Palmerah Market: Cart guys

More on the Sidoarjo trip soon, but first, back to the market. Remember the market?

These guys hang out with their old wooden carts on the street just outside the fence. I think they haul loads of goods from the wholesalers who deliver there to smaller vendors at other sites.

Further down the street are other forms of transportation, like bajajs (the little bright orange 3-wheeled taxis) and ojeks (motorcycle taxis).

Palmerah Market: Electronics guy

This small electronics stand packs in a lot of stuff, from custom cables to antennas, a ceiling fan, batteries, power strips and cassettes. You still see a lot of cassettes in Indonesia, especially of local music. They’re the basic level of audio for people who don’t have a lot of cash. On the other hand, there’s also plenty of iPods, mp3-playing cell phones and other gadgets around.

This guy is selling cassettes of Iwan Fals, the Indonesian Bob Dylan, as well as the ballad-y Ada Band, pop sensations Peterpan and others. The huge speaker sneaking into the picture at bottom left is churning out loud pop music.

I think the electronics guy is making a gesture of peace, but he may be threatening to cut off his hair like Britney.

Palmerah Market: Happy hairy fruit

Yesterday felt like the official end to the flood story. We went to check on the tent city refugees, but there were no tents and no refugees. Everybody had gone home. Even the newswires, who’ve done nothing but flood stories for a week, have moved on to other things.

For a lot of people, the story of starting over from scratch is just beginning. I hope to catch up with some of them later, but for now I’ll pick up some threads I’ve dropped, such as the one about Palmerah Market.

Rambutans are the friendliest-looking fruit I know. They’ve got punk-rock hair, but their spikes are way too soft to inflict any damage. (Their name comes from the word rambut, or hair.)

Rambutans at the market

When they’re in season, big festive bunches appear all along the roadsides and in the market.

Rambutan on our balcony

Disregarding the spikes, a rambutan is somewhere between a large olive and a small egg in size. Inside, it’s similar in texture and sweetness to a grape, but with somewhat denser flesh. It can have a bit of citrusy tartness, too. There’s a little pit inside, about the size and shape of an almond.

Rambutans are the sort of thing you can eat by the bowlful, especially if you’re caught up in conversation or reading a good book (which could get messy).

Palmerah Market: Snakefruit

Snakefruit is a crazy little fruit that really does have a textured, snakelike skin. The Pondoh variety, which is supposed to be the sweetest, has been in season for the last few weeks.

The skin is dry and thin. Once you get it off, you find three to five segments of white fruit, of which the larger ones have a stone in the middle. The flesh is similar to an apple in texture, and sweet, but there’s a muskiness there too — like a hint of rot, although definitely nothing on the scale of the infamous durian. It’s good, but it’s moodier than a sweet, easygoing mango or papaya.

Palmerah Market: Fancy fruit

These are the fruit stands inside the market gate, which are a little more elaborate than the ones outside. They’re semi-permanent structures with lighting, and since they have roofs they can hang up a lot of their fruit, which gives them kind of a festive look.

In the first stall you can see various kinds of oranges. There’s starfruit on the far left, and really enormous grapes in the center. In the front of that first stall are snakefruit, which I’ll talk more about later. Further down the row, the funny-shaped white things hanging up in the second stall are apples in protective slipcovers. Chad says the watermelons are good; I’m not a big watermelon fan.

One thing I’ve never figured out is, do the fancy stalls charge more than the less elaborate stalls outside the gate? I suspect not, because all prices are subject to bargaining, and with so much fruit for sale the competition must be pretty fierce.

Palmerah Market: an introduction

I’ve been taking a lot of pictures at the Palmerah marketplace lately. I’ll be posting them gradually, and I figured I’d have some geeky fun first and draw a map to give you a sense of how the whole place is laid out. You can click on the map for a bigger version.


This seems to be a pretty typical Indonesian market design: a sort of hulking concrete building with a maze of little stores inside, and a plaza full of stalls outside.

Inside the building are durable goods like housewares, jewelry and clothes. Produce stays outside. On the second floor of this particular market is a Ramayana department store, your one-stop source for blaring music, junk food and cheap t-shirts.

Here’s the front, taken from where the red X is above. You can see some humble fruit stands in the far-right corner.

And here’s a picture of the road, taken from the humble fruit stands. This road seriously has more public minivans (mikrolet) than any other place I know in Jakarta. Every minivan route for miles around must come through here. They always create a huge smoggy traffic jam. You can see some fuzzy red rambutans in the corner. More on those later.