Home Asia Village Markets | Indonesia

Village Markets | Indonesia

by Emma November 10, 2014 1 comment
Lombok Sasak Market

Markets Make the World Go Round


I come from a land dominated by towering supermarkets with larger-than-life produce sections containing everything from local fare to exotically sourced produce and products (read : traveled 10,000 miles). Avocados are not always in season and neither are pineapples. But big companies make this a reality for supermarkets by exporting from various countries around the world to feed the ever-growing demand for everything, all the time, anytime.

It is easy to forget that many cultures rely solely on what is in season, and not what they wish. A trip to the local market is an easy way to decipher what fruits and vegetables are abundant at that time of year.

Market Finds

In many corners of the world, local still reigns supreme. In America that means farmer’s markets, in Indonesia that means the only market.

My market trips were usually just to buy produce, so I do not have as many pictures as I would like. I also have this little problem, as some of my close friends know, that I strongly dislike bringing my Nikon around in Third World countries. It makes me feel like an asshole. It makes me seem like an asshole. But sometimes, I put the strap on my shoulder, hide the camera with my sarong and shoot from my hip. No focusing, no settings, just blind shooting to see what I come up with.

All of the following photographs are from the Kuta, Lombok weekly markets. Every day the market sold fish, twice a week it sold everything from bananas to shampoo. It was the sole market for the busy town, where most of the locals did their weekly shopping. 

Lady ShoppersStocking up on garlic, shallots, chillies, dried beans and legumes.

SpreadWhile most of the vendors simply laid their goods out on a tarp, other more entrepreneurial ones built tin roof areas, especially handy in the rainy reason.

Market KnivesHand fashioned knives. I purchased a smaller curved blade knife with a carved handle for an inflated price, around $5 USD. After haggling, the man still giggled to himself and I could hear him saying “silly white girl” to his friends in Bahasa. I don’t mind, the knife is beautiful and one of a kind.

Squid LadyOne of the daily fish vendors. Every morning after the night fishing crew comes in, they set up their catch and wait for their customers. It makes for an especially smelly morning routine.

Spice BuyingBefore a sale the goods are weighed, so as long as you can agree on a price beforehand, you won’t receive less than what you asked for.

Chili BagsSpices and Fish Paste


Fish LadiesThe earlier you buy your fish the better, for refrigeration is non-existent and the sun brings the temperatures up to the high 90’s before noon.

Dried seafoodThe safest bet for keeping fish around longer is smoking it. Smoked fish is available at the markets and by roadside vendors. You can often see the smoking on the side of their house.

Dried Fish

Market Greens2The markets also sell individually packed salt, flour and sugar. They will take a massive sack (about 10 pounds) and distribute it into smaller, more manageable quantities for families.

Dried OctopusDried octopus on a stick. Not something I decided to try, but it was beautiful to photograph. Probably one of the few times I took out my camera to take the photo head-on.

Market Cosmetics
Markets also sold toiletries, such as shampoos, essential oils, baby powders, body wash and lotions.

Kuta Bay HomestayThe madness outside my temporary home at the Kuta Bay Homestay. It was thrilling to see all the goods arrive and come in on cimodos, horse-drawn carriages. Oftentimes it carried the goods and the entire family.

CimodoA cimodo coming to fill up with groceries.


Whenever I feel particularly fed up with the grocery store produce section, I remind myself of the madness in the markets of Asia, turn around and walk out the door. It was a refreshing experience to bypass the middleman at the grocery store. Buy local. Buy in season. Farmers’ markets are where it’s at, you may not step in horse shit, nor accidentally trod on dried chillies, but you will be helping those who need it most.


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Indonesian Eats: My Culinary Journey | Global Frolic January 16, 2015 at 4:01 pm

[…] For more on Markets in Indonesia, see my post on Village Markets. […]


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