Market Feature #2 : Ayo ke Pasar Santa

Telephone country code for Indonesia
Ayo ke Pasar Santa translates as, ‘Let’s go to Santa Market’… and we did!

Until quite recently, Pasar Santa (located in the hip neighbourhood of Kebayoran Baru in South Jakarta), was not considered a funky place to hang out. The traditional market had become tired and struggled to attract stallholders.  And yet, when screening locals for recommendations on pasars to frequent for our monthly Pasar feature, the overwhelming consensus was a visit to Pasar Santa is a must. With this in mind, Liz and I set out to see what all the fuss was about.

Pulling up outside Pasar Santa we were met with a pretty nondescript building. I clearly recall thinking, ‘This won’t take too long’, but then remembered the saying, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. That trusty old adage has stood the test of time because it is true.. you should never be too swift in your judgement. We discovered this as beyond the somewhat tired exterior lies so many wonderful stories which we would have missed had we been too hasty.

Pasar Santa consists of three levels. Access through the main entrance takes you straight to stalls selling an array of merchandise typical of the Asian market scene. An eclectic mix of plasticware is for sale, along with children’s toys and an abundance of clothing and footwear. There are also merchants selling jewellery, watches and wall clocks. The central staircase takes you to the lower level and it is here that you will find the wet market.

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Bowls of bumbu (spice seasoning) are prepared each day using fresh ingredients

Enthusiastic vendors will tempt you with their goods including a multitude of herbs and spices. Eggs are sold loose and are bought by the bag-full. Tantalisingly fresh fruit and vegetables are beautifully arranged and can be purchased at a good price. Be prepared to bargain using whatever Bahasa Indonesia you have, as locals appreciate your effort in engaging in their language. To quench your thirst, vendors sell fresh coconut water poured into a plastic bag. A quick insert of a straw and this bagful of bliss takes the edge off the heat.

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Legumes, pulses and eggs are for purchase by the bag-full
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These massive legumes are called, ‘petai besar’

Just around the corner you will find the freshly dispatched meat and poultry. Although we didn’t dwell too long, it too seemed clean and hygienic.

Essentially, everything you need to prepare an extensive Indonesian meal is available at the wet market of Pasar Santa. So, after making a few purchases we swiftly downed our coconut water and made our way to the top level. So far so good…

Arriving on the third floor, Liz and I shared a thought bubble.. ‘Aahh! This is what all the fuss is about!’ Suddenly good became sensational! There in front of us was a little village of cute garage-like structures, colourfully decorated, each with its own unique sign.  As we meandered past the pop-up style kiosks, we enjoyed friendly conversation with the many young, hip and entreprenerial stall owners. Liz and I were blown away by the smorgasbord of items on offer including vinyl LPs, vintage clothing, cakes, noodles, cool Tshirts, unique books, fabulous coffee, and even a variety of service providers (including courier service, shoe repairs etc). The list is long!

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Take a stroll through the kiosks on the upper floor of Pasar Santa

When the time came for our coffee pit-stop, Liz and I enjoyed a wonderful cup from Gayo Bies. Sitting there amongst the kiosks, soaking up the hip atmosphere, we concluded that Pasar Santa is ultimately the gem that it is because of its people. So with that in mind, herewith is a small but significant handful of inspiring people who make Pasar Santa an experience not to be missed.

Faces of Pasar Santa

Oka Diputra - owner of Miechino, Pasar Santa
Oka Diputra – owner of Miechino, Pasar Santa (Photo supplied by Oka Diputra)

*Kenalkan Oka Diputra

Where are you originally from? Jakarta

Your business name & description of your business:
My business is Miechino. I sell ‘Mie Karet’ which means rubber noodles because their texture is chewy like rubber, not like most noodles that can be found in the south of Jakarta. You normally find this kind of texture in the west or north of Jakarta. It’s my own recipe which I’ve created through trial and error over a 2 year period. At Miechino we serve our noodles with either chicken and mushroom (which has the taste of the Oriental) or Indonesian-style with meatballs (bakso).

Where do you source inspiration for your business?
I love noodles that’s why I created my own recipe which satisfies my own cravings for noodles. In addition to that, I’d like to share what I love with the people in South Jakarta who don’t regularly get to taste West and North Jakarta cuisine.

Who is your ‘average’ customer?
Miechino’s customers are Indonesians who love noodles, as noodles are our ‘comfort food’.

Is Miechino your full-time work?
Miechino is my full-time work at the moment.

