Home + "There's Not Much of a Health Code Here, Is There?"

My Wednesday, February 12 lasted 38 hours. However 26 of those hours were spent either on a plane or in an airport. I finally stepped out of customs, breathed fresh air and was officially back in Seattle, well, for a week at least.  Want to know how to spend 62 hours in planes over three weeks? Here's how I did it:

Seattle to Dubai: 14.5 hours Dubai to Delhi: 3.5 hours Delhi to Madurai: 4 hours Madurai to Delhi: 4 hours Delhi to Dubai: 4 hours Dubai to Jakarta: 8 hours Jakarta to Semarang: 1 hour Semarang to Jakarta: 1 hour Jakarta to Dubai: 8 hours Dubai to Seattle: 14.5 hours

Grant Total:   62.5 hours in a plane over 3 weeks

While I am very happy to be home and preparing for my next adventure, I really had a great time in both India and Indonesia and was sad to be leaving. I'm going to digest things for a day or two before I write more about my experiences, but before I wrap up, I wanted to share one more story about Indonesia and why I uttered the words 

"There's not much of a health code here, is there?"

10 Feb 2014 

This post contains some images that you may not want to see while consuming any meat products... or eating in general. They aren't super graphic, but they show the reality of an Indonesian market. I hope this will just make you super grateful that the meat you're eating was most likely not bought this way.

Elana warned me about dressing conservatively and I wore long capri pants and a long sleeve button down. Since Indonesia is a more "conservative" country, I asked Elana every morning what would be approriate to wear for the day's activities. Usually it involved being more covered up that I normally would be. It was a little hot being so covered, but I'd rather that than be stared at and ogled at, although that seemed to happen anyway. 

Today, we were headed to the daily outdoor market in downtown Salatiga, which has hundreds of vendors selling of meat, fruits, veggies, and other sundries. It started around 5am, but we arrived around 9:15, and it was still in full swing. The merchants were mainly older women chatting with each other and only sometimes paid attention to the passing customers. However, when we passed they called out asking us to try their fruits. We ended up buying a variety of fruit that neither Elana nor I had seen before, and I couldn't even begin to spell it--or say it. It was delicious though! I tried snake fruit as well, but was not at all a fan. We continued on our way, and I snapped pictures as discreetly as possible while Elana made small talk with a few of the vendors (the only thing I understood was when she said "tourist" and "America"), often asking them if I could take their picture. At one point we did have a close follower, but Elana just said "we have a follower" I said "yep" and we kept our purses in the front and kept walking, lingering at one stall longer than the others until he lost interest and proceeded on his way.



Let me tell you... there was no health code here. Stall tables were teeming with cut chicken, beef, and fish. No refrigeration, no sanitation and definitely no concern for the fact that the meat is sitting out in the hot sun--and had been since early that morning. Elana asked if I wanted to see the meat market upstairs, and I did, although I hesitated and told myself to ignore the idea that some (if not all) the meat I ate the week I'd been here, which was mainly chicken, was bought at one of these stalls, or in this mysterious upstairs. Up we went.

The room was large, well lit, and open, and from the first scent, actually didn't smell too bad. We turned the corner and at first, I didn't think we were in the right spot. Instead of counters and counters of meat, there were rows and rows of veggie stands, with a meat stand scattered throughout. Bright and fresh, the veggies made me long for carrots, and tomatoes, and broccoli -- not cooked, but raw and safe to eat without the worry of any sort of disease hitting my system after larva have hatched in my body 10 to 14 days after consumption. I'd been missing my vegetables the last two and a half weeks!

I looked across the rows then I saw it. Situated in what looked like a cage, I saw the tell tale sign of "the meat market." Racks of ribs lined up, red smeared tile floors, and grayed tile counters covered in fats, skins, intestines, and anything else that once composed a living being. We walked in and as I looked at the floor, and my flip flop clad feet, I asked Elana to remind me to wash these shoes before I stick them in my suitcase tomorrow. She laughed and said "yeah, I probably should have told you to wear tennis shoes." Thankfully the floor wasn't slick or anything, just kind of smeared with dried blood. Tasty, huh?

Fascinated and yet revolted, I walked past not really sure what to think. This is so very different from anything you'd find in the western world. This is not okay! How do people not have salmonella or e.coli all the time? We stopped by a lady who had various parts of a cow piled on her table and hanging from the racks above her. We stopped mainly because we couldn't believe the size of the cow's liver. She confirmed it was the liver and laughed when I motioned how big it was. I asked if I could take her picture and she consented. She smiled big as I stepped back to get the whole table with her surrounded by her meat.

The majority of the chicken tables we passed donned the whole (dead) bird laying on its back with its neck flung over the edge hanging down. You could see exactly where they slit the throat and bled the birds. Every part of the chicken was there and available to purchase.

We left the meat market sans any meat (not surprisingly), and headed back downstairs to the street. While it wasn't sweltering in the meat market, the air circulation was near nonexistent. The weather was definitely getting warmer and more humid, so we made our way back to the motorbike, but not before buying more mongese fruit (that stuff was so good and I will definitely miss not having that at my disposal!).

And so, on my last day, I experienced a traditional Indonesian street market and meat market -- complete with cow livers, chicken heads and stalker men. Sounds like a great morning to me!