JAKARTA: It is estimated that Jakarta has more than 170 malls, according to a research by online real estate marketplace Lamudi, so it isn’t uncommon that some people enjoy spending a few hours in the cool comfort of air-conditioning at one of the city’s many malls.
But for those looking for a different kind of relaxation, spending an afternoon at Pasar Baru (it means “new market” in English) may result in unbeatable shopping bargains and an unforgettable experience.
Built in 1820 and named Passer Baroe when Jakarta was known as Batavia and a Dutch colony, Pasar Baru is one of the oldest marketplaces in the capital. Shoppers can find almost anything here, from food to electronic products, household items and beauty products.
Located in the Sawah Besar area of Central Jakarta, getting to Pasar Baru is easy. Besides taxi or car, the marketplace is also accessible by the local bus service, with a bus stop located right in front of the main entrance. Alternatively, if you are making your way there from anywhere in Central Jakarta, you can hop into a bajaj, or a mini tuk-tuk. It will only cost you US$1 to US$5 depending on the distance.
Sakim, has been driving a bajaj for 17 years. He says Pasar Baru has always been a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. “These days, I have at least 25 passengers a day who want to go to Pasar Baru,” he said.
“I used to ferry more passengers there about 10 years ago, but the number of people who want to go there is still a relatively large number. You get everything there, products from all cultures,” he explained.
A BAZAAR OF ALL SORTS
When you get to the main gateway, the marketplace stretches on for at least 300m. Dozens of vendors sit sprawled on the side of the streets, with mats or low-level platforms that they lay their wares on.
Watches, spectacles, shoes, clothes, wigs, accessories and even old currencies – the list of items on sale is endless. Don’t forget to bargain before you make a purchase.
Housewife Eny Winata said she has been shopping here for almost all her life. “I get almost all my things from Pasar Baru, including household items,” she said.
“I used to come here with my mother when I was a child, and now that I have my own family, it is just natural for me to come here to buy my things. This place is like a second home, and I prefer to buy my things here instead of buying them at a shopping mall; the prices are much better,” she added.
Textile and tailoring shops also line the pathway, with bundles upon bundles of fabric rolled up, and mannequins dressed in a myriad of colours. Visitors can make any garment they want, whether it is a traditional batik outfit, a cheongsam or even an Indian attire at one of the many tailors in the shops. Suits and gowns are also aplenty.
There’s also several shopping centres and local department stores here too.
WRAPPING UP A BUSY DAY
Armed with new purchases and best bargain buys, sampling the local food is a must before you leave.
Baskets filled with eggs and carts carrying local snacks litter the area, some owners peddling cakes that resemble green hubcaps, while others sell a local version of siew mai.
Called siomay, it’s made of steamed fish cakes, potatoes, tofu, cabbage and bittergourd, and the items are accompanied by peanut sauce along with a drizzling of chilli sauce and sweet soy sauce. Each piece costs about US$0.15.
Fresh fruit, fruit juice, water with syrup, coffee and tea, doughnuts … the list goes on, bringing an end to a fruitful outing that may have just been a little more exciting than a regular day at the mall.