The Penang state government is upgrading the iconic Chowrasta Market in George Town’s heritage zone into a beautified indoor affair. Opinions among stallholders diverge greatly. Some welcome the transformation while others are apprehensive.
Call me an Orientalist if you wish, but to hell with Edward Said’s theories. Street markets are one of the most peculiar and colourful realities of life in Asia, and are found nowhere in the West. All the overzealous worries about sanitation, cleanliness and whereabouts of food origins are traded for practicality, velocity and convenience. In fact, famous street markets and bazaars define the character of Asian cities and countries; just think of Bangkok’s enormous Chatuchak open market or Tabriz’s ancient bazaar, a Unesco World Heritage Site.
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