Indonesia: Karangasem Market

I love visiting markets when I travel.  The one downside?  The best time to visit traditional markets is more often than not god-awfully early in the day.  The one in Karangasem was no different.

When we told Alec's brother-in-law (who we think is the owner of Jepun Didulu) that we wanted to see the market, we were hoping for directions.  Instead, we got a guide.  Poor Alec was nominated by his brother-in-law to accompany us to the market at 5:30 in the morning.

We hopped on the local bus, which was more like a mini van with two benches, and a few minutes later, we pulled up at the market:

It was packed inside:

We were the only tourists in there, so we received our fair share of curious looks.  At first, still sleepy Alec grudgingly followed us down the aisles.  He must have found our enthusiasm amusing because soon he was smiling indulgently at us while we peppered him with questions.

Thank goodness we had Alec with us.  He explained all sorts of interesting foods to us and also helped us let vendors know what we wanted.

There was everything from sweets:

To fish:

To fruits and veggies and hair ties and other awesome stuff.

We concentrated on the sweets.  We had no idea what most of them were.  We just bought whatever caught our eye, brought it back to our bungalow, and tasted everything after breakfast (yes, we still had breakfast).

A bamboo leaf bundle opened to reveal some kind of glutinous rice disks and shredded coconut doused in brown sugar syrup:

We all agreed that the syrup was a bit too sweet for us.

Sweet dessert soups are the best, except when you get too greedy and ask to combine everything into one order.  CL got a little too excited and asked for a bit of everything in her bag despite the weird looks the dessert lady was giving her.  The final result wasn't the most tasty thing:

Still not sure what was in it.  Different kinds of jellies, coconut milk...and other...stuff.

We got fried bananas and fried glutinous rice balls:

The balls were filled with some kind of brown sugar filling:

Not bad, but they would've been much more appetizing if they'd been freshly fried.

CL was adamant that we get some of these layered rice cakes:

Think sticky rice cake with coconut flavor and food coloring.  I wasn't all that impressed until days later when we had the same thing from a market in Ubud that was much more tasty than these.

On our way out of the market, T got distracted by the vendor selling this cake-like creation:

It certainly smelled delicious.  Until we took a bite and realized it was filled with melted chocolate sprinkles.  Yucky.

A little Googling revealed the name of this little guy to be klepon:

We got a free sample at the dessert stall and as we usually do, we got ready to nibble a bite and then pass it on to the next person.  Except this time, just as CL moved to take the first nibble, the vendor yelled out a warning.  Too late, we found out that you're supposed to eat klepon in one bite because of the liquid filling:

Otherwise you get sugar syrup all over.  Lesson learned.

Sticky mess aside, klepon were hands down the best thing we found at the market that morning.  Definitely on the sweet side, but I could pop two or three no problem.

We were all confused by this package:

It seemed like a hodgepodge of things, all drizzled with brown sugar syrup.  Again, way too sweet.

Another important lesson learned that morning: Indonesian desserts are best in small doses.  Unless you actually enjoy sugar overload.

Oh, and of course, T walked away from the market with two kilos of rambutan.  She's insatiable.  We dubbed her the rambutan serial killer during our trip.


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