Hungry crowds flock to Stutong Ramadan bazaar after two-year hiatus, vendors express joy despite smaller scale

From left: Abdul Baderi, Dr Abdul Rahman and Wee giving their thumbs-up after a ribbon-cutting gimmick to officiate at the Ramadan bazaar at Stutong Community Market today (April 3, 2022).

By Ashley Sim

KUCHING, April 3: The iconic Stutong Ramadan bazaar, which returned this year after a two-year hiatus, is a melting pot for people from all walks of life to gather and sample various local delicacies.

Deputy Minister for Utility and Telecommunication II (Utility) Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi officiated at the Kuching South City Council’s (MBKS) 2022 Ramadan Bazaar Opening Ceremony today at the Stutong Market on behalf of Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said that he was relieved to see so many people together after more than two years, while emphasising the importance of standard operating procedures (SOPs) which are still in force.

Hungry crowds are seen hunting for food at the Stutong Ramadan bazaar today (April 3, 2022).

As the Stutong Ramadan bazaar progressed, the atmosphere grew more upbeat. Hungry customers could be seen jostling their way through the crowds which appeared to grow by the hour.

Yusri adding chicken gravy to a murtabak at the Ramadan bazaar.

Yusri Ramli, 42, who operates a murtabak (stuffed pancake) stall at the Stutong Ramadan bazaar, said he felt relieved to be able to participate in the bazaar again this year because his income had decreased during the two years of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Prior to Covid-19, I had been running my murtabak stall at every (Ramadan) bazaar for about 14 years.

“I’ve been selling from a stall outside my house in Kampung Tabuan Melayu where people can eat and drink.

“On normal days, I sell ‘mee kolok’ and ‘roti canai’; only during the Ramadan bazaar I sell ‘murtabak ayam’ and ‘murtabak daging’,” he told DayakDaily when met at the bazaar.

Sadekin showing her assorted ABC and shaved ice desserts in front of her stall at the Stutong Ramadan bazaar.

Meanwhile, 50-year-old stall owner Sadekin Elli who was selling assorted “ais kacang” or ABC shaved ice desserts was full of energy as she attended to customers visiting her stall.

She said she had always been a regular participant of the MBKS Ramadan Bazaar at Stutong Community Market since seven years ago except for the past two years where the bazaar was cancelled following the Covid-19 pandemic.

On normal days, she would only sell “acar timun” (pickled cucumber) and “pekasam ikan” (fermented fish) in front of her house located in Kampung Tabuan Haji Drahman in Kuching.

When asked why she chose to sell different products at the bazaar, she said the change fits well with market demand.

“During the fasting month, the Muslims will look forward to breaking fast and the first thing they want would be to quench their thirst after abstaining from eating and drinking throughout the day.

“It has also become a thing where the people would look for ABC desserts during Ramadan. At the same time, the preparation of and selling ABC is pretty much easier than other products,” she said.

Among her popular assorted ABC desserts are White Lady, Laici Kang, Samboi Tiga Rasa and Honeydew Latte. A cup-sized drink is priced at RM3.

She was happy that her family could return to operating their stall at the Ramadan bazaar because the bazaar is another way to earn extra income for the household.

“When the Ramadan bazaar was banned for the past two years to curb the spread of the virus, it automatically cut my income so we had less to put on the table.

“Thus, I hope with the reopening of the bazaar, my family will be able to bounce back and earn more income for our daily expenses,” she shared.

This year, there are only 68 stalls operating at the Stutong Ramadan bazaar, which starts today until May 2.

While many would expect the bazaar to sell Malay cuisine and traditional kuih-muih, there are also stalls selling other heritage food like the Chinese’s kampua mee, kolo mee, and lok-lok.

Also seen were People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) personnel monitoring the bazaar and ensuring that SOPs are followed by both vendors and customers.

Also present at the bazaar opening ceremony were MBKS mayor Dato Wee Hong Seng and the bazaar’s organising chairman Cr Abdul Baderi Sahmat. — DayakDaily