I had a sudden craving for char kway teow after church on sunday, and not just any CKT. It had to be the Ghim Moh CKT. So we drove down to the wet market of my childhood.
I used to live very close by, and would accompany my mother to Ghim Moh whenever she made trips there. I hated walking through the wet market, the floor would be slick with murky water, and it would smell too. No matter how carefully I treaded, I was sure to get some of it on my legs. The worst sections were the fishmonger and chicken seller's stalls. I was always relieved when we finally got to the dry provisions and fruit stalls - which were relatively cleaner and drier. The fun bits of the journey were the you char kuay that I would usually get as a treat, and walking past the live fish stalls - the ones that you can buy and rear in an aquarium. Of particular fascination was a huge tank of tiny frogs, which i now realise served as feed for carnivorous fish.
After we moved away from the area, my mother still chose to return to Ghim Moh. She was used to it there, and liked it for its fresh produce. As I grew older, I stayed away from the wet market if I could. On Saturday mornings when my parents would go there to do marketing and have breakfast (often fishball mee pok), I always chose not to go along.
But this particular day, I chose to return. I remember this Char Kway Teow stall, Guan Kee, before it became famous. Now posters of Yummy King and other culinary accolades plaster the glass case where the mee and kway teow is stored. It was already doing very well (they do make a mean char kway teow), but after appearing on national TV, the lines grew longer. But I was so happy to find it open that the line didn't even bother me.
I finished everything on my plate.
After lunch, I asked Kisu to drive us past my old home, where I lived till I was seven.
I was surprised, but pleased, to see that it hadn't changed much, unlike the houses around it. In fact, the gate looked the same as I had remembered. We drove past the park that I used to play in every evening with the neighbours' kids.
It was a bittersweet memory. It was nice to look back, but I don't think I will go there again.