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Customers flock to Miechino, especially on weekends, seeking out a bowl of comforting ‘mie karet’-style noodles. (Photo supplied by Oka Diputra)

What is the best time to visit Pasar Santa?
The best time to visit Pasar Santa is on the weekends when it is guaranteed to be very busy. You can find plenty of options for dining and browsing for accessories, clothing, music or any other miscellaneous stuff. But if you want to experience a more relaxed ambience, then come during weekdays. Some of the shops are open from Tuesday, including Miechino.

In 3 words, how would you describe ‘Your Jakarta’?
My Jakarta is bustling, busy and surprising.

Your top 3 places to take visitors in Jakarta:
Definitely the Kota Tua, Malls (to get the experience of living in Jakarta) and Pasar Santa to see another side of people in Jakarta.

 

*Kenalkan: Ve Handojo (one half of A Bunch of Caffeine Dealers School of Coffee)

Ve from ABCD School of Coffee (photograph by Dicky Lesmana)
Ve Handojo from ABCD School of Coffee (photograph by Dicky Lesmana)

Where are you originally from? Jakarta

Your business name & description of your business:
We are called ABCD School of Coffee. I feel funny calling it a business since we are actually a ‘school’. Our classes are designed as a ‘from zero to cappuccino’ experience. Those who know absolutely nothing about coffee are welcome to join; to get knowledge on coffee from a very basic understanding to learning how to properly brew coffee.

Where do you source your inspiration?
What drives us is the fact that Indonesia is among the biggest coffee producing countries in the world, and coffee shops are mushrooming everywhere, but the public appreciation of specialty coffee is quite low. Only a few of those who flock to hip and stylish coffee shops actually know what they are drinking. We would like to boost the coffee lifestyle, and not just the cafe lifestyle.

Who is your ‘average’ customer?
Those who come to classes vary from college students to military officers; from retired businessmen to 10 year olds; from movie stars to people from embassies but most importantly, youngsters from SOS Children’s villages whom we invite to get free, comprehensive classes.

Is ABCD School of Coffee your fulltime work? (if not, what do you do as your regular job?)
Running ABCD School of Coffee takes 80% of my working hours. I spend the rest writing scripts for TV series and feature films.

Hendri from ABCD School of Coffee (photograph by Rendy Mahesa)
The other half of ABCD School of Coffee – Hendri Kurniawan (photograph by Rendy Mahesa)

What is the best time to visit Pasar Santa?
Sundays

In 3 words, how would you describe ‘Your Jakarta’?
Chaotic, unpredictable and irresistable

Your top 3 places to take visitors in Jakarta:
The Old Town (Kota Tua), Jl. Surabaya (Menteng) and Pasar Santa

 

*Kenalkan: Maesy Angelina, Steven Ellis, and Teddy W. Kusuma – The trio behind POST.

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Steven, Maesy and Teddy – AKA: POST (photo supplied by POST)

Where are you originally from?
Although all of us now call Jakarta home, Maesy is the only one born and raised here. Steven is from Eureka, California, while Teddy grew up in Singaraja and Denpasar, Bali.

What is POST?
POST is a space for books, gatherings, and all things creative that pops up mainly on weekends in Pasar Santa.

Books:  the three of us love books and we love the experience of hunting for good books, so we create that experience through our monthly pop-up bookshop, which hosts single-copy English books, books from independent publishers in Indonesia, and curated second hand books.

Gatherings: we also host monthly gatherings on writing through our #menulisdipasar events, which have included classes on narrative non-fiction with Windy Ariestanty, writing for children with Reda Gaudiamo, writing short stories with Dea Anugrah and  Sabda Armandio, as well as a writing marathon challenge.

All things creative: POST opens its doors for independent creative communities, individuals, or local start-ups to use our space as a hub to engage with the public. We’ve collaborated with artists who did their first exhibition in our space, writers who held their book and blog launches, an online radio station that wanted to give live streaming a try, as well as non-profits for their fund-raising event. There’s always something new every weekend at POST!

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Where do you get your inspiration for POST?
The idea came up when the three of us met up by chance on a Sunday afternoon in Pasar Santa, back in July 2014 when the top floor was still deserted. Between cups of the famous ABCD Coffee, we talked about our frustration with the lack of non-mall public spaces in Jakarta and how refreshing it was to see creative things emerging in a traditional market like Pasar Santa. We soon started imagining what kind of other initiatives that would be interesting for the market and got hooked on the idea of a pop up space that offers something different every time it opens. A space that could be selling shirts one day and doing a poetry slam the next. The idea of a space that could function as a home to the creative initiatives of various individuals and communities intrigued us so much, we booked our kiosks the next week. You could say that it really was Pasar Santa itself that inspired POST to come into being!

