June 07, 2011


A typical hawker centre in Malaysia. Most of the stores above feature food made by very-low-paid immigrants from Myanmar (sometimes Indonesians too, even if the place is porky). Food hygiene is questionable. The grounds are wet with oily puddles, rats and cockroaches scurry along — nobody cares. Loan shark stickers stuck on every public surface imaginable, cool-white fluorescent tubes illuminate signs for Bak Kut Teh or Penang Char Kway Teow, the toilets could almost look like that one in Trainspotting. Everything utilitarian. Cheapest ingredients to maximise profits. Melamine in pastel colours, marked with indian ink to denote identity. Touch your coins, touch your satay stick. Thumbs in your bowl of Laksa. Greasy faces, tired from working 10 hours a day, washing bulk vegetables in the morning, washing dishes squatting next to the drain at night.

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