Before the advent of super cheap plastic raffia strings, we used a humble and environmentally friendly, 100% organic and biodegradable “string” called “咸草” or “kiam chao” in Penang Hokkien. Not sure what it is called in Malay.
These grassy strings were sold in bundles of about a metre long, and they were used everywhere — at home, in sundry shops, wet markets, etc — for bundling up loose goods that had not been factory-prepacked.
Cannot remember ? Perhaps recall the old days how bak chang dumplings were tied up. Haiz, these days we can hardly find these kiam chao anymore.
I understand that a lot of these kiam chao have gone into high fashion, where they are turned into hats with a touch of class for ladies. That could be the reason for its scarcity !