Browse for bric-a-brac, collectibles, clothing, art and antiques at the Little Penang Street Market (Upper Penang Road) every last Sunday of the month. Vendors, craftsmen and local artists peddle anything from paintings and plants to hobo bags and woodcarvings. There’s entertainment on hand with live performances, children’s activities, book readings and exhibitions.
You’ll find a harem of chiffon belly dance costumes and sequinned bustiers (ideal for your Arabian Nights-themed party) uncovered in Chinatown. Chinatown is roughly bordered by Lebuh King, Lebuh Stewart, Lebuh Muntri and Lebuh Campbell, just off Jalan Penang. This little nook sells Chinese qi pao and Mandarin outfits as well. The turn off to Lebuh Campbell deserves a visit as you’ll find luggage, dried foodstuff from China and souvenirs. Acupuncturists and traditional Chinese medicine men weigh out medicinal herbs on antiquated weighing scales and calculate your purchases on an abacus.
Get cheaper by the dozen at Mydin Wholesale Emporium (258 Jalan Penang. www.mydin.com.my) where you can get your stuff in bulk. Once a cinema, this one-stop wholesaler also houses inexpensive kitchenware, electrical items and everything a handy man could want. The costume jewellery range is chock-a-block with brooches, tiaras, plastic slides, barettes and gift boxes. You’ll also spy aromatic perfumed oils, hair tonic and customised perfumes mixtures from frangipani, tuberose and patchouli to civet, muscat and more.
Linger at the front façade of Chowrasta Market (Lower Penang Road) for nutmegs, sweetened candies, fruits, and other nibbles. Around the back is a wet market where you get to pick your chicken and have it slaughtered and dressed while you wait. Frogs are a delicacy and you might chance on the gruesome sight of a frog getting skinned. Homemade tofu, vegetables, fresh meat and fish are sold here too. On the first floor are several second-hand bookstores where they stock anything from romance novels and encyclopedias. Have a good rummage and it’s possible to come up with a rare print or vintage publication. Lillian Tong