What I Bought In Bali

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This trip to Bali was not about shopping.  It was a time and place to relax, recharge and rejuvenate but you know I can’t miss a chance to explore local markets and find unique global goods to bring home so I did pick a few items (wink, wink) while I was there.

We stayed in Ubud for our entire 10 day visit to Bali which allowed me days to scope out shops and markets, compare pricing and then do all my shopping at the end of our journey.  I’m going to share with you where I found the best deals and my top tips for shopping in Ubud.

Ubud is a haven for wellness, yoga and healthy living and a lot of the little shops on the main streets cater to this, selling bohemian fashion and accessories.  While I appreciated their offerings they reminded me a lot of what can be found in Los Angeles, where I live. I love to search out items unique to a destination when I travel and this wasn’t it.  I like to find items that are locally made, handcrafted and speak to the traditions and culture of the place I am visiting and the best place to find that is in the local markets, so off I went!

Ubud Traditional Art Market

Smack in the center of town, this market is full of a mix of local goods and touristy souvenirs.  There are stalls selling art, though a lot of it is the same so I am pretty sure it’s just reproductions. Not my thing.

You’ll also find stalls selling everything from masks and clothing to incense and handbags.  There is junk mixed in with some beautiful handmade items. You have to keep your eye out for magic and bargain hard.  If a seller isn’t willing to meet your price there are 20 more stalls selling the same items and you can get it elsewhere.  The amount of stalls selling the same items definitely puts the bargaining power in your hands.

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Straw bag mecca! I mean look at all those cool shapes!

 

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Colorful sarongs at the Ubud Market.

 

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I wanted them all! So hard to pick with so many shapes and designs!

At this market we picked up 3 of the straw handbags that I lusted after the entire trip, bags of incense and postcards (great gifts), some hand painted wooden bangles, a couple of Bintang beer t-shirts (husband’s purchase) and a few wooden masks.

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Incense, postcards, hand incense holder and oils I bought at a different shop.
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Hand painted bangles.
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My straw bag picks. 2 for me, one for my niece.
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Top: 2 Barong masks (He is the king of spirits in Balinese mythology, protector against evil spirits) Bottom: His and hers traditional painted mini masks to add to my collection from around the world.

Sukawati Market

We went to this market on recommendation from some locals and I really liked it.  It’s about 15 minutes drive from the center of Ubud and it just has a more laid back, local vibe.  One side of the market is more touristy with clothing, jewelry and wood carvings while the other side is definitely for locals with home goods, food items and daily offerings being sold.

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Wind chimes, puppets and small gifts.

 

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Wood carvings, masks and home goods of all kinds.
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Daily offerings in the making.
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Blessed block covered in offerings to the spirits.

We didn’t spend long here but I was able to pick up some sarongs and tops.  Keep in mind there are beach style, cotton sarongs which are cheaper and the more elaborately patterned, traditional sarongs that will cost you a little more.  I bought 5 of the traditional sarongs to give as a gifts and some for myself as well as matching cotton bolero style tops.

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Beach sarongs.
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Traditional sarongs in batik prints.
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A few of the sarongs and tops I purchased at Sukawati Market.

In addition to these two markets I wanted to tell you about a few other spots where I was able to get some great items while shopping in Ubud.

Andong Street

This is the street that travels from Ubud center to the Tegalalang Rice Terraces. It goes on for at least a couple miles with both sides of the street are lined in shops selling all types of handmade goods.  You won’t find a lot of clothing, but home goods, furniture, interior decoration, lighting, shell items abound. The shops sell wholesale and retail and it’s a great place if you are looking to purchase larger items than need to be shipped home.

I was blown away by how many shops lined the street and the variety of unique designs to be found.  We came to this street looking for a bead shop, which we didn’t find but I did find a clothing store that had a small section of beaded pieces from different tribes in Indonesia.  I was in heaven as these were pieces I hadn’t seen anywhere else in Ubud.

I ended up getting a beaded collar necklace made on Kalimantan Island in Borneo as well as a beaded collar and belt from the Toraja Tribe on the island of Sulawesi.  These pieces are so special to me because of the time put into them and the tradition they represent.  They are my favorite finds of the entire trip.

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Stunning beaded necklaces and belt from Borneo and Sulawesi.  Similar pieces can be found at “Jolly Art Shop”, Andong Street, Ubud 80571m Gianyar – Bali
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In my negotiating for the necklaces I had him throw in the tote bag which I love. The small bag I picked up at the Sukawati Market.

Hanoman Street

This street runs from the Monkey Forest to the main drag in the center of Ubud and it is lined with tiny shops.  It was here that I bought my amazing shell collar necklaces, handmade kites, essential oils and beads for my sister.

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The options are endless for these shell pieces. Though not traditionally Balinese they are handmade here.  They make an insane piece of statement jewelry or beautiful decoration.
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These are the three shell necklaces I ended up purchasing.
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Lots of cotton clothing to choose from. I bought a bunch of wide leg jumpsuits, perfect for traveling.
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Handmade kites for my nephews. I loved seeing the kites flying over Ubud everyday.
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Handmade beads from the island of Java.  I bought these and other beads at “Palito Beads Shop”, JI. Hanoman, Padang Tegal Ubud, Gianyar – Bali.
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They also had an amazing selection of beaded belts!

