At 7 am, I visited the Ang Mo Kio wet market. I have not been there for months. I saw a few terrapins being sold at the pet fish shop.
Wet markets in Singapore are quite "sterile" compared to the messy smelly ones in other countries. Yet few of the younger Singaporeans visit them as they prefer to shop at air-conditioned supermarkets, not knowing that fishes are fresher at wet markets.
My favourite fish-monger is a couple in their late 30s. "Where's the type of fish that women eat after birth?" I asked. "The one with the bone in the middle?" Actually all big fishes have vertebral bones in the middle. I pointed to a mid-sized fish greyish in colour.
"No, no," the fishmonger's wife said. "This is the one." A bigger sized fish. I don't know as I don't cook. My Cantonese mother used to buy it and cook it with brown or black beans. I bought a red polka-dotted fish and a pomfret for steaming. Fishes can be very fishy and I dislike eating fishy ones.
"Any of those small fishes they sell with nasi lemak?" I asked.
"Not today. Quite hard to find."
"Do you put fishes in the freezer?" I asked.
"Of course," the wife said.
"Do you do it?"
"No need," the husband said. "We sell out the same day."
At my fruit seller called "Ah Pui" or "Fatty" in Hokkien, his neighbour did not open the fruit stalls. He was alone as there is a shortage of labour even for low end jobs.
"Why your neighbour did not open?" I asked.
"He has closed shop."
"You must have killed his business," I replied. Ah Pui has a large variety of fruits from various countries and he is at the corner. He seems to have lots of clients while the neighbour has less.
"He has closed shop."
"How much is the rental of one fruit stall?" I asked.
"$5,000 for my 4 stalls," he said. "My monthly expenses is $10,000. The neighbours could have closed for various reasons."
"Did he offer the stalls to you?"
"No," he said. "But too many stalls can make me bankrupt. He has 6 stalls."
Competition exists everywhere. The bigger the business, the more difficult to survive if there are few clients. The same applies to vet pracices.
I also bought my favourite leafy vegetables from another stall. "Singapore grown," the man said. I thought Singapore farms are non-existent.
It is nice to visit the wet market now and then. I went there to buy the fruits. Didn't bring my camera.