Visiting an Indonesian Market

Sophomore Annie Ryan was kind enough to share one of her Indonesia journal entries with us. She writes:

In the summer of 2011, I seized the wonderful opportunity to spend a month in Indonesia as a part of CSOC 312, Indonesia and Southeast Asia in Cultural Context. During the academic portion of the trip, we spent each day aiding our classmates in their research on their specific topic in Yogyakarta. This is a journal entry I made about one of our adventures in an Indonesian food market, or pasar.

Yesterday, we went to a traditional food market after class. My classmate Katie’s project is on food and class—and there was definitely A LOT of that there (and by class, I mean poverty). The entire place reeked of dead fish and fresh meat—there was an entire floor (out of four) only selling dried fish. It was definitely difficult for me to stomach the smell, but I certainly didn’t want to be making a scene in the market, so I acted like a trooper. On other floors, we saw things like dead bats, fried and fresh buffalo skin, battered and fried buffalo hearts, fried eels… the list goes on! One of our Indonesian student friends accompanied my group of four, and she helped us bargain with vendors and showed us probably 20+ fruit species that I have never seen or heard of before. There are a lot of lychee-like fruits here, with hard outer shells and sweet white fruit inside. We also saw oranges that looked like limes, melons that looked like wrinkly cucumbers, apples imported from Washington, and, of course, deliciously fresh pineapple, mango, papaya, and guava. Mango season is ending (or over?), but I still managed to find a woman selling some and I bought a kilo (5 mangoes) for 10,000 Rupiah (~$1.00). They’re green on the outside, but so ripe that they melt in my mouth!

After that, Arista and I headed back to Malioboro (a street crowded with vendors close by) and I successfully bargained for two things: a wallet and pants. I even managed to have a small conversation in Indonesian with someone! I didn’t say anything more than yes or no (ya and tidak) but I was able to understand almost everything he said. When I say I’m American, I almost always get a big smile and and some “Obama!” shouts. Obama’s apparently pretty popular here. Other highlights: I had fresh mango and avocado juice from a stand and Arista and I made it back for the second time in our taksi alone!

Now it’s Wednesday afternoon. After language class, we went to the sultan’s palace on a small tour. The sultan is adored here, and Yogya is one of two “special provinces” of Indonesia that has an alternative political system. Although there have been movements toward establishing a democratically elected leader, many people (most?) like having the sultan. We didn’t get to see much of his palace because some of it was under construction, but our tour guide was very friendly and, after telling us the details of his circumcision, he invited us all over to his house to learn gamelan—he’s a gamelan music teacher. What a nice gesture, to invite 12 people into his house on a Saturday or Sunday night! We think we might take him up on the offer.

This is the first time that we’ve had a free afternoon—we usually have activities or assignments planned, but today’s activity is a nighttime one. My classmate’s project is on backpacking tourism, so we’re going to hit up all the popular backpacking bars and restaurants to try to observe and interview them. Apparently the ubiquitous backing food is banana pancakes—am I the only one who didn’t know that? We’re all looking forward to a break from white rice and cooked vegetables tonight! We might even splurge on some pizza, which apparently often has odd toppings like frozen peas and corn.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s