Recently we visited Pasar Tanah Abang and had an absolute blast exploring such a vast market. The vendors and shoppers greeted us with equal measures of warmth and amusement. I’m sure they thought it was hilarious that two *bule women were having a ball in South East Asia’s largest fabric market; a market that even locals say is pretty manic.
After a delightful visit, Liz and I hopped back in the car and my Driver, Pak Kurniawan, sensing our energy for adventure, suggested Pasar Bunga Rawa Belong as our next ajb excursion. He said the name, Rawa Belong, as if we would understand its significance but his suggestion was met with blank stares. Pak politely explained that Pasar Rawa Belong is (purportedly) the largest wholesale flower market is South East Asia.
So it is with gratitude to Pak Kurniawan that we present you with today’s ajb post. Put on your non-slip shoes, we’re off to Pasar Bunga Rawa Belong (- I hope you don’t suffer hayfever!)
What’s in a Name?
Pasar Bunga Rawa Belong is located in the area of Rawa Belong in West Jakarta. The word Bunga means ‘flower’ in Bahasa Indonesia and Pasar translates as ‘market’.
Mechanics of the Market
Mostly situated within two two-storey buildings, Pasar Rawa Belong also spills out onto the open area in front of the buildings and extends across the road. There are in excess of 400 stallholders and the market never closes!
Irrespective of what time you visit, you are likely to see lots of action. During the hours from 10pm to 6am, flowers grown throughout the archipelago arrive in trucks. Likewise, flowers that have been freighted from other countries including Thailand, Vietnam and as far afield as The Netherlands arrive at this wholesale market.
Outside these hours, motorbikes and small trucks can be seen loading flowers for delivery to Jakarta’s Toko Bunga (flower shops).
Language is No Barrier
Everyone we met at Pasar Bunga Rawa Belong was friendly and keen to do business with us. We delighted in chatting with the vendors and finding out where the flowers originated.
Although many vendors speak only limited English, we met Asep whose command of everyday English was excellent. We feel confident that he could source and deliver all of our/your flower needs.
Asep contact details
HP: 0878 8298 1064
Flowers on Offer
At Pasar Rawa Belong, you can find everything from bags full of flower petals to freshly cut flowers; from gardening accessories to bunga papan (large boards decorated with flowers, containing a message specific to the occasion, used for weddings, funerals, opening of businesses etc). The flower market offers the best prices because the vendors buy their stock directly from the farmers. Here are some flowers that we saw:
Just some of the flowers available include: Orchids, Roses, Sunflowers, Carnations, Chrysanthemums, Dahlias, Gerberas, Lotus flowers and pods, Lilies, Heath Asters, Birds of Paradise, Hyacinths, Hydrangeas, Daffodils, Baby’s Breath and many other flowers and foliage.
Imported flowers include Orchids from Thailand, Lilies from Vietnam and Gypsophila (Baby’s breath) from Netherlands.
Ceremonial decorations known as Kembar Mayang can also be purchased at Pasar Rawa Belong. These hand-made decorations, often associated with weddings are made from young coconut leaves which are cut, folded and then pinned into various arrangements. The decorative part is often attached to a banana trunk and can be seen in local neighbourhoods, signifying the location of a wedding ceremony.
The various shapes of Kembar Mayang have different symbolic meanings. Some examples include:
Mountain shaped: A mountain is high and big, symbolising a man should have a lot of knowledge, experience and patience.
Keris (ceremonial knife) shaped: The couple should be careful in life.
Umbrellas-shaped: The couple must protect their family.
Grasshopper-shaped: The couple should be energetic, quick in thinking and making decisions in order to keep the family safe.
Bird-shaped: The couple should have a high life-motivation.
Our Favourite Flowers?
Our wonderful friend and talented Photographer, Nita loves Sedap Malam. During her time living in the USA and Australia, she was unable to find these flowers and missed them greatly. She now delights in having these elegant long flowers in her home on a regular basis.
Nita’s second favourite flower is the Lily- both locally grown as well as imported varieties.
Liz’ flora of choice includes stunning tropical foliage in various shapes and sizes, which she featured in an earlier post called, Bringing the Outside In. Liz also enjoys the unusual and novel aesthetic of the Cotton Bush and has a genuine love of the various orchids of Indonesia.
Pak Kurniawan’s favourite flower? He really likes roses and orchids (anggrek)
And Mine? The Lotus flower (teratai) and their pods. These flowers are harvested from local waterways – not commercially cultivated. Many would consider them not particularly special; yet it is their origin that I find most interesting; that something so beautiful can come from a place so apparently ordinary.
More recently I have discovered the Kecombrang flower (Torch Ginger flower). Not only is this flower beautiful in appearance, it can also be used in cooking like in our Rujak salad recipe.
Advice when visiting the Market
Bargain hard. Half the suggested price and stick with it.
Wear closed-toe shoes as it can get quite wet due to all the watering.
Although a lot of the market is under cover, there is also a lot outdoors so bring a sun hat.
Bring cash. No cards accepted in most places.
If you are planning on buying a lot of flowers, bring something in which to transport them home e.g.: esky.
Did you know?
Indonesia has three National Flowers. They include:
Melati (Jasminum Sambac), The Moon Orchid (Phalaenopsis Amabilis) and the world’s largest flower, The Rafflesia (Rafflesia Arnoldi Indonesia).
Interested in finding our more about Tropical Flowers of Indonesia? Check out our post by clicking Here!
Interested in discovering More Traditional Markets in Jakarta? Here are some posts just for you:
Pasar Rawa Belong Flower Market
Jl. Sulaiman No.1 , Kebon Jeruk
West Jakarta, Indonesia
Open Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week
- Bule – white foreigner
- Pasar – market
- Bunga – flower
Words: Jo Photography: Nita Strudwick and a journey bespoke