Learning how to shop

I’ve spent the last two weeks trying to write a blog post. I keep writing and then starting over. It won’t come out right. I’ll be honest. I’m homesick. I’m loving our life here, don’t get me wrong, but there’s just that nagging sadness, that feeling like I’m waiting for the dream to be over and to get back to real life. Settling in to a new life takes time and I’m willing to put in the effort and be patient, trying to enjoy, or at least appreciate, each stage. For now, I’m riding out the homesickness that I’ve joined both kids in and am leaning on the comfort of God’s promises.

So here I am, starting over with a completely new topic. Shopping!

Since moving, we came with very little and have had to purchase quite a few new things. This has meant many, many shopping outings. Our school is attached to what I once thought was a huge mall because it is five stories tall. I’ve since come to realize that it’s not much bigger than the Pen Centre (for those of you at home) and with many stores I don’t recognize. But not to fear, there are malls everywhere, many much bigger than this one. I think I’ve visited five already.


One store we’ve visited a lot is called Ace. I believe it’s an American store, sort of like Canadian Tire. It has toys, sports equipment, outdoor items, hardware, housewares, almost everything. Another store we’ve visited for many of our needs is Hypermart. It also has many housewares items, like storage containers for food, appliances, even T.V.’s. But it’s mostly a grocery store.

The mall has a lot of restaurants throughout as well as a really nice outdoor area that hosts concerts on the weekends and about three levels of restaurants. Not many of the fast food style, so when one day I took the kids and thought we’d grab something quick at the mall, I was frustratingly disappointed as I tried to find a quick, cheap meal for the three of us. We ended up sitting down at a place called Imperial Kitchen and really enjoyed some spring rolls, dumplings, and wonton soup for about $14 total. We all enjoyed it! I think fast food is to be found on the streets.

I have now spent hours and hours wandering around this mall, getting familiar with unfamiliar stores (especially the bakeries), looking for things like a skirt and Batik for N, a simple keychain for myself, a clock, tablecloth, toaster, toothbrush holders, etc. You know, all the things we either sold, gave away or stored in Canada.

One thing I’ve noticed about shopping here in Jakarta is that there is always someone around to help. While, in some cases, this can be really nice, I’m someone who wants to be left alone to look at things….but don’t be too far away when I have a question. At times, I will be looking at an item and someone will come over and tell me all about it. That’s great, I wasn’t really that interested in this item and now I feel bad that I don’t want to buy it.

On another occasion, I went into Ace to find a container for leftovers. I did not grab a basket or a buggy. I ended up getting an organizer for cutlery, many containers, glasses, I don’t even remember all the things I purchased. But thankfully there was someone lurking in the shadows, waiting for me to need his help. Every time I put something into my arms, he offered to bring it up to cash for me. When I was finally finished, there was a nice pile of my things waiting for me by the cashiers.

Shopping for N’s Batik clothes, there were about three people waiting to help me. When we decided which one we would buy, one lady took the dress, another wrote the item and price on a piece of receipt paper and the third took the items we weren’t going to take. Then I had to take my paper to the cashier where the dress was waiting. But I couldn’t go to the cash register that was close by, it had to be the one closest to the kids’ section. I’m not sure if I like all this attention during my shopping trips, or not. It does seem like a lot of people are employed by these stores. I’d like to know, though, if labour is so cheap, why aren’t the clothes?

Another form of shopping etiquette I haven’t become used to yet, is that you need to have your produce weighed and priced. When you buy produce, there is a scale and employee in the produce section that will weigh and price each item for you. I have ended up at the cash register many times without my produce priced and wait patiently while the cashier gets this done for me.

A totally different shopping experience has been to go to the smaller streets and buy local. I’m always amazed at what there actually is on one of these streets. They are so tiny and look so run-down, but go into a non-descript little door and beyond is a treasure trove of beautiful hand-made products from pottery to furniture, to jewelry and baskets. There are a lot of beautiful things around. Even little coffee shops seem to be everywhere!

A wonderful friend took me and another newcomer on a small tour of some of her favourite places, that happens to be right out the back gate of our complex.

Below are some of the beautiful treasures I discovered.

One of my favourite places to go (and I’ve been four times now!) is called Galeri Pot. I bought some beautiful pieces all for about $200 Canadian. They are now cheering up our apartment. The store delivered them right to our door for no extra charge, since we live so close. I even managed to get them to throw in a plant (that needs a little TLC, I’ll admit.) My next adventure is to find more plants for the other pot and for our balcony.

My new fruit/salad bowl from Lombok

I’m determined to keep things simple and not over fill our new home. I also want to buy beautiful, local products as much as possible since there are so many unique pieces here. We plan to have some pieces of furniture made and have already placed an order for a bench with shoe storage for our entryway. Yet, there is still a place for Ikea and I’m glad for the familiarity of this store and grateful it’s around.

We continue to discover new places to shop, have coffee, and go out to eat. This city has new things waiting for us around every corner and it’s exciting to discover.

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