I love old-fashioned markets. Whilst they’re on the decline across the UK as more folk shop in supermarkets, they’re still very part and parcel of everyday life here in Bali. They’re a photographers’ delight due to the shadows and light, riot of colours and variety of people and produce. Yesterday morning I popped down to one near where I’m staying.
Pejeng market is typical of the type. It’s a ramshackle rectangular area just off the main road, tucked in behind a row of shops. There’s a multitude of small stalls selling a dazzling array of fresh fruit and veg, some of which I recognise – others not. There was the distinctive salak (snakeskin fruit), huge papayas, bananas of all shapes, sizes and curvatures (Brexit voters beware), oranges, passion fruits, apples, soursop, dragonfruit and more – making up every colour of the rainbow. Some of the vegetables were even more mysterious. It’s easy to identify potatoes, lettuces, green beans and tomatoes as they’re universal, but Bali grows some root vegetables I’ve never been able to put a name to. It’s not just fruit and veg you get in these places either, they’re just like a supermarket (OK, admittedly they don’t have the same hygiene standards, but they’re not as boring either!). At Pejeng you can also buy clothes, toiletries, flowers, ready made offerings to the Gods – and even get breakfast. Every morning, local woman will arrive carrying their makeshift stalls on their heads before setting up shop to sell delicious home cooked food to passers by. Others use scooters with a large metal & glass cabinet bolted to the back to sell skewers of chicken or pork cooked on the charcoal burners. The melange of smells from the stalls is fabulous. Many Westerners look askance at the standards of hygiene so baulk at trying the food – which is a great shame as they’re often missing out on unique dishes they’ll never see on a restaurant menu.
I love spending a few hours people-watching at these markets. The vast majority of the stalls are run by women and they make up the majority of the shoppers too so the places are always full of laughter and chatter. No-one’s upset at the sight of a Westerner with a camera, exactly the opposite. I ended up getting into several conversations as I looked at what was on sale or asked about what stuff I didn’t recognise. At one shop, a woman asked me to get a picture of her with her grandson, then send her a copy. Of course, I was more than happy to oblige. Here’s a few shots from that morning. If you want to see the full selection, head to this page on my website.
One of the butchers stalls. The hygiene standards, lack of refrigeration and the ever-present flies would make most Westerners blanche, but everyone else takes it in their stride.
Most of the fruit and veg in the market would never make it into a European supermarket as it isn’t perfectly shaped, it has blemished skin or it isn’t uniform in size. But it has something far more important: Taste!
A young woman buys Salak fruit (Salacca zalacca) from a stallholder. These distinctive fruits are only found in Indonesia and Malaysia.
A woman prepares a breakfast package for a customer. Each morning this lady will carry her makeshift stall with all the prepared food on her head. It’s a common sight right across Indonesia. I often buy food from ladies like this as it’s home-made, often unique, but always delicious!