KOTA BARU (Kelantan) — Mention floating market and images of villagers plying their trades, from food and beverages to handicraft and textiles, on small boats in Thailand spring to mind.
Just across the border in Kelantan, visitors will be happy to see that similar business opportunities on a smaller scale are opening up for local traders.
In Kelantan, there are three floating markets where visitors can get nasi kerabu, nasi berlauk, akok, tepung pelita and deep-fried seafood in crispy batter called colek.
The first floating market was set up three years ago in Sungai Pengkalan Datu near Sering, here. The second market was opened in Pantai Suri, Tumpat, and the third one is in Cherana, near here.
Sungai Pengkalan Heritage Association chairman Mohd Hasri Husin said there were seven traders operating at the Pengkalan Datu floating market, with 20 more operating along the jetty.
“The market opens every Saturday from 8am to 1pm. Since the market was opened in 2017, the number of traders has been increasing.”
He said the floating markets had become popular not only among local visitors, but also foreign tourists.
“There is an average of 500 visitors per day and the number goes up to 800 a day during school holidays or public holidays.”
He said the traders decorated their floating boats.
“People love to come here and take pictures of the beautifully-decorated sampan while enjoying the food.”
Apart from providing additional income to the traders, he said the floating markets also promoted community-based tourism.
“Visitors to the Pengkalan Datu floating market can enjoy traditional performances and take the river cruise along Sungai Pengkalan Datu.
He said tickets for the river cruise are priced at RM5 (for adults) and RM3 (for children).
Trader Yusof Harun, 62, said he started selling traditional delicacies at the Pengkalan Datu floating market two years ago.
“I sell akok, roti jala and tepung pelita made by my wife. When I heard about the business opportunity on sampan, I decided to join because I like the idea.
“It is a unique way of conducting business while promoting tourism.”
Mr Yusof, a father of two, said he travelled from his home in Bunut Payong to the market every Saturday.
“Each trip is about 25km, but this is what I like to do. My products are usually snapped up within minutes.”
Visitor Azzah Mohd Som said she and her 2-year-old son went to the floating market after learning about it from a friend.
“This is my first visit to the floating market. I am happy to see that I can find my favourite food here, as well as fruits. I spent only RM10 for five packets of traditional cakes,” said the 32-year-old from Kuantan, Pahang. NEW STRAITS TIMES