Bazaars: Are They Worth the Buzz?

By Chloe Wong (19S07C), Isabelle Tan (19S03S) and Vanessa Lur (19S06Q)

Photograph courtesy of Eatbook.sg

It is a regular hot afternoon in Singapore and I find myself doing something not-so-regular—visiting the bazaar. The crowd is overwhelming and I find myself being shoved around by people all around me. As I wipe away the sweat trickling down my neck, I can’t help but wonder how bizarre it is that more and more teenagers are willing to endure a good few hours pushing through crowds just for a bazaar. This brings me to the question at hand – what exactly is so enticing about these bazaars?

So, to find out the answers to this particular question, I surveyed 34 Rafflesians to investigate the reason behind this bizarre phenomenon. With an overwhelming majority of 82.4% of respondents indicating that they would visit a bazaar, my observations about the growing popularity of bazaars among youths were confirmed. Probing further, we asked our respondents to explain why.

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Many respondents (38.2%!) stated that the reason why they visit bazaars is due to the unique and novel food offered. From rainbow grilled cheese to the iconic Ramly burgers to fried oreos, bazaars offer a wide selection of gimmicky food and drinks. These snacks are often overpriced, yet one can still find countless posts featuring these foods on Instagram. While some people may post such shots just for the sake of keeping up appearances on social media and following trends (after all, who doesn’t like seeing colourful, pretty food in their feed?), some people genuinely enjoy eating these hipster foods. They add flair to the snacks one would usually consume. For example, a staple at bazaars is rolled ice cream, which is made using milk, cream, and sugars, then rolled into vertical rolls of sweetness. Another would be fried oreos, which are oreo biscuits covered with batter and sugar.

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Paddle pop shaved ice, one of the many delicious desserts from Geylang Serai Bazaar (Source)

17.6% of our respondents also indicated that they visit bazaars for their vibrant atmosphere, which makes for a pleasant experience overall. After spending an entire afternoon there, I have to say that after getting over the initial annoyance of having to rub shoulders with people wherever I went, the lively atmosphere of the bazaar grew on me. In contrast to the restaurants or malls where one may feel sheepish for even laughing too loudly, bazaars are definitely a nice change. It was certainly understandable why many choose to go to bazaars even with a shopping mall nearby. The high energy in the bazaar eased everyone there into animated conversation with their friends, filled with banter and laughter.

Bazaars, as stated by 26.5% of respondents are also worth a visit due to them being fresh experiences. With teenagers often lamenting that there is nothing fun to do in Singapore and remarking about how boring it is, it is not surprising that these bazaars, being short-lived and rather rare, are able to draw in hordes of bored teenagers looking for new places to visit and explore. Bazaars usually provide more than just food and have stalls selling clothes, festive goods and sometimes even offer carnival games. Having both aspects of food and entertainment covered, they serve as fun one-stop venues for teenagers to pass their time. Moreover, even annual bazaars differ greatly from their predecessors. This ensures that with every trip to a bazaar, one will always find new additions or renditions of their favourite foods which is undoubtedly refreshing and makes the experience much more interesting.

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Games present at Geylang Serai Bazaar 2018 (Source)

From the above, it seems bazaars have a lot to offer. However, some people do avoid bazaars. One reason is due to the increasingly overpriced food which tend to focus more on aesthetics than taste. Moreover, the insufferable heat and the crowd is hard to bear. Some may also think that spending time at bazaars could be pointless, for it is inconvenient and may not seem to provide a very rewarding experience.Those who indicated that they would visit bazaars also mentioned that they dislike the sweltering heat, crowds and the noise at bazaars. Despite all these, the fact that they still choose to visit them hints that bazaars definitely have a certain charm to them and are not quite as unrewarding as some may think. Perhaps for some, bazaars might not be your thing, but are definitely still worth a try!

Final thoughts

The growing popularity of bazaars among youths is with good reason. Bazaars have much to offer, including good food and a lively, refreshingly new experience. However, it might be intolerable for some due to the heat and insane crowds. Personally I love bazaars and would definitely recommend them. So, next time you hear about a bazaar, remember to drop by together with your friends for an afternoon of laughter and fun!

Some bazaars to look out for include the ever popular annual Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar and the unique Singapore Really Really Free Market which occurs frequently every year. Check out their Facebook to find out when! 

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