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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Ramadhan Special 2013: Geylang Serai Ramadhan Bazaar

My original intention before the fasting month started was to go to Geylang Serai a few times during Ramadhan and compile a post of pictures which would capture the 'magic' we all associate with visiting the mother of all bazaars.

But after 2 visits (one in the first week and another in the third week), I suddenly realized something...
Some of that magic wasn't there anymore... But let's talk about that later.

This is a food blog! And one of the main things we love about Geylang Serai is the wide variety of food we all enjoy as we walk along the crowded stalls... So let's see what delicious food they has this year!

Bird's Nest Aunty still in the same place every year...
Roti John

Pulot Pangang
A nice big pile of YUMMY

One of my favourite things to have at the bazaar is something they call 'Kebab Roll' but I call it "Hot Dog Bun with Meat".

I guess there's just something a nice big pool of meat, veggies and sauce simmering on the flattop and then taking a nice big bite out of it in a hot dog bun topped off with mayo and more sauce. Definitely a messy and satisfying one for me!

Kebab Roll aka "Hot Dog Bun with Meat"
Putu Piring
And more Kebabs...
Egg Tarts by Guyz Delicacies
Pies by Guyz Delicacies
Portuguese Egg Tarts by Guyz Delicacies
The last 3 photos were actually taken at a stall just beside Tanjong Katong Complex.
There was a stall called Guyz Delicacies and they offered "Cookies, Egg Tarts, Pies and Buns" according to the name card.

The only other place we have reviewed so far that offers Halal pastries like these is Mayson's Bakery so this is definitely a welcome trend.

Even though the bazaar is over, you can still get more info at the following link;

Appam Balik
The next generation...
The Usual Suspects
I've actually never tried this before...
Jagung Bakar
Kala Coconut Ice Cream
One of the longest queues I spotted at the bazaar was at this stall located near Singapore Post Centre headed towards Tanjong Katong Complex.

It was selling Thai-style desserts!

Mango & Sticky Rice
Just a small section on the long queue
Coconut Ice Cream
Mango Sticky Rice & Coconut Ice Cream - Thai desserts!
And just take a look at that long queue! It was really madness I tell you. Luckily the people manning the stalls were working fast enough to keep it moving.

The Coconut Ice Cream seemed to be the biggest draw.
Coconut Ice Cream topped with what looks like Gula Melaka syrup served in a coconut shell!
My first thought was "No way lah gonna be able to eat the coconut flesh with the plastic spoon" but how wrong I was! The coconut flesh seemed to be soft enough even with plastic spoons!

Anyone happened to try this new dessert at the bazaar?

Ramly Burger (Amazingly - I didn't have a single one this Ramadhan!)
Feeling crabby??
Ranor Tenggiri Fresh Otah

When it comes to otah-otah at the bazaar, I always trust Ranor.
It's freshly prepared and has a nice spicy kick to it. Never lets me down!

Sugar Cane Juice
Ayam Percik
It used to be quite difficult to find a decent Ayam Percik in recent years. Even though the number of stalls seling Ayam Percik has definitely increased over the past few years, some of them.. well... don't really tickle my fancy so to speak.

But then again I guess it's up the individual as usual. Spicy or not spicy? Dry or dripping? So many choices.
But for me, it must be on the bamboo and it must be completely dipped into their special sauce!

And last but not least, undoubtedly my most favourite thing to have at the bazaar... DENDENG!!

I know some of you are saying "But nowadays you can get Dendeng anytime of the year what no need to wait til bazaar time." Well, I agree with you there. But you would probably agree with me too when I say that it's simply not the same as having Dendeng while walking around the Bazaar Geylang am I right?

Stage 1
Just need to wait...

One of the talking points this year (just like every year) was the price of Dendeng.
I think this year it was a little bit more of a hot topic because of the different and inconsistent prices being offered at different stalls both at Geylang and at other locations too.

Most of the stalls at the Bazaar Geylang and also the stalls at the Bussorah Street Bazaar sold Dendeng at $5.00 per 100gm. This was a 50-cent increase from last year's stall prices! It only started to become worth it when you bought at least 500gm ($20) and 1kg ($40) of Dendeng.

