The market days of Bali

The market days of Bali

The Market Days of Bali


Published in Hello Bali – January 2015

I was brought up on a farm, spending my spring days assisting in the calving and lambing that consumed the lives of the farmers. From the rich soils would come our vegetables – turnips, cabbages, potatoes and carrots – so I feel very much at home in the atmosphere of markets, especially those in Bali where every day is market day, and nearly every night too

Will Meyrick in Denpasar 2019

Will Meyrick in Denpasar, 2019

To me the markets are like a second home, as well as where I feel the deepest roots of Balinese culture. Day in and day out there is always something new.

The traditional market of Bali begins early in the morning, with producers arriving to set up their goods to meet the demand from the resellers, who truck their purchases further afield into regional markets, where warung owners arrive to negotiate their daily supplies.

The trade continues through the day, although the markets are at their busiest between eight and nine. The housewives arrive in the afternoon to buy produce for the next day’s meal.

The three best markets to see in Bali are the livestock market of Mengwi, which is right out in the countryside and offers that real Bali everyone likes to think is lost; the Jimbaran’s Pasar Ikan, the wet fish market; and the grand bazaar, literally the Denpasar of Pasar Badung in the centre of Bali’s overlooked capital city. Make sure to travel light, carry a camera and be prepared for a long day.

  Pasar Beringkit

While it is not everyone’s cup of tea, the livestock market, Pasar Beringkit, for me is brilliant, with the pens, the confusion, the hustle and bustle and the rumble of the big trucks entering and exiting the mud-caked parking area.

The steam literally rises from the ground as the animals are carted, carried, dragged, pushed and pulled into their “areas”. The market takes place four days a week. The Tuesday and Saturday markets sell mature stock ready for slaughter, while on Wednesday and Sunday the animals are sold for rearing.

The livestock here is all Balinese. Better bred, healthier meat means higher prices and an average adult beast can fetch between 15 to 18 million Rupiah, while a rearing calf can fetch as much as seven million.

Unlike many other livestock markets there is no auction, just negotiated sales. But while the market lacks the cacophony of the auctioneer there is still much to see and do. Men tussle with the cattle and the laneways are cluttered with pens full of fidgeting foul.

Cows in Pasar Beringkit

Crates, pens and perches full of chickens and ducks are up for sale along every corridor, manned by women who will barter over sales, gossip amongst themselves and whip out their phones at the slightest excuse to include yet more tongues in the conversation.

Crate of ducks

A Balinese food stall

Balinese offerings stall

Out to the edges other creatures are traded with longer lives in mind. Dangling bird cages contain tiny budgerigars, love birds, parrots and little finches while rabbits munch their way through piles of kangkong while waiting to be taken up as family pets, rather than popped in the pot.

It’s a lively market if you can get there at dawn. By midday the bustle has dwindled and the few people left are selling daily goods and foodstuff to the locals with only the muddied footprints and soiled ground to indicate the morning’s activity.

Regular watchers of my YouTube channel will know how much I love to visit markets. I love the level of excitement in the deals and trading and the jokes that pass between the seller and the buyer as they bargain hard and in this episode we are at the Beringkit Livestock Market, the biggest cattle market in Bali. It’s my first time and I am here to buy livestock. It’s really exciting for me as we are selecting the animals for Canggu Cooking Retreat, our home farm, to really bring home our ideals of homegrown sustainable production. I brought our vet with me, she knows a lot more about animals than I do and oh, the fun we had. Like a cat amongst pigeons, this was a woman in a traditionally man’s world and as you will see not only did she cause a stir she also drove a very hard bargain. Share this new experience with me, take note of the tips and who knows you could be taking your very own goat, duck or cow home soon too!

  Sunset: Jimbaran Fish Market

Markets have their own time frames. What is early morning to you is the end of a hard night’s work for the fishermen of Jimbaran’s Pasar Ikan.

Setting out at sunset, the life of the fishermen is a hard one. Some boats come in from as far as Papua, Ambon and the islands of Western Sumatra. Most of what you find in the market is fished from Java, frozen onboard, and ferried in by the satellite fleets that radiate across the seas at night.

