June 26, 2007

A labyrinth of scents and color

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Also along Jl Raya and no more than a 2 minute walk from the Bungalows is the Ubud Market. This was easily one of the places I was most excited to visit. In fact, we went to the market three times, once every day that we were there. Marilyn, the sweet lady manager of our bungalows, taught us an invaluable lesson in one of her many emails to me before my trip: always start your haggling with 30% of their asking price, you will usually end up agreeing at 50%. They are always willing to sell even at the smallest of profits, if they don't agree to what you're willing to pay that means it really is too low.

Armed with this strategy and some techniques I've learned through the years in dealing with persistent-to-the-point-of-being-downright-rude vendors under my belt, I proceeded with confidence. Looking back now I realize I should have expected it but during that first visit, I was taken by surprise when we found ourselves dealing with some of the most amiable sales people in the world. With each stall we passed I felt my guard come down a notch until it was gone. There was none of the hassling and tugging and glaring (when you wouldn't buy) that I expected. Sure, some were gently persistent but reasonably so. They were trying to make a living, after all.

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they don't call these the Spice Islands for nothing

What did come in handy was the haggling strategy! There isn't much you won't find in this two-story marketplace, you could shop to your heart's content. I should have listened to Marilyn when she told me to "bring an empty suitcase!". If i wasn't so worried about excess baggage expenses, I would have bought an empty suitcase there (yes they had those too) for everything that I wanted to buy. There was saffron and sarongs, masks and mats, art and antiques, wood carvings and stone carvings, hammocks and handbags, guitars and gongs, paintings and plates, kites and curry. And this was just the ground level. Out in the courtyard, we stumbled onto heaps of fresh produce, donuts the size of frisbees, a mountain of chilis, flowers used for offerings and more sarongs. The second level was a maze of batik fashion, table linen, shoes, bags and toys.

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in my best Cookie Monster impression: "COOOOOKIEEEEEE!!!""

A pre-dawn shopping trip for ingredients for our Balinese cooking lessons allowed us to witness the market at it's busiest. Fish and fowl and pig and greens abound, and yet surprisingly there is no stench. It was still cold and dark out, but already the market was abuzz with women from Ubud and nearby villages filling baskets balanced on their heads with foodstuff to feed their families for the day. In a traditional Bali home, there are no refrigerators because everything is bought fresh every day. The few items bought in slightly larger quantities to last a few days are onions, shallots and garlic. I love this concept, it's so... French Women Don't Get Fat .

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Who you calling chicken legs?!

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Assembling offerings for the day

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Last picture added especially for Rowena ;)

25 comments:

nina said...

I love traveling vicariously through your blog Christine! For some reason, I really like your chicken legs shot. Awesome framing!

M.Tan said...

Great market photos Nena. Looking at the spices makes me want to go to the Spices store and just wallow in the aroma.

ScroochChronicles said...

Nice!! I love markets. Whenever I get the chance to travel, I usually head for the markets. They say that the towns soul is in the market. This is where you see the locals, and their produce, in the raw. Great!! Love your pics. BTW, my real name is Cookie so I got a real kick with your Cookie Monster spiel :)

christine said...

Hehe Nina I love that shot. I was so amused by the sight I had to shoot it. :) Congrats again on the MB article!

Hi Mila, thanks! :) I went nuts with the spices. And browsing all those spice tables made me wish we had more spices indigenous to our country so they would be just as affordable as these are to the Balinese.

Haha Coookiieeeeeeee!!! I say amen to everything you said about markets. I've repeated that so often in this blog that I was afraid I'd start sounding like a broken record. :)

rowena said...

Incredible! The colors in those photos...simply wonderful, no, make that EYE CANDY to look at and pretend that I was there. But your mention of donuts the size of frisbees made me hope to see one here. The size of frisbees?? Would've loved that one!!

Rina said...

