Festive stalls enliven royal birthday

Rokiah Mahmud

For two weeks, street vendors will be plying their trade in over 200 festive stalls located across Bandar Seri Begawan.

Adding colour to the evenings in the capital, the stalls are composed of traditional food and beverage businesses, as well as those selling toys, clothing and other wares.

Several booths have also been set up by various agencies in the government and private sectors, as well as schools and universities, for the display of sketches, religious competitions and cultural events.

One of the street vendors, Hajah Noriah binti Haji Abdul Ghani, has been selling ‘sotong tutuk’ or pounded squid for nearly five decades, since 1976. At that time, her stall was located near the Boon Pang Baharu cinema.

Even after the building was demolished, she still continued to sell the local delicacy at assigned festive stalls near Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien.

Over 200 festive stalls located across Bandar Seri Begawan are in for two weeks, adding colour to the evenings. The stalls sell traditional food and beverages, as well as toys, clothes and other wares.
‘Sotong Tutuk’ seller Hajah Noriah binti Haji Abdul Ghani with her daughter
Large crowds at the festive stalls. PHOTOS: ROKIAH MAHMUD

“I have been participating as a vendor every year, except in 2020, due to COVID-19. It has been a mixed experience for me and my family, as we have been selling sotong tutuk for generations,” she said.

“During the festive season, we prepare around 200 to 300 pieces of sotong tutuk. Some of it is prepared at home, while the rest is pounded at our stalls. As a long-time vendor, I have seen many changes in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s up to the present.

Alhamdulillah, the customers are also being responsible in terms of adhering to the standard operating procedures for COVID-19,”

Asked if her raw supplies are affected by price hikes, Hajah Noriah said, “Current prices are much higher now, compared to few years ago. As vendors, we do not have much choice except to purchase them anyway. “However, I still maintain the price of BND1 per squid, so that customers can afford to buy it.’

Elsewhere, longan is the most favoured choice among tropical fruit lovers, with stall vendors offering longan at reasonable prices alongside seasonal fruit such as durian and mandarin oranges.

The festive stalls operate from 5pm to 10pm. The Bandar Seri Begawan Municipal Department urged the public to follow the standard operating procedure (SOPs) and guidelines including scanning QR codes placed at all entry points to the festive stalls.