بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْم
It will be strange if certain umrah agency did not bring their pilgrims to Balad Market. Because almost all pilgrims know about the place. As soon as Musa opened the bus door, the pilgrims immediately burst out. Perhaps they would not delay the souvenir hunting. Together with Wahyudi they crossed the highway separating the parking lot and the market area; as I walked later with Mr. Nugie and Granny Sri who was not in good condition.
As we arrived at the market, the pilgrims immediately dispersed. Mrs. Yuyun and her family went to Mang Doel restaurant tasting Indonesian baso (meat ball serves with soup). In addition to Baso Mang Doel, there is also a Garuda Restaurant that serves typical Indonesian cuisine such as fried rice and pecel lele (fried catfish serves with soy sauce). You can release the homeland longing in both restaurants or in the kebab stalls which easy to find.
Reduced by eight people, the rest of the entourage followed Wahyudi to a row of shops selling t-shirts with pictures of Ka’bah or ‘I Love Jeddah’, abaya, toys such as camel dolls, perfume, chocolates, dates, key chains, etc. From a distance of twenty meters we see the names of the shops were similar but not the same. Ali Murah (Cheap Ali), Sultan Murah (Cheap Sultan), or Gani Murah (Cheap Gani). Alhamdulillah they do not exchange the letter U on the word Murah with A (in Bahasa Indonesia MURAH means CHEAP; otherwise MARAH means ANGRY).
As the tradition there, when a travel groups appeared on the outskirts of Corniche Mall, one of shop keeper will run inside and out again to hoist certain travel flags their see. “Welcome to X Travel, please come in and have a look.” They shouted, waving flags into the air. As soon as one store begins to fly the flag, other stores come along as well. They even have an ace that allows pilgrims to choose their store, “We have toilet here, just go to the second floor.” Of course anyone who has to urinate will happily choose that store. After the pilgrim entered the store, the flag raiser returns to the yard to observe the situation. As soon as he saw another group, they repeated the activity but this time with a different flag, “Welcome to Travel Y, please come in and have a look.”
The condition inside the store is crowded with pilgrims looking around or bargain prices. Next to the pilgrims is a line of shelf hanging on the shirt, and next to a toy shelf there would be a group of pilgrims. Similarly in front of the window fragrance there are pilgrims and there are always pilgrims in front of the cooler storage of date palm. Perhaps the pilgrims are willing to hustle here because served by Indonesian employees which known as humble and patient; or Indian people who understand the character of Indonesian (Indonesian people known very royal when shopping). In addition there are also other things that make shopping in Balad Market fun, that the availability for transactions using either Rupiah, Real, and Dollar.
The second floor rather quiet but not in front of the toilet because there usually a queue of pilgrims. It’s better to choose items on the second floor but we have to be careful, especially when bringing small children due to a lot of fragile items such as paintings or jars.
Usually I just go in for a while and then out to the stone benches. Outside is better because in addition to getting cool air I also often meet old colleagues. But the unpleasantness is there will be cigarette smoke, beggars, and watch sellers who peddle merchandise with a little force.
Do not forget the existence of fried peanuts seller who peddle their wares on a green sandbar. The beans were put on a pile of hot white sand due to a stove under the cart. The price is bargaining, at least about two to five real (around USD 2). I am often given free by them even though I never ask to. Unlike most of the Indonesia people who like to talk, Arabs tend to more assertive. When they say halal means it is okay for us taking it by free; but if they include the price never ask for free.
In addition to the shops at Balad Market, we can also visit various shops inside Corniche Mall which located very near from the stone benches on the sidewalk. Being sold inside is somewhat different and more branded and inside we can meet Filipino migrant workers are relaxing. In addition to the Pinoy (Filipinos), there are workers from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, or Thailand and not all of them are Muslims; but they know how to maintain courtesy by wearing abaya when work outside. The abaya makes the curve of their body is not visible.