Jul 30 2012

Pasar Badung, Denpasar

Published by at 2:03 pm under Shopping


The thing about Pasar Badung, Denpasar‘s main market, is that you’ve got to get up early to make the most of it. Early. I arrived shortly after 07:00 on my last visit, all bleary-eyed and self-congratulatory, but still felt like I was late to the party, even though the market’s open, in theory at least, around the clock.

The classics are here.

The classics are here.

I went as part of a cooking class at Hotel Tugu, but even if you just plan on slinking around your hotel pool in Kuta or Seminyak for most of your holiday, this is a great little side trip you can do in just a couple of hours (if you do get up early and beat traffic) to get a taste of, as they call it in the business, “the real Bali“.

As well as the local stuff: bumbu (spice paste) Bali or grated coconut, anyone?

As well as the local stuff: bumbu (spice paste) Bali or grated coconut, anyone?

Wear sturdy shoes, as the floors are lined with rotting fruit and vegetables, and if you’re going to buy something, prepare to bargain hard.

Limes and soursop.

Limes, ugly limes and soursop.

This is a market targeted at locals, and as Heinz von Holzen warned me at his own Bumbu Bali class, if you buy something at such a market in Bali, “They’ll eat you alive.”

Just a small bit o' banana stem please.

Just a small bit o’ banana stem please.

I don’t think they’ll quite do that, but you may well pay a little more than locals do, though when you’re talking about a bag of mangosteens or a banana leaf pocket of coconut sweets smeared in palm sugar syrup, it’s not going to break your bank.

Sweet fruits.

Sweet fruits.

If, however, you plan on buying something like vanilla — which Bali is renowned for and if you enjoy baking I would strongly recommend you do buy — do your research to find out the going rate first. Whatever you do, don’t buy saffron — it’s pretty much never real in Bali, and you’ll end up with a stack of safflower instead.

Drinks/desserts. Pandan gives you green, black rice pink.

Drinks/desserts. Pandan gives you green, black rice pink. Coconut oil goes in the water bottles, obvs.

Spices are up on the second floor and that’s where you’ll see some other interesting dried stuff, like the seaweed below. The seaweed itself isn’t eaten, but the carrageenans it contains helps give Balinese desserts their glutinous hold.

Seaweed still life.

Seaweed still life.

It’s interesting to see that while all the fresh stuff is here, so is the packet stuff, often laden with MSG — which, think of it what you will, has been used in Asian cooking forever.

Even Bali cooks need help sometimes.

Even Bali cooks need help sometimes.

As usual when it comes to Southeast Asian wet markets, the meat section isn’t for the queasy. But it’s interesting, that’s for sure. There were some chickens there, getting all up in arms about stuff.

Lotsa legs.

Lotsa legs.

And you can ponder the age old question of which came first, of course.

This was eggsactly the sort of eggsample I wanted to show you.

This was eggsactly the sort of eggsample I wanted to show you.

Porters are for hire — like this woman with the basket on her head, below. Though if anyone approaches you to act as a guide, turn them down as you can follow your nose here, with the market just three storeys high. Fresh produce is on the ground floor, spices and dried goods up a floor, then ceremonial type stuff is at the top (the bigger general market across the river, Kumbasari, has tourist trinkets). That’s the general rule, with plenty of bits and bobs otherwise, though.

See me walk so straight and tall...

See me walk so straight and tall…

If you want to spend a little more time in this area — aside from at the other market across the river — do check out the fabrics of Jalan Sulawesi just outside, and stop for a coffee while you’re at it.

Pasar Badung
Off Jalan Gajah Mada, Denpasar
Open around the clock

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