I have many memories of visiting the Geylang Serai Bazaar with my family during the annual lead up to Hari Raya. It’s a well-loved tradition in Singapore, with Singaporeans of all cultural backgrounds flocking down for all the delicious Malay kuih-kuih, vadeh, beautiful baju, curtains, cushions…and eating Ramly burger until jelak. It is of course of special significance for the local Muslim community, who fast during Ramadan and break fast every evening collectively, usually with a communal meal. Along Geylang and Tanjong Katong, there’s a wonderfully lively festive spirit.
This year however, something is different. It seems some fantastical creatures have conquered Geylang. The karipaps now have gone to relak one corner, and up front, the endless Ramly clones have made room for a stream of Rainbow Brites. Between the fairy-dust drinks and rainbow-coloured burgers, the bazaar this year almost other-worldly.
Rainbows & Unicorns at a Ramadan bazaar – good thing or bad thing? I haven’t a clue. But I will say my eyes were as tantalized as my tastebuds. And I’m glad they’ve kept the classics. Plus, I’ve never seen Geylang Serai THIS crowded. Hopefully that means great things for the community and the longevity of the hari raya bazaar? It’s pretty cool that they’ve found a way to get the youth excited about a traditional event. There were more groups of young gleeful friends than I have ever seen at any bazaar over the years.
Less families in matching baju kurung, more youth with hidden rainbows spilling out their otak.
Anyhoo, it’s the food and stuff you’re interested in right? So here are pictures from the Geylang Serai 2017 Bazaar. I’ll say it in pictures as it was hard enough not to be run over by the youngn’s without standing in the massive queues for the hipster food. So I can’t make much food recommendations. Just use eye power only lah, k?
K, steady let’s go.
Geylang Serai Bazaar 2017
First Stop, Baju
Look at all those colours! Every colour of the rainbow, you might say? Ahh, so the original source of inspiration for the modern trend comes from the traditional. I see I see.
Taste of Rainbows
Straight off the bat, spotted my first rainbow drink! Got in there and tried some hipster food.
Glico pocky in a whole cup of pinkness. I got the combo for a taste of this and that.
Gotta say, I liked the food way more than the drink. With the fancy guy to met the cheese, the food prep reminded me a little of the amazing food in London’s food markets.
I wouldn’t go for the drink again, but the food was delish.
Then I tried a few things before the sun went down and the bazaar got super crowded.
Ondeh ondeh pancakes. Sounded promising. Completely disappointing. 10 tiny pancakes for $6, and there wasn’t even an gula melaka explosion :(
Grilled duck sandwich. Yum! Probably the best thing I had this time.
Geylang Serai Bazaar: A Fresh Spin
Around the World
Now here comes all the modern additions to the Geylang Serai bazaar. Not everything is other worldly, but there are lots more flavours from around the world. Mexican tacos. Dutch pancakes. Turkish kebabs. Spanish churros. Unicorn tears.
The Mod Squad
Then comes the modern additions. Some gimmicky, some just pretty, many flavourful. Fried oreos, fried mars bars, flame-grilled sandwiches… very interesting spread.
Some kind of keropok dipped in dry ice, so you can breathe smoke out your nose for a few seconds. It’s fun :) And doesn’t taste bad.
There’s more than one stall so just look around.
Swirly juice in a lightbulb.
Mermaid Tears, Pixie Dust & Other Magical Potions
More Colourful Stuff
OMG Ramly and Rainbow Brite had a baby!
Eh, a bit too much lah ni…
Geylang Serai Bazaar: The Good ‘Ol Bites
Wouldn’t be recognisable without these.
Although crispy, the Malay style of pisang goreng uses the white banana which feels a little dry. I prefer the pisang manis style which is more common to find in Chinese style pisang goreng.
Geylang Serai Bazaar: The Classics
After giving up on queuing for the fancy new food, I reverted to Roti John. It was pretty good. But they slather it with bbq sauce and mayonnaise etc. Apparently the best roti john is in the Haig Road market! My mother apparently has been trying to get that year after year but it’s always sold out. She was very excited she managed to snag some this year. And I agree, it was much more delicious savoury flavours.
It’s that third stall I think, Rosy & Nora. Just be conscientious if eating here, as many people around are still waiting to break fast. We didn’t feel good chomping on a delicious Roti John with everyone still hungry, so we chose to eat outside quickly.
Mmm, yes. Crispy traditional goodness filled with peanut, corn, chocolate or a combo of those. $3.50 – $5 a piece.
If you’ve been to a single pasar malam in your life, you’ll know this. Feeling saucy yet?
Vadeh and Indian Snacks
Classic flavours. Some spicier than others. Vadeh is the definite favourite.
Quite an exciting new range of cookies. I still love the sugee, kueh bangkit and pineapple tarts best. And that one with the almond on top!
So yes love the classics, but it’s nice to try new things like these flavours below.
Geylang Serai Bazaar: Home & Decor
Cushions, Curtains and Table Runners
For the mothers and homemakers, the gem of the bazaar is all this beautiful home decor. Flower motifs are particularly popular.
Great for Raya, and for general use in the home. You can get some pretty lovely curtains in Geylang and Tanjong Katong. They obviously cost more so bring enough cash. Some stalls take NETS but best be prepared.
Make-up in darker skin tones. They also have those rainbow-coloured makeup brushes!
Middle Eastern fragrances
And there you have it. Quite the adventure, this new style of bazaars. Planning to head back there, earlier in the afternoon this time so I can actually eat without being run over by hipsters.