Keropok and turtle eggs at the market in Kuala Terengganu
After lying by the pool all day yesterday, Jeroen was completely burned, we went to the city for a day trip. We went to Pasar Payang, the central market, where we encountered some remarkable things.
Clear blue sky
We’ve said before that here in Kuala Lumpur it’s really hot. Actually, it is quite often cloudy and we don’t even see the sun that often, yet it is warm. The temperature is always around 30 degrees Celsius, but I have to say that we have gotten used to this. That’s what we thought, at least, until we arrived in Kuala Terengganu. Burning sun, clear blue sky and not a breath of wind, welcome in Terengganu. Ideal for a city trip…
Of course, we didn’t let ourselves down and the taxi dropped us off at Pasar Payang. This is a covered market where hundreds of Malaysians come every day for their groceries. They can buy here their clothes, fruit and vegetables, ‘keropok’ and ping-pong balls. Well, that’s what I thought. After we asked the seller what it actually was, it turned out that I couldn’t be more wrong.
In the state of Terengganu, there is an open market for the sale of turtle eggs. This is seen as a delicacy in which the egg is lightly boiled before eaten. It’s about more than 400,000 eggs per year. You will see bags of eggs at each tent. Apparently, there are a lot of proteins in this delicacy, more than in a chicken egg.
Sold as a souvenir
Fortunately, the turtle is not yet threatened with extinction… Plastic pollution, rising sea levels, crowded beaches and poachers who bring the turtle in danger. The local population sees the turtle as a source of income. The meat is eaten, the eggs are sold as a delicacy and the shell is sold as a souvenir. Even though there are many protected areas in Malaysia, there is still a massive trade in eggs.
A few hundred meters from the market you will find the ‘Turtle Alley‘, a small, narrow street where they pay attention to the extinction of the turtle. Wall paintings and mosaics tell the story of the illegal sale of eggs and explain why you shouldn’t eat them. Very sad and something we had no idea about.
So no turtle eggs for us, but we wanted to try ‘keropok’. This specialty comes from this city and we know it under the name ‘kroepoek’! So we walked over the market and saw bags full of grey ‘lasagna leaves’ the ones you still have to put in the oven. Women who shovel the leaves into big bags and staple them. This turns out to be the keropok we were looking for. So we bought a bag and luckily the salesman told us that we still have to bake it ourselves! We were kind of shocked because if he didn’t tell us we would definitely have tried it without the baking, that should have tasted gross probably. Then he brought out another bag with the real prawn crackers that had already been baked. How did it taste? Oh well, pretty good but I rather eat a bag of cassava from Conimex haha!