Photo Essay: The Two Faces of Ubud’s Market
At first glance Ubud’s market on Jalan Raya Ubud may seem as a tourist trap. Be brave enough to dive in, and I promise, there is much cultural exchange, bargain shopping and laughs to be had. Stalls are brimmed with beads, Buddha, barong and Balinese traditional carvings, silver jewelry, strands of pearls, handmade leather bags, Batik scarves, pashminas, knock off watches and wallets and clothing.
The first time I visited the market was last February on a humid afternoon. I was on a tour and the Ubud market was a stop along the way. I was with two friends. Our guide cautioned us to bargain. Not knowing entirely what that meant, we went in with a plan of “Good Cop/Bad Cop.” If one of us saw an item we liked, the other would play Bad Cop and complain that the price is too high and be in a hurry to walk away. Not wanting to insult the sellers, we made sure to ask for a fair price. Being prepared to walk away was the trick. If bargaining was deadlocked, we walked away and were called back 95% of the time. Sure, some sellers wouldn’t come down on the price, but they were in the minority.
Fast forward and year and half later and I am back in Ubud’s market. This time it was at 9a.m and it was a completely different market. My friend and I were part of a Balinese cooking class. Our chef/instructor took us there to shop for ingredients. Golden marigolds, white frangipanis, burning incense and palm fronds abound for daily offerings to the Hindu gods for good luck. Tiny brightly colored pink, orange and yellow cakes and other baked goods filled the stalls instead of the jewelry and souvenirs that I was accustomed to the year before. This was the traditional market. In the morning, the Ubud market is filled with fruits, flowers and vegetables.
When you are in Ubud, head south on Jalan Monkey Forest Road. At the intersection of Jalan Raya Ubud, turn right, walk a short distance and enter the market.
BEST TIMES TO GO:
The traditional market is from 5am until 9am.
Shop for keepsakes and gifts after 10am when the market transforms.
Check out my first video of Bali. “Bali the Beautiful.”