Friday, May 7, 2010

To Pasar Besar

Well, this morning, my older daughter and I 'conquered' the large market in the center of town. It's name is Pasar Besar, meaning "Big Market." The name is very appropriate - it was quite a cultural experience! Sorry there are no pictures. Maybe next time...I kind of wish I had taken my camera, but I didn't want to lug it around (it's on the large side) and I didn't want to be a tourist. I was actually shopping!

Here are links to a couple pictures on other sights:
From the street
A seller in her booth
I couldn't find any good pictures of the halls to help you imagine the inside.

At first, every store keeper was asking me, "From what?" People everywhere ask us "From where?" We're very preconditioned to expect this question. I answered them as I always do without much thought: "From America!" Then, I realized they were asking "What are you looking for?" (Which sounds very, very similar, especially with a Javanese accent). Oh well. I adjusted my responses accordingly after that! (You have to learn to laugh at yourself during language learning!)

The size of this place is overwhelming. The stores are more like booths with merchandise from floor to ceiling. The most compelling feeling comes from the narrow, crowded halls, which are just wide enough for two people to pass in most places. The whole structure is just an enormous grid of small shops, with halls crossing in both directions. I'd guess the place is 50 yards wide and at least three times that deep; we never actually could see out the back. Oh yeah - there are TWO FLOORS!

You could find lots of interesting local things. There were a lot of clothes, shoes, head coverings and accessories. There is an area which sells jewelry; you can buy DVD's for really cheap. There are little booths that sell prepared food scattered throughout. There's also fresh fruits and veggies for sale. There is a whole section which is a meat market. We've been told it's kind of gross in there, so we only passed by the edge of that. The smell and view from there was enough. We bought a couple of things. Everyone initially told us the goods were at a fixed price, which is just not true. They said they'd already lowered the initial price to an appropriate level. But, we ended up successfully bargaining a bit! Probably not as much as we could have, but we're definitely getting better at that game.

We were very tired after shopping in there for a couple of hours. We were glad to get back home in time for nasi goreng (fried rice) for lunch!

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