They were right, it was bargain central, as the world over enjoys mid-year sales.
In return, I dragged them to the markets. Oh, I love a good market. Of course, this being south-east Asia, the markets don’t mean overpriced organic tomatoes and artfully arranged eco-carrots, but Jakarta has a couple of streets that are lined with long, thatch-roof stalls, one street for antiques, another for animals.
The antique shops told a story of Jakarta’s history: old Dutch maps, German dictionaries, biographies of the former president Soeharto and stacks of dauntingly instructive, simply named hardcover tomes, including “The Persian Gulf” and “Childcraft”.
I found a stuffed kumbung (yes I’ve googled it and can’t find it anywhere, either, but it’s a type of animal, I’ll keep searching), a preserved turtle and a cupei (ditto kumbung, I think I must have written this down wrong, serious language barriers going on here), a weasel-like animal with wild glass green eyes.
This market’s also a great stop for puppets, including this fetching duo of Barak Obama and the Indonesian mega-moutful of a president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyon, more sensibly known as SBY (which started to get me all mixed up – SJP. No, that’s Sarah Jessica Parker. JPY. John Paul Young. Wrong again).
My shopping companion on this trip trotted away with a set of East Javanese puppets and some old weights, and me? The ultimate kitsch gave my baggage that extra oomph, a pair of brass betel nut cutters from Sumatra. Going cheap. Obviously a must-have when visiting Indonesia.