One of my favorite things to do in any new city is to visit a local market. From the greenmarkets of Manhattan to the bazaars of Bombay, they often give you such a colorful perspective of local culture.
Much of what was for sale at any of the markets we visited was material useful for making offerings, a small canang filled with flower petals and incense and usually some sort of nourishment, like rice. It was interesting to see the motorbikes line the entrances early in the morning, as local workers would pick up the materials (and sometimes premade packages) before heading off to work.
In fact, one of our guidebooks noted that the average household spends at least half its income on offerings. At the same time, much of what is offered is often later consumed in the household’s meals. Offerings may be to ask for blessings, to give thanks, or to ward off demons, and they can only be used once.
The market pictured above, one of the first markets we visited, across from Ubud Palace, actually disappeared completely before we left, removed to make way for a new parking structure to ease congestion.
Perhaps my favorite was a market outside of Gunung Kawi, north of Ubud in Tampasiring. Bustling for just a few hours in early morning light, we saw vendors with just about every cuisine necessity on offer–everything from noodles and shallots to chickens.
The large food market in Central Ubud gets rebuilt practically every day—which is staggering to imagine because it is packed to the brim! With the repetition of certain staples in different vendors’ baskets, one could get a sense of the ingredients giving most dishes their flavor: lime, lemongrass, ginger, chills, tumeric, galangal, basil, and so on.
Sometimes the aromatics got a little… um… intense.
Next: Cremations and Balinese ceremony.