Kuantan, the capital city of Pahang Darul Makmur, is a fascinating modern town tinged with traditional activities.
There are plenty of things to do, what with beaches and sea, rivers and waterfalls, caves and tropical forests, surrounding it.
Modern supermarkets, emporiums, complexes, shopping malls and specialist shops selling modern and traditional attire, handicrafts, and others are there for those interested in shopping.
But, if you’ve done all (or done with) your shopping, swimming, sun-bathing, jet-skiing, or discotheque dancing in Kuantan, and you desire for more, and...
Well, if you think you need to wind down a bit from the hectic "vacational" activities and wish to relax a little... then come explore with me to the other wonderful delights Kuantan can offer.
LET'S VISIT THE VIBRANT AND POPULAR NIGHT MARKETS AND THE SUNDAY "PASAR TANI" MARKET
A rather delightful commercial activity cum social event found in the main towns and villages throughout the state of Pahang and in fact in other towns of Malaysia, is the weekly, and sometimes bi-weekly, "pasar malam" or night markets.
It’s like the flea markets of major towns, except that it is more joyous, lively and colorful.
It’s a delight especially to foreign tourists and quite a memorable activity to take back home.
The popular night market in Malaysia is perhaps where commercial activity is mixed with raw social entertainment, and to some village folks it’s the weekly social night out with the family, minus the expensive costs.
The UTC (Urban Transformation Center) parking lot, located near the Darul Makmur Football Stadium in Kuantan, is where you should go for a night walk on Saturdays to experience the excitement of the popular night markets.
Take a leisurely stroll among the boisterous crowd and observe the array and mix of items sold there.
Other places in Kuantan have their night markets on different days. So if you miss the delights of the night market at the UTC on Saturday -- wait for the next one in the week or just experience the night market excitement elsewhere in Kuantan.
Also on Saturdays, a night market is held both at Sungai Isap and Bukit Rangin.
At Beserah, the night market is held every Monday.
There is also a night market at Taman Tas, about 4 km away on the road to Kuala Lumpur, and at Taman Impian, on the way to Sungai Lembing, every Tuesday of the week.
And every Wednesday night, it is held at Taman Cenderawasih, at the end of Jalan Bukit Setongkol, about 3 km away from town.
And on Thursdays, there is a night market at Bandar Indera Mahkota 14, on the way to Sungai Lembing.
If you've reached the above-mentioned places in the evening, but don’t know where the night market is, just ask for directions, or just look out for big, bright and colorful umbrellas with stalls underneath, and many cars parked along the road with large crowds. You can be sure that’s where the night market is.
The night markets normally start at about 5.00 p.m. and last until 10.00 p.m.
Besides the usual food and items for sale, night markets are for you to enjoy the atmosphere, the ambiance.
At the night market, the atmosphere is one of joyful excitement and merry making, and for the young girls and boys, it is the time to find partners or dates and you can find groups of boys trying to woo the girls.
When you buy things there, don’t just pay the price mentioned by the seller. But try to HAGGLE, haggle and haggle, and if you are lucky, most of the time you can get the prices reduced further.
That’s the beauty and attraction of the night markets!! Prices are already relatively cheap but there is still a chance you might get them for cheaper if you bargain and haggle.
And you don’t need to buy anything at the night market either – just be there, be part of the crowd. Just locate yourself in the crowded place and hear the cacophony of sellers selling their wares, shouting loudly to be heard above their competitors.
And if you like, just sway to the rhythm of the loud boisterous music being played -- you don’t need to go to the discotheque to hear and enjoy loud music -- it’s there at the "pasar malam". Hear the current top and popular English, Malay, Hindustani or Chinese songs being played by the sellers of CDs. You just listen (and do sway a little too) for free.
Also hear the various Malay dialects spoken there – if you listen carefully, you can hear the Pahang "ulu" (interior) dialect, Kelantan, and Trengganu dialects, besides the usual Bahasa Malaysia or Malay language.