I realized that prices varied when I received a top-off that Dendeng House, which is the main supplier of Dendeng, was still selling it at original prices of $4.00 per 100gms. No inflation!
Long queues at their branch!

God bless Dendeng House
The Tampines Bazaar also sold Dendeng at $4.00 per 100gms by the way.
I'm not too sue about the Woodlands Bazaar because we didn't get a chance to visit this year.

But the biggest shock to me came at the end of the fasting month...

You guys know about the 4-day Bazaar held at Expo?
Well they had what I think is most probably the most expensive Dendeng prices I've ever seen!
And even if you bought 500gms or 1kg - it's still gonna be more expensive compared to other places.

Actually I can't really blame them.
I'm not sure about the rental prices at Geylang Bazaar this year but I can imagine it still costs quite a lot.
So you can imagine how much it would have cost to rent a stall at the Expo Bazaar!
And I guess sometimes there's no other place to reflect this than in the price of your goods.

Now that I mention it, it seems like quite a lot has changed and this means that somehow, the magic that was once associated with Geylang Serai during Ramadhan seems to be lost in translation.
What could be the reason for this?

Expo Bazaar

The emergence of other Bazaars during the fasting month is definitely a big contributor.

The pictures above show the Expo Bazaar which was held for only 4 days and still drew a lot of crowds. Not as many stalls but you still enjoyed the comfort of air-conditioning as you strolled along. Prices were a little elevated I guess but perhaps a small price to pay to avoid the crowds at Geylang?

The bazaars at Tampines and Woodlands continue to draw crowds as they have for the past few years.
After all, not only do you avoid the crowds, you also don't have to travel so far am I right?

But I'm not so sure how long we can stay away because all of the other bazaars will probably not have all the same stuff we will find at Geylang Serai.

Raya Lights 2010
Raya Lights 2013
I guess one of the biggest challenges faced is the sponsors for the bazaar in Geylang Serai.
Over the years, I'm sure most of you have noticed the dwindling crowds and the many comments that people pass about how the times have changed and the 'Spirit of Geylang Serai' has gone.

There was even an article in the papers recently with commentary on how the years have passed and perhaps people are no longer drawn to Geylang Serai as much as they used to be in the past.

Could be a change in the mindset of the new generation? Or have the crowds really found something new?
I think it's a combination of both to be honest. I honestly feel that since Kampung Melayu was demolished to make way for a new complex, things have never been the same...

There may be other places around Singapore to visit for bazaars but in the end, I feel that most of us will still visit Geylang Serai at least once or twice during Ramadhan. Because it's just not the same as other places. It is still the first name that comes to mind when people say Bazaar Ramadhan. I believe that people still want to celebrate like how we used to but the draw is definitely lesser than in the past. People want to come to Geylang Serai and feel the spirit and that seems to be lacking.

And it's always small things that make a difference. For example, I know what the lights are not really the biggest factor but people still talk about how the lights are not as attractive anymore and quite a few comments I've heard comparing our Raya Lights to other festivals like Deepavali and how we pale in comparison. Well, I guess it's up to individual opinion but you have to admit - it makes a difference.

But hope is not lost.
You still have the 'Raya Spirit' as you hustle and bustle along the crowded rows of people. We always complain when we have to squeeze with all the sweaty people and muscle our way to the front to buy or food and other stuff. But deep inside, we know we will miss it if we ever lose it.

Malam Raya 2010
Malam Raya 2010
Those last 2 photos were taken on the night before Hari Raya at about 1am.
As you can see, the crowds were out in full force even thought it was already so late!

This year, it was still crowded. But I have a feeling it was not AS crowded.
Only 3 years and such a big difference. I hope that the culture and the spirit associated with Geylang Serai never dies and picks up in the coming years.

And yes - I still make it to Geylang Serai on Malam Raya every year since 1997.
Last minute shopping. Meet up with old friends. Have some food. Soak in the spirit.
Alhamdulillah and I hope we can all continue to do so for many many years to come.

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