Located on Singapore’s western coast, and home to Pasir Panjang Terminal, this is where many fresh shipments of food enter Singapore for the first time.
Chances are, something you’ve eaten this week (or even today) has passed through here. I had heard that the centre gets really busy late at night and in the early hours of the morning, all in an effort to bring fresh food to various supermarkets, wet markets, restaurants and hawker stalls around the island. Hence, I made a late night trip down just to see what the fuss was about!
When I met the gates around 11 p.m., I noticed trucks zooming in and out of the complex. This centre is open 24 hours a day, every single day of the year, except for the first day of the Chinese New Year holiday.
It gets pretty chilly and drafty at this time of the day, since it’s by a coast. I wished I had a windbreaker with me!
You’ll see the sign at the guardhouse that says “Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre”. It’s quite easy to miss this large but inconspicuous complex.
I got quite lost as this was the first time I had explored the sprawling centre. Fortunately for you, if you’re entering through the main gates, all you have to do is walk straight through until you encounter the “Auction Hall” sign.
Once you see this sign, you’re in the right place. Following the arrow, you’ll soon reach this massive hall.
This is where all the action happens. Watch your step! Flurries of deliverymen zoom about with their trolleys of food here. Best to keep your eyes peeled for any oncoming stacks of boxes. You’ll do best to keep clear of the edges where the trolleys are usually moving.
You’ll quickly see a mind-boggling number of vendors displaying their produce for sale. As this is a wholesale centre, the prices only get better if you purchase in bulk.
I wasn’t quite sure where it all ends. Stall after stall, it just seemed to be an endless supply of fruit and vegetables!
If you happen to be extremely bored and free around 2 a.m., you’ll probably get to catch some auctions here as well. As the clock inches toward dusk, restauranteurs start bidding on boxes of unsold produce and the entire complex becomes a bustling auction house – this explains why it’s called the Auction Hall. It is truly quite impressive what happens during the wee hours when most of us are tucked soundly in our beds.
Even though I came down late at night, this centre is opened all day. If you decide to visit around normal human hours i.e. between 9:00-6:00 p.m., you’ll find other not-so-perishable goods on display as well.
Perhaps, it’s time for another trip to be made.
By Joshua Tan, September 2016
Photos: Joshua Tan