Who is your ‘average’ customer?
Our average collaborators, people who host their events at POST, are creative youngsters in their early to late twenties. They are all passionate about what they do – be it drawing, writing, photography, business – and eager to share it with the public. There are all sorts of people that drop by our pop-up bookshop, but those whose eyes light up when browsing our collection and end up being our regular customers are people who really appreciate good books.

Is your business in Pasar Santa your full time work? If not, what do you do as your regular job?
POST is non-profit – all money gained goes back to the space first, with any profits to be used to support local charitable organisations, so we do need regular jobs! The three of us are working for social development projects in Indonesia. Steven is working on a program to improve tertiary education in Indonesia, Maesy focuses on research and innovation for women empowerment and poverty reduction, while Teddy is a financial management analyst.  Outside of work, Maesy and Teddy blog at thedustysneakers.com and just published their first book in late 2014, “The Dusty Sneakers: Kisah Kawan di Ujung Sana”, while Steven is half of the duo behind ‘Kamar S&M’ a podcast about relationships, culture, and gender in Indonesia and the U.S.

What is the best time to visit Pasar Santa?
If you have all the time in the world, we would suggest visiting Pasar Santa from 11am on Saturday, when it will still be half asleep, and slowly watch it wake up and come into full force by 5pm. We also love Sunday afternoons; they are always less busy than Saturdays so you will have more room to chat with the people of Pasar Santa.

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A popular destination, especially on weekends (photo supplied by POST)

In 3 words, how would you describe ‘Your Jakarta’?
Steven: grumpy glam, tender-hearted
Maesy: defies your expectations
Teddy: complicated old uncle

Your top 3 places to take visitors in Jakarta
We can’t help but recommend Pasar Santa. True, we might be biased, but where else could you see a market where vegetable and meat vendors co-exist with tailors, coffee roasters, vintage shops, and creative spaces?

Otherwise, here are our personal recommendations:

Teddy: I’d take them to Taman Ismail Marzuki, the oldest art complex in Jakarta. Other than the exhibitions or art performance, you can visit an old but well curated bookshop, a planetarium, and take a stroll to see interesting murals on the walls of the Jakarta Institute of Arts (IKJ). People watching is fun to do here, preferably while enjoying tasty Indonesian food in one of the many warungs in the complex.

Steven: I’ll go with Tebet. You can visit Pasar Tebet, wander around good ole’ regular neighborhoods, try lots of different food (both more traditional and modern/international), check-out distros and the ABG (anak baru gede / tweens) scene, and relax in Taman Tebet.  No malls, no big buildings.

Maesy: Taman Suropati, Menteng. In this small park, you can take a deep breath, look at the people around you, and feel that for once Jakarta could really be a melting pot. This is where people do communal yoga sessions on Sunday morning, practice classical music in the afternoons, take their children for a picnic, play with soap bubbles even though they are well into their thirties, hang out with their friends, or just sit and read. It’s a good place to be just when you start losing your faith in Jakarta.

 

Pasar Santa
Block AL.01-BKS No. 75-77
Jl. Cipaku 1
Kebayoran Baru
South Jakarta

Miechino
Instagram: instagram.com/mie.chino

ABCD School of Coffee
Instagram: instagram.com/abcd_coffee
Web: http://abunchofcaffeinedealers.com

POST
Instagram: instagram.com/post_santa
Tumblr: postpasarsanta.tumblr.com
Email: postpasarsanta@gmail.com

*Kenalkan: let me introduce

Words: Jo & ‘Faces of Pasar Santa’ interviewees  Photography: a journey bespoke and Nita Strudwick (unless otherwise specified)

 

 

Comments

    • ajourneybespoke says

      Hello Hani, Thank you for your comment. We are enjoying exploring the many pasars of Jakarta, and particularly enjoyed Pasar Santa. Each month we will visit a different pasar and then post our experience here at ‘a journey bespoke’.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Favourite places to take the children in Jakarta to eat and play? Particularly creative spaces? I enjoy and appreciate organisers who put on an outdoor event in Jakarta, like outdoor yoga for kids at Taman Tanjung or Tanjung Park near Pasar Minggu, Jakarta Selatan. I also like to go to workshops and make art together with my son. We went to one held by Dia.Lo.Gue Artspace and Pasar Santa […]

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