We were on an early morning train to Kuala Lumpur; when we reached Pudu station, the darkness of the night had just started to lift. To my surprise, there was a thick layer of clouds in the sky, where on previous days, it had been sunny in the morning. A short walk took us to the outdoor market of Pudu, where people were already busy at their stalls. As soon as we were inside the market, a strong, pungent smell hit us. At Pudu, there is no order in the market, and vegetable stalls are next to chicken stalls, while fruits are being sold right next to someone cutting the remains of a cow to pieces, watched by the dead eyes in the head of the same cow, lying on the stall. The floor of the market was covered in dirt; at one spot, we even saw small fish swimming in a muddy pool. We saw vegetables and fruits we had never seen before, and I loved the twirling beans peas from a line. All the while, we had to watch out for men pushing heavily-loaded carts through the narrow alleys of the market.
But we were also confronted with the harsh reality when we stopped at a stall selling toads. There was a cage full of the fat animals, and a balance where the owner had just put a bunch of toads on top of each other. When we arrived, he just dealt a blow on the head of one toad, who then stretched his legs, as if in a cramp. We stood there to watch the poor animals, until the owner lifted the top toad, put it on his board, and chopped his head off just like that. One moment, I was looking at a live toad, the next, I saw his light pink flesh, with a reddish circle in the middle where his main arteries once connected head and body. The other toads had no clue, but I assumed they were running out of time, too.
It started to rain hard, and one look at the sky told us that it would not stop any time soon. We took shelter at a big pharmacy, where the owner was reading a newspaper, and seemed oblivious of the world around him. In fact, not one person ever entered his antiquated store, which had a lot of traditional medicines on display, some closets, and unused space. An odd shop, in full contrast with the hustle and bustle of the market right in front of it: even in the rain, people were out there to buy stuff, to haggle, to drive their scooters through the narrow lanes of the market. A few stalls away, a big fish jumped out of his basin, hoping to escape in the small muddy pools on the ground, but his hopes were very short-lived: the owner came around his stall, took the fish, and delivered it a fatal blow. There is no place for mercy at the market here.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Pudu market (Malaysia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Pudu market. Read more about this site.