I was at the Kampong Baharu market this morning. Needed to have my cup of coffee. No place to sit alone, so I went to share a table with two other senior citizens. They were busily talking. And very excitedly too.
It seemed that in the early hours of the morning, a big fire had broken out in the middle of the Bukit Mertajam old town centre. I didn't join in the conversation much but I got to know that the fire was serious enough. "Where was the fire," I asked one of them. "The market place," he told me. "You mean the one opposite the Tua Pek Kong temple?" I asked again. He nodded.
(This picture from facebook of Ng Choong Huah)
According to him, the whole of the old wet market along Jalan Pasar has been razed. He had gone to look at it himself. The roads were totally impassable. The fire brigade was still on standby. They weren't sure how the blaze had started but the suspicion was that it could have been a short-circuit from the GSL supermarket which was housed on the upper floor of a double-storey building. The big problem was that the wet market behind it had extended into the ground floor.
(This picture from facebook of Jonah William Scully)
This GSL supermarket has been around for a very long time, perhaps like some 40 years ago. I remember that it used to be called BM Supermarket, the very first department store to be opened in this town. Used to be very crowded then, especially during the run-up to the festive seasons, but not in recent years when big shopping malls have eclipsed its usefulness. I think that I might have last climbed its front steps in early 2000.
The supermarket in its pre-fire days. (This picture from facebook of Tang Hooi Theng)