You will find a myriad of stalls selling all kinds of items. You will find, when in season, there are heaps aplenty of exotic tropical fruits such as the thorny durian, the rather hairy rambutan, fresh pineapples, delicious mangoes, sweet langsat, mata kuching, dukong, and many varieties of bananas. Other non-seasonal fruits like guava, water-melons, jackfruits and chempedak, can also be found.
Dried and salted fish, prawn and assorted fish crackers, belacan, tempoyak, and other local temptings and concoctions can be found there.
"Fresh from the pot (or frying pan)" cakes, kueh, cookies and traditional Malay snacks and pastries, like apam balik, putu piring, keropok lekor, the ever favorite satay, and many more, are there for the munching.
If you later feel thirsty from the walk, or salivated from the delicious looks and smells of the food, just stop and savour all kinds of drinks, hot and cold, that will thrill you after the stroll. Chendol, ABC (air batu campur), air bandung, and other local fruit drinks may definitely quench your thirst.
And if you need to buy cheap clothes, shirts, dresses, slippers, sandals and shoes, or clothing accessories like belts, watches, or whatever, just look around. You’ll find stalls selling those on the cheap.
If you have nothing to do on a Sunday morning in Kuantan, then visit the Pasar Tani.
Pasar Tani ( or "farmers’ market") is held at the parking lot of the UTC (Urban Transformation Centre) building in the vicinity of the Stadium Darul Makmur (the Kuantan football stadium at Jalan Bukit Sekilau), every Sunday mornings in Kuantan.
Here, under the new dark blue colored big canopies (it is actually referred to as Pasar Lambak Tani), you will find for sale only farm produce, sea and river catches, and vegetables and green crops harvested by the local farmers and entrepreneurs.
You will find at the Pasar Tani stalls a wide variety of local fruits – those in season as well as the non-seasonal - like papayas, guava, bananas, langsat, duku, water-melons, jackfruits, and other delicious fruits.
When they are too many, the fruits are sometimes just heaped on the ground, with buyers bending and haggling over prices.
Also available are varieties of locally planted and sowed vegetables, maize (corn), fowls (chickens, ducks,) meat like beef, mutton or lamb, and other related farmed products.
River fishes like the smooth, meaty patin, kelah, varieties of the catfish (ikan keli or haruan), and sea fishes, such as the tenggiri, kembung, bawal, and other catches from the sea including prawns, squids, and edible shellfishes like kerang (cockles) and lalah, are also found there.
The farmed products are all sold directly by the farmers themselves and brought directly from their farms, through the assistance and management of the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA), the government agency responsible for marketing farming products in the country.
Local traditional food dishes, kueh, snacks and traditional herbal medicines and raw honey, can also be found under the canopies. And local fruit drinks, like soursop and mango juices, are also sold for thirsty visitors.
And outside the farmed produce stalls you will find stalls selling men, women and children's wear and attires, like shirts, trousers and religious robes and accessories.
By selling the products direct to the consumers without the middlemen, the prices are therefore kept lower compared to those in the normal wet markets.
It is not surprising therefore to find the Pasar Tani very popular with housewives and the locals who shop for their weekly groceries and foodstuffs for household cooking.
And like all shopping activities in Kuantan, except at the modern shops and malls where prices are fixed, bargaining and haggling over the price is common practice.
In the other towns of Pahang, you can also find variations of the Sunday markets, known locally as "Pekan Sehari" (or "One Day Market" - since it is held once a week). For example, in the town of Temerloh, you can find the Pekan Sehari near the river bank close to the main town mosque.
Umm, I’ll take you later to Temerloh and to the other major towns of Pahang and their peculiar "pekan sehari" and other local delights and attractions in another web page.
Well, I hope you've enjoyed the experience of a fascinating popular night market out in Kuantan, and do tell your friends of the joyful memories.
Want to know where to stay in Pahang? Browse here for hotels and resorts in and around Pahang.
Next, follow me and click to another delightful activity you can always enjoy in the state of Pahang Darul Makmur, Malaysia.