I love your photos of the market! I read somewhere that a great travel photo makes the person seeing it feel,taste,smell and hear what it is to be there....I want to go to Bali the next time I travel! Thanks Christine for sharing =)

grumpyurbanslacker said...

Fantastic shot of the donuts! :D

ANNE CASTRO said...

i miss! miss the ubud market! i want to go back!

oggi said...

I love your photos... and those family size donuts!

P said...

kicking myself now for NOT making a trip to Bali when i could. awesome pix, as usual.

christine said...

Hi Rowena, I posted the photo just for you! :)

Thanks Rina, glad you enjoyed the photos. I hope you can make it to Bali sometime, when you see a chance, take it! You won't be disappointed. :)

Hehe thanks GUS. No idea why I left it out in the first place. And would you believe I didn't even try it. Shame shame...

Hey Anne, me too! I didn't even get to see the entire market. Next time I swear I'm getting a balikbayan box to put everything I wanna buy in.

christine said...

Thanks Oggi! BTW, been meaning to ask you if it's just me or are comments turned off on your site? Sometimes I can't find the link to comment.

Thanks P! It's never too late to go you know. ;) We missed you tonight at Kublai's!

LADY LUXIE said...

UUUUuuuuuh'..how interesting..hm'...me' thinks I would consider going too!

Thanks for generously sharing your experience!

joey said...

Wow! I would have loved that morning market foray (and gone nuts with the spices)! :) Gorgeous pix nens :) I love the chicken feet, and butts! Hehe :)

oggi said...

Oops, sorry, I already fixed the comments button. Sometimes I disable comments for some (political) posts.;D

christine said...

Lady Luxie, you're welcome. I'm happy that the journaling of my trips for my own personal benefit is enjoyed by others at the very least. And if it inspires others to go out of their comfort zone and explore more of this wonderful world we live in, I'm ecstatic! :)

Thanks, Jo! Sarap pisil-pisilin no? ;)

Oggi, no problem. I just wondered if maybe you didn't realize it, because that happened to me some time ago with 2 of my posts. Turned out to be a bug in Blogger. :)

Marianne said...

I love reading your post about your travels. Somehow it gives me an idea what it's like in other parts of the world.

christine said...

Thanks, Marianne. :) That's one of the reasons I love reading travel blogs too. Aside from the fact that I get to live vicariously through them, I also love seeing everything through another peson's eyes, whether its a new place or somewhere I've already been to.

Midge said...

Oh, Christine! I've never been to Bali and your posts are suddently prompting me to scope out tickets and accommodations all of a sudden!

Cute Cookie Monster impression (boy, do I miss old-school Sesame Street!), BTW. Oh, and what were those candy-sprinkled doughnut-like things at the bottom of the post? Seriously fancy rice cakes?

christine said...

Hi Midge, those are doughnuts! The smaller ones in the picture are of average size, and then they had these gigantic ones I couldn't help take a photo of. :) I miss old-school sesame street too!

Anonymous said...

Wow! it's so clean over there.

christine said...

It sure was! Everywhere, Bali was immaculate. Even the wet market had no smell. I don't know how they do that.

SiBuduhMan said...

The donuts are usually used to top the gebogan (tall fruit offerings with a banana trunk base) before being topped off with an elaborate canang and cili (two palm leaf offerings). Here's a picture of an array of them:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/awabi_mushi_77/264012472/in/set-72157600054236409/

Also, Ubud market is a good place to start, but for indigenous Balinese fabric (endek), it's better to go to Gianyar. And for masks, if one wants to get high-quality masks, there are a couple of carvers along Jln. Hanoman past Pengosekan in the village of Lodtunduh, south of Ubud. There are also famous maskmakers in the villages of Singapadu and Batuan - but their prices reflect their high quality.

christine said...

Gebogan - that's what it's called! Thank you so much for the lesson and link to the pictures, I really appreciate that. :) Those are great shopping tips too. Thanks SiBudhuman!

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