One of my top things to do when I travel aboard is to visit the flea markets. It is always fun ogling over odds and ends, haggling over an antique and watching the drama of life unfold along the street.
I will call myself lucky if I can find an old gramophone, rare coin collector items or past issues of magazines which I have been searching for ages. However, flea market is not only about antiques. There is so much more to discover. Bric-a-brac, street foods, apparels, home appliances, toys and even buskers.
In fact, flea market has become so popular. We can see lots of places, like shopping malls and alleys turning into flea markets at certain times. As Malaysia is ranked the world’s fourth best shopping destination by CNN, there are more reasons for you to drop by our flea markets.
Amcorp Mall, Petaling Jaya
The flea market is as old as the mall itself since 1998. It is my No. 1 pick due to the diversity of old merchandise, from vinyl records, rare movie posters, retro figurines, pottery, coins to books and knick- knack items.
Apart from the dozens of stalls set up for the purpose, there is also quite a number of antique shops in the mall, which you can visit even on weekdays. This is also where I found my favourite classic MGM musical records.
Memory Lane, Ipoh
Fondly known as “Loken” or “Pasar Karat” (rustic market) by the locals, this flea market located in Jalan Horley has more than what you bargain for.
Scarves at RM1 each. Dresses at RM5. Old typewriter for only RM100. With such prices, your Sunday morning will be really busy here.
Jalan Hang Lekir, Melaka
Many people may be acquainted with the weekend night market at Jonker Walk but not many know Sunday morning nearby offers something more nostalgic.
The traders strictly stick to selling only antiques. What I love about this flea market is the wide array of old Peranakan (Straits Chinese) items like pottery, kitchenware and tiffin with the exotic classic designs of that community.
Bazaar Karat, Johor Bahru
This bustling flea market which opens nightly attracts thousands of visitors all year round, especially Singaporean tourists. Located in the heart of the city of Johor Bahru, it offers clothings, trinkets, housewares, street foods and more.
But don’t expect a lot of antiques here. Most of the items are new and reissued items. And it is mind-boggling with endless phone casings for you to choose from.
Lorong Kulit, Penang
Formerly located in Rope Walk but now near the City Stadium, this flea market is my favourite place to hang out when I was young.
It attracts lots of visitors from morning to noon, offering a wide range of items, from old to new brassware, shoes, stamps, postcards, fruits and clothings. The varieties make it a good place for bargain hunters.
My advice for those who visit the flea market: – Remember to dress down and not look like a tourist.
Learn the art of bargaining. Trader may start with an exorbitantly high price for an item. Say “no” even when your heart wants to say “yes” to the price. Haggle until he gives up and willing to accept the price you demand. Good luck and happy shopping!
Words by Francis Yip