Be sure to pick up some of the essential oils of Bali as well. Cempaka is a flower native to Bali and the essential oil made from this flower is the most divine perfume.  Wearing it takes me right back to Ubud.

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Cempaka Flower (photo credit: bibitbunga.com)
 Lastly, Bali is known for it’s coffee and teas so we of course wanted to bring some home.  As we do in many countries, heading to local grocery store is the cheapest way to stock up on items like this before coming home. There is a small grocery store on Hanoman street right next to the Dirty Duck restaurant and we bought a variety of coffee and teas for gifts and ourselves here.

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Sheena’s Sidenotes:

~ Bargain hard.  I was told merchants start their prices at 5 times the price they actually want.  We negotiated most items down to less than half of the asking price.

~ Compare prices. Remember, a lot of the vendors are selling similar items so if you don’t get the price you want, start walking to the next stall and more than likely they’ll close the sale with you.

~ Bundling items is a great way to negotiate a better price. I did this pretty much everywhere I shopped.

~ Small items like incense, coffee and essential oils make great gifts for those back home and won’t take up a ton of room in your luggage.

~ Use cash for shopping as it didn’t seem like most places accepted credit cards.

Have you been to Bali?  Tell me what you bought when you were there in the comments below!

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What I Bought At The Melrose Trading Post

In an effort to get out of the house and get some sunshine, my husband and I decided (ok, I decided and nicely asked that he accompany me!) to visit the flea market yesterday.  The Melrose Trading Post (MTP) has been around for a while here in Los Angeles and I have never visited so it was time to check it out.

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What I Wore: Skirt/Top/Bracelet/Earrings/Thrifted, Shoes/Bag/Target, Hat/Santee Alley

 

MTP is located on the grounds of Fairfax High School on the corner of Melrose and Fairfax and is open for business every Sunday, 9am-5pm, rain or shine. Well, the sun was definitely shining on us as we perused the various stalls of global goods, vintage finds, antiques, furniture and handmade goodies.

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My thrifting adventures are a solo activity for me where I get in the zone of treasure hunting but shopping the flea market offers the opposite experience.  Yes, I am still treasure hunting (always) but it’s such a social experience and I get just as much pleasure from talking with vendors, meeting different people, learning their stories and the history of the items they are selling as I do from actually buying. It’s a more connected shopping experience and the MTP did not disappoint with an interesting crowd.

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Bright patterned pieces from Coast to Coast Vintage. I’ll be sharing all the details on this quirky and colorful mobile vintage shop in an upcoming “Shop Stop”.

 

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Mini masks by Kenyan artist, Ngene Mwaura. Stay tuned for an upcoming interview on his creative process and his art.

 

Compared to other flea markets in Los Angeles, the MTP feels very curated. Each vendor has selected their items with a theme or style in mind, offering a quality selection. There are antiques, plants, lots of clothing, textiles, beads and handmade jewelry. I am of course always drawn to the global elements found at any market and there are plenty here.

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Global hodge podge of Indian pieces, Buddhas and Indonesian masks.

 

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African beads, baskets and textiles. I especially liked the hand painted barber signs!

 

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Clothing, bags and pillows from Central America. Yes, please!

 

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Beautiful textiles!
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Leather and textile bags

The market is small and definitely manageable compared to some of the larger markets in L.A.  I personally like a bit bigger market to explore but this was a good way to spend a couple of hours.  There is parking onsite but it is limited. We arrived at noon and were able to get a spot. There is also street parking available.  The entrance fee is $3 and supports the school. There is live music and a small food area you can enjoy as well.

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Stunning beadwork from West Africa.

 

I actually did not end up buying much at the market. This trip was really about checking it out.  I did fall in love with these small, very unique bags but they wanted $30 each and that was too pricey for me.

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The only item I ended up buying was this amazing straw hat from Madagascar. The bold colors and super wide brim sold me. I purchased the yellow one and I am so happy with it! It will get a ton of use in the coming Summer months.

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Sheena’s Side Notes

~ In my personal opinion, the clothing items at this market were a bit overpriced.  It could be the thrifter in me or the area of Los Angeles we were in, but a lot of the clothes, while unique, could be found at thrift stores or estate sales for a lot cheaper. If you aren’t into the hunt for things this is a great place to find unique pieces if you’re willing to pay for them.

~ There was an eclectic selection of antiques, from old movies reels, to candelabras and vintage bar carts. Perfect to find that unique item for your décor.

~ If you are looking for a rug (think Moroccan, Turkish) there were a few vendors selling these. I have amassed my own rug collection from my travels and have run out of floor space. If not I would have purchased one of these. They were all drool worthy!

~ Plan to have lunch in the area. If you are visiting Los Angeles, there are a lot of iconic restaurants in the area, within walking distance that you can try out.  There are also lots of other shops in the area, down Melrose and down Fairfax if you need to get more of a shopping fix while you are in the area.