Durian seller gives out 500kg free durians on his birthday
Durian seller continues annual tradition of giving out free fruit to celebrate birthday
Armed with a bottle of water and a plastic fan, the retiree was ready for three-and-a-half hours of waiting under the hot sun for free durians.
"I was kiasu. I didn't want to lose out," Madam Ng Mui Yong, 69, told The New Paper in Mandarin.
She was rewarded for it - being the first in line yesterday to receive two boxes of free durians from a makeshift stall at 12, Jalan Tampang in Sembawang.
The durian giveaway is an annual tradition.
Every year on July 11, durian seller Yap Kean Seng, known as Durian Seng to his customers, celebrates his birthday by giving away two boxes of durians to each regular customer who turns up.
To receive the fruits, they simply need to flash his name card, which he gives his regulars.
Between 7.30 and 9 last night, 500kg of fragrant D24 and D13 durians were handed out, said Mr Yap.
It was half of what he usually gives out due to the "not so good" harvest this year, he explained.
To compensate, he bought 500kg of watermelon to give away as well.
He said in Mandarin: "The harvest (of durians) this year is not ideal, so I didn't want to give out the not-so-good durians and ruin my reputation."
Mr Yap, who turned 64 yesterday said he has been giving out free durians annually for more than 20 years.
He said: "When the customers are happy eating durians on my birthday, I feel happy as well."
He added: "Some years, people start queuing at 4pm. Seeing the crowd also makes me very happy."
He spends between $4,000 and $5,000 on the giveaways every year.
Asked if he feels the pinch, he said: "I only give out once a year, so even if heart pain (sic), it's only one day a year."
Madam Ng, who heard about the giveaway from her son, joined the queue with two friends at 4pm, even though the giveaway was to start only at 7.30pm.
Fortunately, Mr Yap handed them plastic chairs to sit on.
There were 25 people in the queue by the time the giveaway started.
Shouts of "Free durians! Free durians!" pierced the air as Mr Yap handed the fruits to his customers, many of whom sat at tables to eat them.
Madam Ng told TNP: "It was very hot in the afternoon... But the durian is very tasty. I don't regret waiting."
Knowing it was Mr Yap's birthday, Mr Benjamin Loo, 32, an inventory executive, and his wife brought homemade muffins for the birthday boy.
Said Mr Loo: "It's a small gift for him since he always gives us good durians."
Ms Ivy Toh, 36, a design consultant, took eight family members along.
They buy durians once a week when the fruit is in season, each time spending more than $100.
She said: "It's very decent for free durians - they taste like that normal durians that I find here.
"Whether free or not, we will continue to eat here."