All Traditional at Prembaen Market

26 comments
Asia, Indonesia
Stink Bean, Red Chili and Lime

Stink Bean, Red Chili and Lime

On my latest visit to Semarang – my hometown – I got the chance to go to a lively traditional market which sits in an unassuming small alley not too far from the Chinatown. Prembaen – the name of the alley after which the eponymous market is named – is filled with small makeshift kiosks and stalls every morning. Fresh vegetables, fruits, spices and traditional snacks vendors share this tiny alley with the vendors of farm produce such as meats, chickens, eggs and even frogs.

What I like the most from this market is its cleanliness, among other things. In other traditional markets, fresh produce waste often accumulate on the floors, which in turn keep hygiene-minded people away from such places. However, all vendors at Prembaen Market are well-disciplined to keep their kiosks and stalls clean and tidy. One of my first impressions toward this market was the absence of unpleasant odor which is usually the first thing everyone would smell upon entering a traditional market.

Nevertheless, many traditional markets are disappearing fast, replaced with modern and bigger hypermarkets which are usually air-conditioned and conveniently located in the city center. I myself always go to such modern markets to buy the groceries. But my visit to Prembaen Market reminds me of what most traditional markets have to offer: warm conversations with the vendors.

When I took my camera out of the bag, some vendors chatted with each other. “Let’s pose, he is taking some pictures,” one of them said out loud and the others chuckled. I felt pure warmheartedness in this place, unlike the business-as-usual mentality that I always encounter when I shop at more modern markets.

“We’ll get famous,” one of the vendors added. I grinned at her.

Finding such clean and pleasant traditional market in Jakarta might be a challenge. But I hope Prembaen Market and other lovely traditional markets elsewhere keep thriving despite the fierce competition from the more modern retailers.

When was the last time you went to a traditional market?

Winged Bean

Winged Bean

Garlic, Shallot and Lime

Garlic, Shallot and Lime

Dragon Fruits

Dragon Fruits

Cassava and Turmeric

Cassava and Turmeric

Long Bean, Cucumber and Tamarillo

Long Bean, Cucumber and Tamarillo

Kangkung (Water Spinach)

Kangkung (Water Spinach)

Dried and Salted Anchovies

Dried and Salted Anchovies

Smoked Rays

Smoked Rays

Frogs

Frogs

Cow's Tongue

Cow’s Tongue

Traditional Snacks

Traditional Snacks

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Based in Jakarta, always curious about the world, always fascinated by ancient temples, easily pleased by food.

26 thoughts on “All Traditional at Prembaen Market”

  1. Wow, you see how interesting your own hometown actually is! The shots are great and especially the tongue and the frogs make an impact 🙂

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    • Semarang is indeed very interesting. Some people even come to this city only to try its local delicacies. Have you tried cow’s tongue before? If you haven’t, you should Emiel! 🙂

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      • Actually we did when we were in Japan. We didn’t know what is was after we finished the dish. The cook didn’t speak English so pointed towards his tongue….it was very nice however!

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      • Oh, that’s funny! 🙂
        It reminds me of my communication problem with a taxi driver in Bangkok who spoke zero English! He didn’t even understand numbers.

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  2. This is so interesting! The photos of the different types of produce are beautiful, and I’d love to know a bit more about some items, like the dragonfruit. I’m going to go to the market soon to buy some very different items (apples, rhubarb, tomatoes, asparagus, eggplant most likely). Food says so much about our different cultures.

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    • You are so right, Denise! Food does say so much about different cultures. I haven’t tried rhubarb before though and I’ve always wanted to since I saw it on TV a few years ago in a rhubarb pie. Dragon fruit is quite common in Asian markets. It’s very refreshing and not too sweet. But I know some people who are not too enthusiastic about it. But you have to try! 🙂

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  3. Lady Sparrow says:

    I love traditional markets in Java!! Dagangannya seger2, trus mbok2 yang jualan juga ramah2.
    Itu kodoknya sangat menggoda.. Hmmm swikee..kodok goreng mentega…
    Gethuk-nya juga nikmat tuh kayaknya.
    Jadi kangen pasar di Magelang dan Jogja..

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  4. Love this post Bama – your shots are so vibrant and full of colour! Did you end up taking photos of those friendly vendors? I doubt you would find people like that here in hard-nosed Hong Kong.

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    • Thanks James! One time I decided to bring my camera and I was welcomed by those colorful produce. Unfortunately I didn’t take any picture of them. Maybe on my next visit!

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  5. Strange how I love visiting markets when I travel and yet, have no pictures of local markets! Your images are fabulous!

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    • That was the first time I visited a traditional market with my camera. I felt like I needed to bring it and I’m glad I did!

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  6. Living in India I keep going to traditional markets all the time…but not all are such clean ones…

    Btw I loved your pics so much…so much freshness in them! Brilliant 🙂

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  7. Halo mas, salam kenal. Suka banget sama fotonya and btw saya juga punya beberapa foto di pasar Prembaen. Entah kenapa dagangannya “foto-able” di situ hehehe

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    • Halo mbak, salam kenal juga! Thank you banget ya commentnya. Sebenernya saya udah beberapa kali ke sana, tapi pas kali terakhir kepengen aja bawa kamera dan memang foto-able sih. Tempatnya juga gak kumuh.

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  8. Halo mas,salam kenal
    Aku lihat disalah satu fotonya ada buah buni..hmmm sudah jadi buah yg langka di tempatku,kangen bgt sm buah itu,mulut jd cemong..

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    • Halo salam kenal juga!
      Nah saya tuh justru banyak gak tau nama buah-buah gitu. Pernah denger buah buni sih, tapi gak tau bentuknya gimana. Ternyata yang itu ya. Thanks infonya!

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  9. Hi Bama, I love visiting traditional markets. I feel they’re good places to get an authentic taste of local vibes. I enjoyed reading about your warm and fun encounters with the market vendors. It put a smile on my face. I know its sad that when traditional markets get modernized; you lose that kind of genuine interaction.

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    • Very true, Marisol. There are certain things that we can’t get from modern markets. I feel that the vendors at traditional markets are warmer and friendlier. There are times when you feel like they know you personally.

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  10. katrina says:

    anywhere in the world I visited I always love to go to their wet market..it’s always colorful…and the floating market in Bangkok was awesome :)….
    there’s many choices of fresh veggie and fruits in these wet markets and sometimes there are things I never find in Malaysia…

    In Indonesia especially, I’ve been to Medan, Bandung, Jakarta, Surabaya, Bali and Aceh but the only wet market I visited was in Medan…that’s because we stayed in our family friend’s house in the Polonia area…and it was a thrilled experience.. 🙂

    but if in Kuala Lumpur, I seldom go to the wet market coz my mama only prefer to go to the supermarkets or hypermarkets..she said it is more organized, clean and less crowd… 😀

    Your photos are beautifully taken and colorful..I like them all… 🙂

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    • I’m impressed for your travels to many cities in Indonesia. 🙂 However I’ve never been to any market in Medan as I only stayed for a few days during my last trip in the city. I myself always go to supermarkets or hypermarkets in Jakarta. But when I went to Semarang I was really interested in visiting a traditional market as it brought back so many nice memories from my childhood.

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      • katrina says:

        Oh I went there with my mama’s friend during my stay in Medan…

        though traditional market or as we often call them wet market are normally dirty, noisy and crowded, I do find the experience fascinating and adventurous..love to see the many happy faces of the market people especially the ladies.. 🙂

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