Friday, June 28, 2024

Visiting The Traditional Markets Brings A Different Experience

When you travel, try visiting the traditional markets for a different experience. I read that somewhere, or heard it from someone. 

So, when I received the prompt of writing about a traditional or modern market I’ve visited, I scrolled the photos I’ve taken throughout my journey and saw some of the most memorable market visits I’ve done. Unfortunately these market visits were done before the pandemic hit. Needless to say, I would love to visit them again should the opportunity arise.

Inside Jeju Dongmun Public Market

Jeju Dongmun Public Market, Jeju-Do, South Korea
9 Dongmun-ro 4-gil, Jeju-si, Jeju-do, South Korea

Said to be the largest and oldest permanent traditional market in Jeju, the market dates back to the Japanese colonial period. We visited this market as it was on our way to the bus stop from our lunch spot. It was in winter and early afternoon, so most of the fresh items are either gone or just not being sold. We found several street food stalls and decided to snack on our way to the bus stop. It was freezing cold. 

Interestingly, the street food vendors all shooed us away whenever we wanted to take pictures. Even when I’m taking pictures of Dudu. These elderly grandma didn’t want to be in any pictures, so we ended up posing in front of the market gate. Despite their rather rude attitude, the snacks are tasty. I figured, the street vendors might have enough with tourists and content creators. Or it might be my race. I started noticing that they changed their attitude upon seeing Dudu, which is half-white, and upon knowing where I’m from, their attitude changed. 

It was quite an interesting experience. I’m glad I spoke enough Korean then to do basic communications with the grandmas and grandpas in the market. Otherwise, the tasty snacks won’t be on our hands because most vendors don’t speak English.

Back to the snack. Dudu bought Hotteok, a pancake often filled with brown sugar. His friends bought Bungeo-ppang (Fish Bread filled with red bean paste),  which is similar to Japanese Taiyaki. Bungeo-ppang is a popular winter street food.

Desa Wisata Tomok Parsaoran
Kabupaten Samosir, Sumatera Utara 

We visited the shopping area in Samosir Island during our trip to North Sumatera one Christmas Holiday. The traditional market consists of clothing and accessories stalls. Most of them are locally made, bearing traditional motives and pictures.

What makes this market interesting is actually the sellers. We stopped at one stall to buy shirts and had a conversation with the owner. He doesn't live in Samosir Island but rather a place nearby, but he commuted by boat alongside several other vendors each day. He had a son who studied in Jakarta, which made him excited when he heard us coming from the same city. 

The people there love to talk and are really friendly. I met a boy who had never left the island, a woman who returned from a bigger city somewhere in the main island to open a store in her hometown and other personalities. The people are as diverse as the goods they have to offer.

However, the most interesting traditional market visit we experienced was when we were in Bangkok. In total, there were three markets we visited during our week-long trip.

Onnuch FreshMart
On Nut Rd, Phra Khanong Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
BTS On Nut

When we signed up for a cooking class at Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy, unexpectedly it included a trip to the nearby wet market. It’s our first traditional market trip in Bangkok, and surprisingly it was similar to how markets in Indonesia are. Similar fresh meats and seafood, vegetables, fruits and other spices. But if you’re not from Southeast Asia, this market is definitely an interesting journey because you get to see the ingredients you’ll be using. For us, it’s also convenient, because this market is near our hotel. 

The One Ratchada
55 10 Ratchadaphisek Rd, Din Daeng, Bangkok 10400, Thailand
MRT Thailand Cultural Center

This one is a night market where you can find anything, from fashion to food. However, it’s a really crowded one despite us visiting on a Wednesday night, and was really hard to maneuver around. So what we did was make a quick round of the fashion section and stayed by the food area. There was a Durian stall near the entrance, which has some space to breathe and rather delicious Durian desserts. 

Chatuchak Weekend Market
587, 10 Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd, Khwaeng Chatuchak, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900, Thailand
BTS Mo Chit

The most famous market in Thailand is a large one to browse around. It has food, fashion and surprisingly unique local crafts. The fame brought crowds to the market, especially those coming for late-night street food. We had fun going around the market, some of the stores have really unique items for sale. As this is a market, there are moments where we have to haggle for better deals, but most stores somehow gave us a rather reasonable starting price. 

This market can easily overwhelm you due to its size, and we indeed spent hours there exploring and eating. So, if you decide to visit this market, make sure you make time for it and not hoping for a quick stop over. 

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