Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
I was the brat who always pulled Mom’s skirt so she’d hurry finish her shopping in the traditional market. I couldn’t stand the odor and the muddy floor of the market. Raw skinned chickens gave me the ick. But in the last few years, having lived by myself with my own kitchen and relatively tight budget in order to save up for my travels, I can’t avoid shopping at the traditional market sometimes. The chicken breasts and spinach are cheaper than in supermarkets, plus there’s a market only 10 minutes walk from my flat. Ishai Goran from Market Value in National Geographic Adventure channel narrated that the market is one of the best way you can get to know the local people. Now that triggered me to see what I can find in the markets of Indonesia. So getting in and out of traditional markets is now listed in my agenda when traveling around Indonesia. I haven’t been to many, but Pasar Gede Hardjonagoro in Solo, Central Java, is one of my fun market experiences for me to date.
Located on Jalan Urip Sumoharjo, Pasar Gede (translates to Big Market) Hardjonagoro, or just Pasar Gede, is a 2-storey building with the mix architecture style of Dutch and Javanese. It was called the Big Market because the roof literally looked big, and now the market still lives up to the name being the biggest market in Solo. So big that Kandi and I didn’t get to go around the whole market in the hour we were there just to look around.
We only went around the first floor of Pasar Gede. There were raw and processed fruits, vegetables, herbs, bamboo kitchenware and even shoes sold in perhaps hundreds stalls. Kandi bought some herbal cosmetics (called “lulur”) made of bangkoang, cocoa and coffee for skin softening, and some herbal drink powder for fat shedding. While I bought some peeled and cut jackfruit…just so the pouty lady could get nice enough and let me take pictures of her and her stall 😛 She sold some ripe and sweet jackfruits though, me likey!
We continued walking and looking around the market and..OH MY GOD! There was a stall that read “Dawet Selasih Bu Watik”! Dawet! My most favorite Indonesian traditional beverage of all (that I’ve tasted)!!! My tummy was full but there’s no way I would skip this dawet, especially when I looked closer I saw that it’s different from the usual dawets. The color isn’t as brown and it contains a different filling combination. I had to try it? But what to do with such stuffed tummy? Kandi and I decided to split a portion. Yay!
A portion of Dawet Selasih cost IDR 5,000. (A friend of mine later said it’s actually IDR 3,000 and I might get charged more because they knew I was a tourist, but I’m not sure about this). The small bowl consisted of cendol, ketan hitam (black glutinous rice), bubur sumsum (a kind of rice pudding), some other things and of course selasih (basil seeds). Dawet Selasih tastes savory sweet as a whole, as some of the fillings are sweet and some are a bit savory. I loved it! I hereby announce that Dawet Selasih Bu Watik (Bu Watik is the name of the stall owner I suppose) is now my most favorit Indonesian traditional beverage! Teehee.
Aside from the Dawet Selasih, another memorable thing to me about Pasar Gede was how it’s different from the traditional markets I’ve known. The floor was quite clean, meaning it was tiled and hence it wasn’t muddy at all. (I can’t say much about the smell except that it didn’t bother me, but then I didn’t get to the section that sold raw meat, fish and all the parts of animals.) I heard that their previous beloved Major, JokoWidodo – who’s now the Governor of DKI Jakarta – tidied up all the messy markets in Solo city, and Pasar Gede Hardjonagoro is one of the splendid results I’ve seen other than the PGS. If markets were like this since I was little, I probably wouldn’t be that brat with pouty face every time I followed Mom shopping. 😛
The colorful and uniquely shaped fruits and veggies made the market a great place for photo hunting. Shooting at these things with my pocket camera got us some attention we weren’t looking for, like the sellers asking where we’re from. I’m glad that I didn’t forget to ask for permission to take pictures of them out of courtesy. Having that said, I wouldn’t say being photographed is a new thing for them cos Pasar Gede is one of the tourist attractions in Solo city. At the time I was there, I saw some small groups of foreign tourists taking a tour around the market with their DSLRs. No wonder one of the fruit sellers posed a kung fu strike for me. He was striking a pose! Hahaha…
Guess what. I used to be annoyed with these joker kind of strangers, and would always be too careful with their friendliness. But this time I really enjoyed talking to them and observing a little bit more than usual of the market routine. Well, I guess that showed that intention could really make a difference in what and how you do. And going to Pasar Gede has been one of my reccommendations to anyone who’s going to Solo, especially those who don’t go to the traditional markets much. 😀