Breakfast – lunch – dinner – it’s all here at the market. The market itself, however, is only there from 4am-730am. So my mornings here in Ubud, Bali consist of a mosey on down the street to get hassled, bargain like champ, and eventually end up paying (only?) 2 times the local price instead of 10 time the local price. Like most asian countries, bargaining is common practice here in Indonesia. And it’s also similar to most other asian countries that have experienced the tourism boom of the last 20 years in the sense that locals who live in areas heavily trafficked by ‘pandatang’ (which is Bahasa Indonesian for stranger) often see westerners as ‘walking ATM machines’. Of course this is a gross generalization, but often true. With the number of times over the last year and a half that I have been I have stared at as if $100 bills were flowing from both ears and my left nostril it is one of the few generalizations that wont rob me of any sleep.
On the first day in the market someone tells me 5,000 Rupiah for one banana. That is about 50 cent. I am no master of the fruit trade but 50 cents seems like it is more than I would pay for a banana in the US. So I laugh it off. Later in the week I learn that a fair price for one top quality banana is 1,000 Rupiah, and a small or inferior quality banana would be even less. Being charged five, and even up to ten times the real local of something is standard. But sometimes knowing the real price doesn’t even matter as there are folks who wont even sell their goods for a fair local price to a westerner. Surely their logic is that I am not a local so why would I pay a local price. Lets just call it the hidden cost of traveling. And lets call the privilege of strolling through a lively South East Asian market one of the many rewards of traveling.
While I am at it, please allow me to balance out the negative picture I may have just painted. It would be beyond unreasonable not to acknowledge that the amount of beautiful selfless people whose paths have crossed mine. The orbs of light who have helped me when I needed help exponentially outnumbers the amount of folks who have tried to rip me off. And I don’t mean to blame the ones who ripped me off, or to say they have done anything other than what they should have. It seems as though all we can do as people is meet every situation with love and compassion. I pretty sure thats how this thing works. If someone rips me off – thats perfect. It was supposed to happen that way. If I am smart enough to learn their language and understand how to bargain then thats the way it supposed to happen. So here it is, the soul of Ubud, the ones who have their fruits and veggies all set up before 5am – every single day <3