Like a tradition passed down from generations, the wet markets in Singapore can be deemed as cultural assets that preserve the heritage of Singapore’s history. A trip to the nearest wet market in casual wear and slippers is the norm for many middle aged female and men to grab their daily groceries, and catch up on news about neighbors and friends living in the area.

The photo essay explores 2 wet markets, the stallholders and the authentic warmness from the “uncles and aunties” this writer experienced.

156 Bukit Batok Street 11


Opened in 1997, this Bukit Batok wet market caters to neighbors residing in the district’s central area. It comprises of both wet and dried goods, serving as an all-in-one grocery stop for housewives.


Agnes Hew, lady boss of Kuang Yung Farm Product Traders shouted, “Xiao mei (little girl)! What are you doing here so early in the morning?” We engaged in a hearty chat as I listened to how she feels about lesser people visiting wet markets, especially the youths.

“People go to the supermarkets because everything is packaged nicely. But they don’t know whether it’s fresh,” the 50 year old chimed.


As she weighed the entire pork leg for her customer, she said pointedly: “There will be lesser wet markets in the future because youths want things to be convenient, clean, air-conditioned and comfortable.”


A group of housewives swarmed around a stall, their voices rising above the cacophony in the market. “Ah! This chicken feet tastes good when you braise it!” exclaimed an auntie to the stallholder.

This stallholder is Madam Ng, who has been “holding the knife” since she was 12 and spent most of her adult years in wet markets selling chicken for a living. She first started the business at Tiong Bahru Wet Market, before moving here in 1986.

“Do you know human kindness? You don’t experience it here now,” Madam Ng said softly in Mandarin.

Halfway through the chat as she continues chopping the chicken breasts for her customer, this writer noticed a red spot on her finger. “Auntie, your hand is bleeding!” She let out a hearty laughter and brushed it aside before applying ointment on her innocuous wound.


This writer also chatted with Madam Tan, a frequent customer of Madam Ng’s stall. “I always help to tend her stall while she’s away. It’s tiring for her,” she said.

Since Madam Tan’s retirement 7 years ago, she has been patronizing Madam Ng’s stall every week. “I still remember the first time I went to the market I didn’t know how to look at the food; if they’re fresh. The vendors are always helpful and do not sell for the sake of selling. They always advise me on what to buy, but in supermarkets there’s no one to help you.”

When Madam Ng returned from the toilet, I asked her about the differences between wet markets of yesteryears and now. “How does this resemble a wet market? It has been downsized. Times are different. As long as you’re willing to work hard, you won’t die of hunger,” she replied with a tinge of sadness in her voice.

Jurong West Street 52 Blk 505 Market & Food Center


Amidst the haggling, shouting and chopping at the busy Jurong West wet market, this uncle was the first vendor who spoke to this writer. “Youths like you don’t even come here anymore,” he said.


Located 3 stalls away was Uncle Quek who sells an array of seafood. Uncle Quek revealed the reason for working at the market: “These friends lor. We grew up together since young. When I first came, people call me xiao di di (little boy), now they call me lao uncle (old man).”


Around the corner, Madam Neo was spotted arranging her bananas as Chinese oldies blared from a radio. The 60 year old lamented, “When I first started 20 years ago, business was so good! Since Sheng Siong and Giant opened, lesser people visit the wet market.”


A customer turned friend, this aunty observed while I spoke with Madam Neo. She looked at us with an encouraging look and said: “I come here every day for a few hours to sit and chat with her because there’s no one at home.”

“The market used to bustle with activities. During festive seasons, you won’t be able to squeeze in. The environment is different now,” Madam Neo said.

Could wet markets be a thing of the past as the clock winds down and stallholders retire with nobody to take over the businesses? Perhaps, as this writer spied a nearby Sheng Siong supermarket bustling with shoppers.

Shot with a Sony NX100 – function Color Selection (Red & Yellow)