized and orderly.

But no matter how makeshift they may be, the wares they offer can not only be eye-catching but the prices are so so reasonable, compared to what you may have to pay for them at the shops. The funny part is that some of the shops get their stuff from the traders at the bazaar as well. It is after all, in essence, a wholesalers’ mart.

The telekung or the prayer clothing for women. Many are on offer and can come in various colours and material. (@ all rights reserved)
The telekung or the prayer clothing for women. Many are on offer and can come in various colours and material. (@ all rights reserved)

Some traders specialise in Muslim fashion as well as clothing for they who are going to the Holy Land to perform the Umrah (or Minor Haj) or the Haj itself.

There are also traders who specialise in cloth, whereas some specialise in the finished article. Even accessories are not left out.

In short, there is something for everybody, if one care to venture and look that is.

And of course, as you finally make your way out, there are stalls who offer a variety of food, snacks and drinks, from which you can choose your pick to quench that thirst on what is becoming a hot Thursday morning, and at the same time quiet the growling emanating from the pit of your stomach, as they get louder and louder at each growl.

A food trader preparing a local snack dish called the 'Rojak Petis' - a mix of vegetables, crushed peanuts, sugar and petis (a shrimp-based paste). There are also other forms of Rojak (which means mish mash) eg Rojak Buah which counts fruits like guava, pineapples and other selected fruits. Tastes good too! (@all rights reserved)
A food trader preparing a local snack dish called the ‘Rojak Petis’ – a mix of vegetables, crushed peanuts, sugar and petis (a shrimp-based paste). There are also other forms of Rojak (which means mishmash) eg Rojak Buah which counts fruits like guava, pineapples and other selected fruits. Tastes good too! (@all rights reserved)

The ‘window shopping’ and the shopping is not done until you get in your car and make your way to join the main traffic heading back to the town of Ulu Tiram, for there are still stalls offering costume jewellery, accessories and beauty care.

There are many to choose from and should one have the time, maybe one could find something that one would not thought possible.

But as for us, we know when its time to make a move. It may not be a top-of-the-line shopping mall, but what they offer can still be tempting enough to pry open that wallet of yours.

You may be a few ringgit poorer, at least you know its money well spent. Afterall, it is a wholesalers’ market and that means there’s always a bargain to be had.

 

Date : 12 August 2014

 

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