I never get tired of taking pictures at the markets here but I often don’t like to carry my camera when I’m shopping because I need both hands for the produce selection. Today, I decided to walk past the small fresh market I usually shop at and go to a bigger market a couple of blocks away. And I brought my camera (I really need to give it a name, don’t you think? Suggestions anyone?)
The bigger market is a sensory overload, a madhouse, with large milling crowds, motorbikes weaving through the stalls and foot traffic, lots of different activities, and a much greater selection of fish and chicken vendors inside. Outside, the large building is surrounded by vegetable and fruit vendors, as well as people selling clothes, watches, jewelry, and even someone who looked like a faith healer and had a large crowd circled around a man prone on the ground. I had no idea what they were doing.
I also came across a small group playing “where’s the pea” – you know, there’s a pea or some small object under a shell and you try to guess which shell it’s under. Unfortunately, when I tried to take a picture, a burly guy wanted money. I said no way and he brushed me away. Didn’t like his attitude so I flipped him off, and then we exchanged threatening stares before I waved him off. Not supposed to get into it with the locals but sometimes I just can’t help myself.
One of the reasons I went to the larger market was to price compare with the smaller market. However, all I bought was some chicken – 4 legs and three breasts with wings for Rp48,000 (about $4).
While I have never shopped inside the large market there was one guy in the fish section who knew me from the other market. Knew my whole name. I wasn’t in the market for any fish this trip but they had some amazing choices. I’ve never seen so many Wahoo in one place. I will have to try some next time.
After walking around the vegetable stalls and taking a few pictures I decided I didn’t want to go to different stalls for one or two items and decided to walk back to the smaller market, where the vegetable stand I normally shop has everything I need in one place. I’ve included a picture of the girls who normally wait on me.
I tried to get the individual prices on my purchases, which totaled Rp92,000. 6 large eggs – Rp9000; 6 garlic heads – Rp6000; one yellow pepper – Rp12,000 (yikes! obviously imported); 4 tomatoes – Rp8000; 8 potatoes – Rp6000; 4 onions – Rp4000; 2 cucumbers – Rp4000. FYI, exchange rate about Rp12,500 per U.S. dollar.
Some explanations: When you are buying chicken (ayam), you sort through the selections on the table (whole or cut up), grab what you want and put it on a scale. Then you rinse your fingers in a bucket of filthy water that everyone has washed their fingers in.
And the eggs here are always out in the open, never refrigerated. I wondered about this until I read where in the U.S. they eliminate a membrane in the egg that requires the eggs be refrigerated. They don’t eliminate that membrane here so the eggs are fine out in the open.
At the vegetable stand I like, I just grab a small plastic bag for each item and load in what I want. So, one bag for tomatoes, one for garlic, etc. Then they weigh each bag and then total it all on a handheld calculator. The girls have gotten quite used to me and I really need to get their names next time. They were thrilled to have their picture taken.