Fishermen from Jimbaran Bay

You can find a great variety of fish, including the sword faced shiny black Marlin, yellow fin Tuna, Mahi Mahi, Sea Bass from the deep, and all kinds of reef fish like parrot fish and grouper.

The business of buying has developed into a highly professional operation with standardised weighing machines and pricing scales.

While the operation has modernised the service is the same; the first purchase of the day is greeted with glee, and the money handed over is slapped across the remaining fish to bring them luck. As a customer, you have to know your fish as your bargain barramundi could well be a sea bass in disguise.

Balinese woman behind her fish stall

Catch o’the day!

  By Dusk: Denpasar Badung Market

The most compelling market though is Pasar Badung, Denpasar’s grand market. Although housed in a sprawling storied building, it still spills out into the forecourt and arterial laneways. Luckily this market has bursts of activity that extend its operations throughout the day and into the night. So if an early morning visit is beyond you, you can arrive by dusk and still enjoy the bustling atmosphere of trade that takes place outside after the major market has closed. 

Badung Market, recently rebuilt after a fire


Will Meyrick Markets of Bali
Will Meyrick Markets of Bali
Will Meyrick Markets of Bali
Will Meyrick Markets of Bali
Will Meyrick Markets of Bali
Will Meyrick Markets of Bali
Will Meyrick Markets of Bali
Will Meyrick Markets of Bali
Will Meyrick Markets of Bali
Will Meyrick Markets of Bali
Will Meyrick Markets of Bali
Jogyakarta – So much more than a pretty face…

Jogyakarta – So much more than a pretty face…

so much more than a pretty face…


Published in Hello Bali – January 2015

Jogyakarta is close enough to Bali that you can afford to take a few days from your island schedule to explore this intriguing  part of Java, which while well known is often neglected by the Bali bound. To describe the place as rich in arts and culture is just skimming the surface, for one there is so much art, everywhere !

Will Meyrick in Denpasar 2019

Mbak Marto: A Jogyakarta Icon

But before I get carried away, let’s backtrack a bit, I love art but I am first and foremost a food guy, and I have a confession:  The food of Jogya, was for me not so easy to understand, the flavours that make up the cuisine here are complex, sophisticated and combined with the cooking style produces food that is unfamiliar taste wise for the Western palate.

The savoury tastes are quite rustic if you like, smoky flavours, dusky tones and layered textures is how I would describe it, not immediately accessible but ultimately delicious in its difference.

  Jogyakarta, city of cuisine, culture and creativity

Chicken at Yu Djum

Smoky flavours & dusky tones

Skewers are everywhere!

The food of Jogya represents a cultural cuisine heritage that unlike much of Java is created from the central elements of the land as opposed to external or impositional influences.

There is an authenticity in foods like the Gudeg, jackfruit so sweet as to be cloying yet served with a contrasting Krecek that cuts through and balances this smoky sweetness with layers of intense rustic flavour.

It’s an ancient food, there’s no frying; smoking and grilling yes, and the appearance of what we may think of as mismatched ingredients just deepen the intensity.

No frying but grilling

Smoky sweetness

The famous Nasi Jinggo

Banana blossoms, papaya leaves, quails eggs and chicken gizzards appear in various guises in dishes served from smoky warungs that look like witches covens, full of bubbling pots, glowing coconut husks, racks of smoking catfish and dishes of minced offal and meat, Buntil, parceled up in  caul.

These street cafes, like Warung Yu Djum and Warung Mangut Lele Mbah Marto famed for their rustic cuisine and the presence of the Keroncong singers like Mariachi bands who sing out the songs of the street while eager patrons eat.

Keroncong singers sing out the songs of the street

This indigenous cuisine is a mirror of Jogya, self determined. Still with a highly regarded Sultan in the palace and self governing the Jogya city vibe is relaxed and confident. There’s a strong sense of being in a community be it the centre of town or an outlying suburb you will feel a part of something close knit. It’s a safe city that celebrates its diversity openly. An excellent example of this are the student street stalls of the off the main drag of Jalan Malioboro, hip and cool Angkringan Kopi Joss is full of Nasi Jinggo, Nasi Kucing and Fried Chicken Nuggets, even fried pork is sold from carts into the early morning hours.

