Student - May 2, 2012

Black market in Holland

Vintage Nintendo games, Asian groceries and the casino of Las Vegas, they seem entirely irrelevant, but last Sunday I found them all in a small town in Holland.

Trang introduced the Asian sperziebonen to Fabienne.
I'm talking about De Bazaar in Beverwijk, aka 'Zwarte Markt' (black market), the self-proclaimed largest roofed bazaar in Europe. I went there with my friend Trang and her friend Fabienne who lives in Beverwijk. Our main target was the Asian vegetables because Trang would make a typical Vietnamese dinner for Fabienne's family.
The outside of De Bazaar looked like a quiet carnival fair without an iconic Ferris wheel. In contrast with the appearance, its inside brought me back to the life in Asia: hundreds of stalls selling toys, clothes and snacks were arrayed in a huge warehouse, the stall holders tried their hocus-pocus for peddling while the customers stuffed their mind with 'goedkoop' ('cheap' in Dutch) and looked for the best bargain.
Did you ever imagine a Dutch being shown around in a Dutch city by two Asians? Trang and I made it. From the Asian eggplants to the fragrant pears, we introduced some 'new' vegetables and fruits to Fabienne. When passing by a fruit stall, the girls stopped and wanted some dragon fruits as the desert for dinner. Fabienne asked the price in Dutch. '4 voor 3 euro,' the vendor gave them a plastic bag. 'Too expensive! Girls, time for price-cutting,' I urged them to bargain. But they behaved like the other surrounding civil Dutch and bought two for 1.5 euro. I took a breath and sighed: 'How come I think more like a desperate housewife than two girls?'
Indeed, I did act like a nagging housewife: when they couldn't find the water morning glory in the stalls, I took them to the Oriental Supermarket Chain. When Fabienne complained about the price of that vegetable, I said 'it's the cheapest in Holland'. When they were in a shoe shop, I said 'you'd better go to Roermond; more and cheaper'. 'Please stop being annoying,' Trang begged me. Did I stop? Definitely not, instead I took it as a compliment: they must be impressed by my knowledge about Holland. Hopefully Fabienne didn't think I had stolen her show since she was the actual host.
Anything impressed me in the end? That should be the 2.25 euro they charged for the entrance. Maybe it deserves that price, especially for an Asian, for the sake of homesickness.
 
Vid of the Week A TV commercial presents you a quick overview of the Black Market.

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