KUCHING: The shophouse, decked with Christmas baubles and green wreaths, begins to flood with customers soon after the Zohor prayers.
They come in with their headscarfs and skullcaps still on, mill about, fill their bags with traditional cakes such as kuih lapis, kek cincin and tebaloi, a uniquely Sarawakian cake sometimes known in the local vernacular as “sago snakes”.
Later in the afternoon, other groups come in for their fill: working women, housewives, the odd tourist or two.
This daily scene is not nothing new to the locals. Kedai Runcit Abdul Wahet, located at the entrance of Kuching’s oldest mosque, known appropriately as Masjid Lama, has been operating for the past 100 years.
Mohd Jaya Idris, 40, who has been running the place for the past six years, said business peaks during the holiday periods.
“I enjoy putting up the decorations. It makes the place look more interesting,” he said.
The shophouse is connected to a row of grocery stories and restaurants, he said.
Mohd Jaya took over from his uncle Fazlan Abdul Wahid, who ran the family business for 40 years before retiring.
In the past few years that the shophouse has got media attention after Mohd Jaya started matching decorations inside and outside of the shop.
“Early this year, Sin Chew came over to cover the shop,” said Mohd Jaya.
“I try to improve on my decorations every year, although the GST has made some things more expensive,” he said. He had also ordered red-dyed cakes that matched the festivities.
A point of pride this Christmas was the kek lapis that is presented in yellow, green and red.
Other hot sells this year are kuih kuyak that are made out of green beans and kuih jala, which are made out of fried brown sugar.
Kuih cincin, which is made out of palm sugar and kuih sepit, also known as “love letter cakes”, also sell well.
Business has been good with the family expanding into a second shop in the city.
Mohd Jaya, whose relatives hail from the Chinese, Bidayuh, Iban and Indian communities, said he is joining in the gift-giving today.
“We have an open spirit here. What matters is that we celebrate our differences,” he said. -Mkini