The busy side streets of Jogjyakarta

Mats are rolled out along the pavement for young men and women, smoking or  vaping  who lean back and enjoy their evening snack while  drinking the eponymous  Kopi Joss, thick ground coffee served with a lump of burning  charcoal that is meant to offset the acidity of the coffee.

Try it – it’s a real treat. And an insider tip here, get to Jalan Malioboro early in the morning for the market and at other times leave it for the touts and tourists and instead head to the Prawirotaman Market for the sheer joy of the banter between the stall holders. 

  Prawirotaman Market


If you want real insider tips and more Warwick Purser is the man to find. Now an Indonesian citizen Warwick is living in  Jogyakarta and has resided for over forty years in the Archipelago. He has spent his time supporting humanitarian causes and bringing much needed support to post disaster rebuilding from the tsunami to the earthquake of 2006 to the more recent eruption of Mt Merapi. Warwick opened D’Omah as a Boutique Heritage Village Resort as a way to introduce his guests  to the culture of “the village”, and sharing his insider knowledge on extended tours of the surrounding area.

Much of what D’Omah offers inspires my own Canggu Cooking Retreat, this sense you are welcomed into a village community that is sharing its comings and goings is for me such an important aspect of any form of travel. 

Will Meyrick

D’Omah Hotel is located not more than twenty minutes from the city  and authentically Javanese although in a delightful contrast the grounds of the hotel are home to eclectic works of art. A talented recent resident has been Amin Taasha, an emigree of Hazara descent, whose  works are inspired by his early life and eventual escape from Afghanistan.

  Water Palace

Underlining Jogya’s appeal is this continual gracious  acceptance of multiculturalism, even in the village on the way to the Water Palace we came across a multifaith Mosque that welcomes the prayers of any devotee.

The Kraton or Sultan’s Palace is a living museum, home to the current, and progressive Sultan, his wife and five daughters the palace was built in the mid- eighteenth century and is located in the midst of a lovely cool forest which makes it so pleasant to walk around the exhibitions, especially the Wayang Kulit shadow puppet displays.

Here you can daydream from pavillion to pavillion of times past where Java was a place of princes, princesses and evocative mystery stories.

The Water Palace used to be part of the Palace Gardens, a resting place, for meditation and romance, for reflection by the many pools and manicured gardens, these days there remains the pool complex with its tower from where past Sultans would spy on their concubines and the fantastic complex of underground tunnels that once led to private pavilions and still lead to the beach.

The Water Palace hosts a blend of architectural styles from Moor to Hindu, with a distinct Chinese influence and again it is possible to see how when cultures combine an elevation of art and beauty blossoms.

East Java  – Surabaya to Malang

East Java – Surabaya to Malang

I love to travel to East Java, I am surprised so few people take the trip from Bali to be honest, I mean, it is easy to get to, there are trains, buses and planes, you can hire a car with or without a driver and in five days see vast changes of character and climate. Take your time and discover the wonderful East Java cities of Surabaya and Malang.

Here, you can feel almost as excited as the first colonials must have been

I recommend  the short flight to Surabaya: For one thing  it is just over an hour from Bali and the view from the plane is breathtaking, the tips of the volcanoes peak through any cloud cover and you can feel almost as excited as the first colonials must have been as you touch down into a city that bares the marks of the true explorers, the Bugis, the Massakans and the Arabs.

Here  Surabaya’s streets  beat with the ancient history of the Turks, the Moors and the Hadhramis well as the Chinese that approached from the seas to the north. While the architecture of Raffles and his conquering cohorts dominates the physical history of the city if you look further in, into the faces, the markets and the minarets of mosques, you will find true history.

