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The six species you see at the pasar malam in KL

Written by
Joyce Koh

Illustration: YYYs

1. The Lemming

If you ever need to capture a Lemming, just follow these simple rules. Step one: set up a food stall. Any food will do. Step two: install a queue of ten or more before it. True to its instincts, the Lemming will instantly attach itself to a crowd without knowing what it’s queuing up for. Remember: The longer the queue, the higher your chances.

2. The Enthusiast
The Enthusiast is all for celebrating the food culture in Malaysia. Easily bewildered by the array of dishes, the poor Enthusiast usually ends up gathering enough sustenance to feed the entire village. Defining characteristics: large paws and muscular forelegs (to carry their loot). Gets carried away at the kuih stall.

3. The Predator
This single-minded Predator is here for one thing only. No amount of neon-hued agar-agar or roti john variation can distract it from its mission. Watch in awe as they sweep in the cacophony, prowl with ease, and emerge, moments later, unscathed, with a single packet of nasi lemak balanced in its jaws before heading home in time for dinner.

4. The Hound
One of the most common sights at the pasar malam, the Hound travels in packs, temporarily dispersing to hunt and gather provisions for the team. Without prior notice, the Hounds then reconvene right in the middle of the walkway to nose through and feed on the fruits of their labour, causing temporary pasar malam congestion. Give them a good prod with a satay stick to get them out of the way.

5. The Remora
Our favourite species – the Remora. The brown-nosed stall owner is talented at making you feel good about yourself. You just came from the gym in sweaty clothes and a messy ponytail? You’re a leng lui. You’re dressed in a grey singlet that you got from Bangkok eight years ago? You’re still a leng chai. We’ll gladly buy five more skewers of nuggets from them.

6. The Stylish stall owner
A somewhat recent phenomenon, the Stylish stall owner has been making its rounds in pasar malams around the city. This species has its marketing and branding skills down pat – faux hipster banners (‘est since 2016’), Ray-Bans, matching tees, catchy ayam percik tunes and so on. Usually sells updated versions of classics; think pisang goreng chocolate, murtabak Maggi, artisanal sirap, etc.

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