Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ngasem Bird Market

Wandering about Ngasem market seems like a must after visiting Yogyakarta Sultan Palace. In addition to its location that is only 400 meters west of the Palace, this market will give important information on what was considered prestige in the past. After horses functioning as means of transportation and kris as a weapon, birds comes the third position as social status measurement. Ngasem Market offers various kinds of birds with their beautiful appearance and voice and the activities of the bird lovers there.

Evidence in the form of a photograph shows that Ngasem market with birds as its main commodity has been operating since 1809. Its location that is not far from the Kingdom was meant for the noblemen to access it easily. In around 1960s, this market was increasingly identical to birds when birds sellers from Beringharjo were moved to this place. It is not surprising that many tourists call this market a bird market since the area for selling birds occupies one third of the market width.The area for birds trading is on the left side of the entrance. The turtledove that many noblemen bought in the past is still one of the main commodities of this market. Other best sellers are bulbuls, orioles, starlings and minas, parakeet and small local birds such as emprit and prenjak. An interesting bird that people rarely buy is owl of which child is sold at 35,000 Rupiah. One of the bird shops had even recently sold an eagle at 350,000 Rupiah. Besides selling birds, the shops also provide care equipments such as cage and feeds.

Ngasem Market has different nuance from other bird market. Here, visitors do not only enjoy the birds beauty but also animal show performed by birds lovers, for example demonstration of doves that return to its cage from distant flight and birds chirp contest. Sometimes, the visitors decided to spend some amount of money to buy birds by listening to the chirp in the contest first. The sellers use the event to train the birds to chirp or just to discuss about the technique of taking care of birds.If you go around the market, you will see that many other animals than birds are sold here. Turning right from the birds block, you will come to a kiosk that sells snakes. The seller tells that the snakes were caught directly from its habitat. The snakes range from water snake to cobra and python. To look the animals in detail, please ask the sellers to take them out for you to inspect. In addition to snakes, the kiosk also sells various reptiles such as iguana and turtle. A small iguana is sold at 75,000 Rupiah and when it sells hundreds thousand when it is already big.

Walking westwards of the market, you will see many kiosks selling ornamental fish. The types and prices vary. Small fish that live in a colony is sold 1,000 each. Other ornamental fish are arwana and lou han sold at hundreds thousand. The kiosks also sell equipments for taking care of fish such as aquarium of various shapes, coral reefs, ornamental plants to be put in the aquarium and fish feeds. Some kiosks provide services for setting up sea fish cultivation.Other animals than fish, bird, and snakes that are sold are dog, cat, civet, various kinds of chickens and rabbits with different fur colors. One kiosk sells hamster complete with its cage designed specifically in order to provide playground for it so that buyers will be able to see the behavior of the hamster that is similar to that of mice. In the middle of the market, many people sell crickets. Crickets are used as feeds for certain birds or by students to listen to its sound.If you feel tired or hungry, just like other traditional markets do, Ngasem also provides you with traditional snacks. One of the special, traditional snacks is jenang gempol (round in shape, made from rice flour with rich flavor combined with coconut milk sauce and sweet palm sugar syrup) that is usually sold in front of the market. Other traditional snacks are getuk, lupis, thiwul, and gatot that all of which are made of cassava. Close to the bird kiosks, there are small dining places selling soto and nasi rames. For sure, the exploration to Ngasem Market will be enjoyable.

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