There’s to me an essence of that hard core gypsy living that contradicts the efforts of big cities like Jakarta to placate history with a sophisticated facade. Here in Surabaya there is a rawness that resonates with the earlier rebelliousness of the place.

To me I think it has the appeal of Liverpool or Birmingham, port cities running in ‘second place’ to a capital, yet richer and more rewarding because of it. I love the tangible hard work ethic that pervades the markets and the shops, the way that trading carries on in a similar fashion to the ways of a century ago.

Visit Pasar Bebeng, or Pasar Pabean and see for yourselves, the Maduranese women, the ‘pirates of the pasar’, are running everything in sight and see if you can get past them without comment. They gave me such a ribbing, honestly if it wasn’t for my ability to give as good as I get I would have left with my ‘tail’ tucked well between my legs.

Don’t worry too much though you can  always retreat to the colonial aspects of the town and don for a moment the shield of nostalgia at The Hotel Majahpahit. Here is the original Hotel Oranje  started by Louis Sarkies of the Armenian Sarkies brothers who really were the original luxury hoteliers of South East Asia. With the famed Strand in Yangon and Raffles in Singapore to their name, they commissioned hotels that offered dreams of colonial grandeur despite their own status as emigres and luminaries attending the Majapahit’s opening included Crown Prince Leopold III from Belgium, Princess Astrid from Sweden and English actor Charlie Chaplin.

Oh yes, Surabaya was the city of the Java Jive, and from the early 20th Century until the Japanese invasion and subsequent liberation of the country,  a heady and exotic mix of ethnicities including Muslim Yemeni  and Buddhist Chinese, the Calvanist Dutch and the Islamic and Hindu Javanese mingled in relative peace.

This is the Surabaya to discover, the city, one time larger that Jakarta, a competitor to Hong Kong and Shanghai and the largest city in the Dutch East Indies

In the summer the Surabaya elite retreated to the hill city of Malang where eventually Dutch colonials built their bungalows, and today golden apples still grow and small canals are traversed by arched bridges alongside pretty cottages bedecked with flowers and domestic cats in a miniature version of Dutch urbanity

Tasting Tips


Rawon Rampal, Jalan Panglima SudirmanBeef stews, soups and curries.

Depot Hok Lay, Jalan KH Ahmad Dahlan – Lumpia and Noodles Cwie Mie 


Try Indonesian street food like Sate Klopok and the foods of the Arabian diaspora such as  Nasi Kabuli, Kuri Kambing and the Perenakan or Nyonya foods of the Chinese Malay culture.

Between Surabaya and Malang there is at least a week of adventure to be had and planning a tour can be a good idea. If you, like me,  love adventure and bikes look no further than Infinity Mountain Biking for their nine day East Java tour that includes a trip to Mount Bromo.

Will Meyrick

Whatever you do and wherever you go in East Java you will feel all the richer for it. 

Captured by this ‘olde worlde’ charm the city of Malang is a marvellous mirage, seemingly full of budding intellectuals who are fervent and ardent in discussions that desire to shape the nation of the future. The many cafes and warungs are bursting with a student population drawn to this hub of academia, here they feast on an excellent beef soup called Rawon and noodle dishes, Cwie Mie or Pangsit Mie and the cakes and breads that can be found everywhere but nowhere better than the Tugu Bakery.

The Tugu Group happens to be one of my favourite hotel groups precisely because they are not a group, they are a family. At the Hotel Tugu  Malang you will find the history and architecture of Malang spread before you with artifacts, gallery displays  and entire rooms given over to histories from the myths and legends of the Ramayana to contemporary stories of Eastern Javanese history. 


Resident or not the Hotel Tugu is a must visit, from early morning coffee to afternoon teas the hotel draws you into its unique and heady atmosphere of Dutch colonial era heritage , Indonesian and Chinese cultural fusion and the humble beauty of traditional Indonesian art and craft masterpieces.

Spending a day exploring on bicycles is easily arranged through the Hotel Tugu, grab a becak – cyclo rickshaw- to visit local warungs or hire a taxi for a day to take you out to the tea and coffee plantations that adorned the surrounding hillsides.