In my last post I talked about my bird-watching trip to Bali, and about the last day that included some down time in the port city that we flew into and out from.

The afternoon in the city was very fun. I got dropped off with a new friend in the bazaar district and we spent the whole afternoon wandering around there. The bazaar seemed endless—like a maze or a warren of little shops, with fronts open and sides made out of either curtains or bamboo screens.

It was hot and noisy and full of activity. The shop/booth vendors were talking to each other and to shoppers and to random children that were running through.

indiana_jones_art_by_chukgertIt reminded me of scenes from Indiana Jones, with slanty light streaming down into the passageways between booths and dark areas towards the back where I half expected some swarthy, toothless man to slide out and brandish a giant silver curved knife.

There were lots of Chinese merchants selling cheap trinket type things and salty plums and cans of warm soda. There were cloth sellers with bolts and bolts of material. There were tailors where you could take the fabric you’d just bought from the cloth vendor and get it made up into some dress or outfit or sarong or whatever.

There were also food vendors selling things I didn’t even recognize, some alive and some dead, some organic, some not, plus spices and herbs and roots and bottles of syrups and liquids and who knows what all.

It was all so colorful and lively and . . . smelly. Yeah, that got to me just a little. It was the smells of the merchandise and the food and old fish and body odor and everything else mixed in. The fact that there wasn’t much air flow didn’t help. All the smells kinda got trapped and then heated up and marinated, so to speak.

I asked one of the tailors how long it would take to make up a dress. He said two hours. When I laughed like he was joking, he frowned and said, “No funny! No funny! Two hour! You see!”

I decided, on a whim, to get a dress made, since that conversation happened in the early part of the afternoon.

grand-bazaar-shops-istanbulI went back to a cloth vendor and picked out a great print plus a solid, got two meters of the print and one of the solid, and took them back to the tailor.

He had a bunch of patterns to pick from so I selected one, and he took a bunch of measurements, and told me to come back in two hours.

Honestly, I could hardly believe that he could whip out a dress in two hours. I went back after three hours, and there was the finished dress, hanging up and ready to go! I was astounded.

So that was the bazaar shopping experience. I came away with the dress plus a bunch of little wood carvings. And the feeling that I’d experienced a genuine part of Bali culture.

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