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Fruit seller in market in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

Go anywhere in Asia and you will find local markets. These markets will be selling all manner of things; meat, seafood, vegetables, grains, spices, basket ware, silk, batik, and even electronic goods. These markets are a wonderful arena for photography offering colourful goods on display, raw foods, cooked foods, and in particular is a great meeting point for people giving you the opportunity for some candid portraiture.

Vegetable seller at Yogyakarta market in Indonesia.
Dried goods at market in Shanghai, China
Fresh seafood at market in Shanghai, China.
Fresh seafood at market in Shanghai, China.

A wet market is a market selling fresh meat and produce, distinguished from dry markets which sell durable goods such as cloth and electronics. Wet markets were traditionally places that sold live animals out in the open. This includes poultry, fish, reptiles, and pigs. However, since SARS, large animals and poultry are not as commonly found in the markets though live fish, shellfish, and frogs are widely available. Some markets also sell exotic animals. Fresh fruits and vegetables are also available. Wet markets also generally include butcher shops with fresh meat. The fresh meat and fish sections are separate from the fruit and vegetable stalls. Many markets also have stalls that sell dried goods, flowers, and processed tofu as well as cooked meat. Many of the wet market buildings are owned by property investment firms and as a result the price of food can vary from market to market. In general, the owner of the wet market building is responsible for maintaining the building infrastructure. Stalls are rented out to retailers, who purchase and sell their goods independently. This is in contrast to a supermarket which is operated by a single company.

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Indonesian Batik, Ubud market, Indonesia.
Indonesian Baskets
Indonesian Baskets, Ubud market, Indonesia.
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Basketware for sale at Old Market, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
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Shoe seller, Old Market, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

For some customers, it is important to see the animal live before being sold. Specifically, they may want to check its health and quality. This is generally not an option in supermarkets, except in lobster or fish booths. Most wet markets have facilities for allowing a customer to choose a live animal, then either take it home as is or see it killed and cleaned.

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Pork seller at New Market, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Pork stall, Chiang Rai, Thailand.
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Sausages for sale, Old Market, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
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This one is looking at me! New Market, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
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Fresh meat stall, New Market, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

If sanitation standards are not maintained, wet markets can spread disease. Because of the openness, newly introduced animals may come in direct contact with sales clerks, butchers and customers. Insects such as flies have relatively easy access to the food products. Many times the carcasses are thrown on the floor to be butchered more easily. Both the current avian flu outbreak and SARS can be traced to the living conditions of keeping of live animals for sale in wet markets and the potential of cross infection this presents.

Vegetables on display at night market, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Fresh crabs at market in Phuket, Thailand.
Chiang Rai market in Thailand.
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Vegetable stand, New Market, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Market in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
Fresh Vegetable seller at Yogyakarta market, Indonesia.
Keropok seller, Yogyakarta market, Indonesia.
Keropok stand at Yogyakarta market, Indonesia.

It is at the seafood and meat stalls where you will encounter true ‘nose to tail’ shopping. Vendors will kill, pluck, butcher, gut and scale fish and poultry on the spot. Resourcefulness and concern for making use of all parts of an animal are key philosophies of most Asian cuisines. So, fish and goat heads, eels, chicken feet, pig trotters, offal such as liver, kidneys, tongue and tripe are on full display. Nowadays, the killing of larger animals such as pigs or goats occurs on the farm and the carcass is transported to the market pre dawn where the vendors finish the butchering. Live poultry is still sold in many markets.

At many of these markets there are also sometimes food stalls or small food courts selling cooked foods and is a great way to sample some of the local delicacies.

Around the periphery of the market there are sometimes other businesses to take advantage of the customers who visit the market. You can see small beauty shops, manicurists, hairdressers, and even tattoo artists.

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Hair salon in the New Market, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
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Manicurist has set up shop outside the New Market in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
A tattoo artist has setup a small shop on the outside of a street market in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
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Beauty Salon, Old Market, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

People watching is one of the most interesting things to do at a market from watching the varied techniques of the vendors trying to sell their goods to the large variety of people shopping there. You can always see some strange sights and photo worthy characters at these markets.

Rickshaw driver outside market in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
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Sleeping on the job, New Market, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
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Snooze time, New Market, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
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Vendors playing cards during a quiet time, New Market, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
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Fortune card reading, New Market, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Selling fly paper at market in Phuket, Thailand.
An old lady leaving the market in Yogyakarta, Indonesia with her becak driver.
Dressing up for show at the night market in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
Customer trying out a fake toy gun at the night market in Chiang Rai, Indonesia.



Passionate Photographer …. Lost in Asia

Stuart Taylor of HighlanderImages Photography has been making images for over 25 years and can offer a diverse range of photo imaging services with a focus on Asia and a documentary/photojournalistic style. These services include planning and executing a photo shoot on location but importantly all the post-processing and image preparation needed for the specific finished media format required by the customer. Stuart’s experience and knowledge in all of these aspects makes HighlanderImages Photography a one-stop-shop for a comprehensive and professional image production service.

Stuart can be available for a variety individual assignments or projects and he specialises in areas such as photojournalism, commercial, architectural, real estate, industrial, interior design, corporate, urbex, adventure, wilderness and travel photography. Stuart can also offer some innovative and advanced techniques such as HDR (High Dynamic Range) and Panoramic Photography.

Final image products can be delivered as high resolution images, prints, books, multimedia slideshows, videos and DVDs. Images from this website can be purchased as prints in a variety of sizes and media, as gift items or as digital downloads.

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