Bogor part 1 : The market

One of the nearby places-to-see, just outside of Jakarta, is Bogor. Bogor is the sixth largest city in the Jakarta province and is a bit of everything, but mostly a cultural and tourist center. It’s famous for its sprawling garden park and numerous museums, and serves an industrial and transit hub for the area. Getting there is amazingly easy – there are a lot of commuter trains that run between the cities, similar to light rail or metro trains instead of the long-haul style. We took ours from the station nearest our hostel, Jakartakota.

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Workers mop and sweep the train during major stops.

About an hour out, and we arrive. Bogor is supposed to be ever so slightly cooler than Jakarta so a lot of Jakarta’s residents use it as a weekend getaway. We got off the train and began our wide-eyed exploration.

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 A family gets off the train with us.

Greeting us right out the gate was this view of the station’s ojek parking. The country runs on these things, and while it’s obvious there are tons of them just from watching the traffic, this sea of motor bikes is hard to fathom.

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Motorbike parking at the train station.

Next up, getting me a snack. The delicious banana and nutella sandwiches I’d been having for breakfast were not enough today, so the first food cart in our path was it. It turned out to be exactly like a scallion pancake, minus the scallion. Hot, oily, and delicious.

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My plan for the day was to take us through the market to see and smell, then off to an out of the way noodle vendor for lunch, and then to the famous gardens for an afternoon stroll. The market is about twenty minutes on foot from the station, and along the way I really, really, had to use the bathroom. In a very interesting tourist-only experience, I walked into a large bank and asked if they had a restroom I could use. The guard laughed and walked me out the security hut to let me use theirs. I am almost entirely sure there was a pay toilet somewhere nearby and a local would have been told to go there. In Indonesia being an oddity and clearly foreign confers a good deal of leeway and assistance, and it’s important to not abuse that.

Shortly after this experience of gratitude and mild embarrassment, we came upon a food stall selling what looked like little cakes. Natalie was not interested but I got one. It turned out to be a type of coconut cake, heavy on the coconut. They come out as disks and the vendor cuts them in half and sells them in a bag. I never got the name of this dessert, but it was delicious, and there’s a recipe for something that looks a lot like it here.

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Continuing on our journey we had to cross a mighty big street. Not much bigger than the ones in Jakarta but with traffic going every which way. Despite being used to the standard crossing style from our practice in the city, we hesitated and two officers decided we foreigners needed help. They might have been right. Luckily several other people took advantage of the stopped traffic to cross so we weren’t totally alone. The officers chatted with us for a bit, asked where we were from and where we were going, and told Natalie to hold the camera tight for fear of pickpockets. Then the senior officer asked for a picture! That interaction was great fun, and we headed to the market.

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I am very tall for Indonesia.

Much like South America’s markets, this was a stall-to-shack lined street selling anything and everything edible. The street here were pretty bad – mostly worn cement and dirt. Ojeks and vans had a habit of coming through at regular intervals to block up the street.

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Turning down a quieter street revealed a more cramped but also more interesting side of the market. Here there were only ojeks riding down the road.

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And instead of the previous main stalls of large-quantity vegetables, we met young people selling spices, fruits, and foods of every variety. Every stall we went by was another chat, another set of where why hows, and often a very agreeable picture session. One lady with an amazing smile declined to have a picture taken, saying she wasn’t done up today. These three kids spent the most time talking to us and seemed to have an incredible amount of energy and sense of humor.

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Out of the market and way, way, way down the road, we came to Soto Mie Ciseeng, the noodle place I’d found out about. The food was great but the walk was very long and hot. I’m not sure I’d go back knowing there’s Mie Ahin just around the corner from the hostel.

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The owner was extremely friendly and talked with us while we ate. His business seemed to be doing well judging from the flow of people in and out of the restaurant.

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Our final stop before the gardens was at a cart selling neon-colored jelly and biscuit sticks in a brown liquid. Natalie was caught – what was this strange soup? It’s called sekoteng, and it’s dessert.

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Warm, sweet, and full of different textures. It also comes on ice, but anything iced has a decent chance to cause stomach upset so we went with the boiled version.

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As we ate we had a good view from the vendor-side of the cart. During business hours all of these jars and bowls and jugs are splayed out for display and access, but at night every last one goes somewhere in the cart, what can be folded is, and the cart is packed away until the next day.

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Next time : Bogor’s garden.

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