The market is a maze to keep the visitor dazed. It’s a concrete trap – disguised with bamboo and exotic textiles. The odor of an uncountable amount of stale scented offerings boxed in little bamboo squares encourage you to ask about the items on sale, as a way to distract yourself.
“What’s that?” you’ll point, and the owner of one of the thousand cluttered stores will grin with blackened teeth, and say, “baggy golden pants. Look good on you, yes? 100,000 Rupiah!”
I only went to the market today, to buy a toothbrush (as part of my 24 things before I hit 24). But I came out with a bamboo hat, golden baggy pants, a parasol, a Bintang singlet, a fake prada bag, sunglasses, a wooden rice spoon, and a sari. I think I spent more than 650,000 rupiah but it’s a bit hard to tell.
When I went back to the forest the monkeys leaped on me to see what I got. They were disappointed.
“I thought you were going to the DVD store to get Gossip Girl,” Abu howled.
“Shut up!” I said. “I got you a rice spoon.”
“You bought the hat for 60,000!” Chompy smirked. “I could have got the barter down to 10,000.”
There are morals to this story. Buy a toothbrush before you get gum disease. Keep track of how much money you take into the market. Take a local with you. Work out how much you’re actually paying for something. Don’t let the cheap currency fool you.