The Market in Bogota – Paloquemao

A salesman peeks out from his herb stall at Paloquemao market.
A salesman peeks out from his herb stall at Paloquemao market.

Paloquemao is possibly the most famous market in Bogota. Paloquemao is located in the west of Bogota. As people often refer to it as the “flower market,” I had expected rows and rows of flower stalls under and open roof.

One of the passages in the market.
One of the passages in the market.

Instead, Paloquemao was a warren of narrow stalls all bunched together like a souk. There were separate sections for fruit, meat, house plants, and food stalls. The prices were better than at the supermarkets.

The fruit lady was very friendly and kept making me try new fruits, once I told her that I only wanted to try fruits I’d never tried before. I left with a backpack full of produce for 30,000 Colombian pesos ($15). It didn’t even occur to me to bargain. Should I have?

There is an even bigger market, Abastos (also called Corabastos or Central de Abastos), which is the wholesale market and apparently the second largest in South America. I’ll visit it one of these Sundays.

The array of fruit and vegetables from the market.
The array of fruit and vegetables from the market.

Buy A Rickshaw to Go for Less Than $3,000!

For some expats, the biggest souvenir they buy in Bangladesh is a rickshaw. I decided to buy one for the blogging experience. There are many places where you can get them. Apparently the folks at River Tours will arrange a sale for you. If you want a used one, it is unlikely that the local rickshaw puller owns his own and so he may not be able to sell it to you. A colleague bought two rickshaws so I got the shop information from him.

The rickshaw shop.
The rickshaw shop.

Then I enlisted the help of two Bangladeshis. One arranged for us to go out to the rickshaw “shop” and made an appointment with the rickshaw maker for us. The shop we went to was back in the rabbit warren of streets to the north of Baridhara (it ended up being somewhere near the train tracks, for those of you who know your way around Baridhara). Without my Bangla-speaking Bangladeshi, I would never have found this shop. The shop was more of a “parts” shop and there were no shiny ready-made rickshaws for sale. That said, looking at the photo, now I see the tires on the roof.

Rickshaw Maker: Hasan

Phone: 0174059294

Address: Maria Cycle store, 97/1 Joar Shahara Bazar Road, Dhaka.

The rickshaw took one week to build, it weighs 250 pounds, and cost 20,000 taka (about $250). I paid 5,000 taka in down payment and rest on delivery as you can see from the receipt but you can pay all of it at once if you prefer. If I had bought two or more, I would have received a bulk discount (and remember that everything can be negotiated so I could have perhaps haggled to a lower price. Frankly, I was distracted by the gentleman on the right in the photo who was performing depilation in his nostrils — I could not take my eyes off his fingers!).

Hasan's number is on the receipt.
Hasan’s number is on the receipt.

I left the decoration of the rickshaw completely up to the craftsmen making it. At one point, the shop owner called to find out which name I wanted painted on the back and my friend told him to put my name on the back! I will most likely paint over it at some point. The rickshaw also has the maker’s telephone number and name painted on it. I like how my rickshaw is decorated although I would have chosen to not have guns painted on it, despite this being the tradition.

Freshly painted rickshaw.
Freshly painted rickshaw. Sells for $3,000 in World Market!

The rickshaw was ready a day early and the rickshaw maker wanted to deliver it as soon as possible. I asked why the urgency… they did not want it to get dirty. It was delivered to me fully assembled and driven by a professional rickshaw driver. Since then, it has only been driven by two people. I will mostly keep it in my future home, as a piece of installation art. Some people have suggested I take it out and give rides on it…

Yesterday, a friend recently sent me the link to World Market’s site advertising Bangladeshi rickshaws on demand for $3,000! But, theirs are not meant for actual use (it says so in the ad). Therefore it is better to buy one while in Bangladesh.

Normally, I try to post a new blog every sixth day, but because of yesterday’s rickshaw email, I decided to publish this now.

The answer to my previous post’s trivia game of “M’s Adventures moves to ______?” is: It is a country with a river famous for being the most _colorful_ in the world. Thanks to the random person on the Internet who decided to play along.

All Under One Floor – Unimart

Ziplock style bags...
Ziplock style bags…

Until Unimart opened up early this year, Dhaka did not have a true one-stop-shop. Unimart is located on Road 90, under the first floor and it is a large shop for Dhaka. They have a bakery, a deli, an ice cream stand, a fishmonger, green grocer, gift store, clothing, shoes, and almost everything you might need or want.

Plastic hangers and plastic buckets, etc.
Plastic hangers and plastic buckets, etc.

They even have toasters, blenders, irons, school supplies, hijabs, football/soccer jerseys, and toys. I bought a jigsaw puzzle of Bangladesh for under 300 Taka ($3) which I plan to give as a gift.

Every kind of long life milk.
Every kind of long life milk.

Grocery Stores in Gulshan

As an expat, grocery shopping can be an adventure. But if you don’t want one, here’s a list of stores which come closest to what you would find in the U.S., Australia, or England. Many of these places are on my map of 99 expat places.

Lots of imported fruit and freshly spritzed lettuce.
Lots of imported fruit and freshly spritzed lettuce.

Unimart, Road 91, near Gulshan 2 circle: Opened July 2013. Wide clean aisles… The store is like a small Target or Walmart. It is in the basement with parking garages below. Excellent service. Everything from coat hangers, plastic flower pots, sports jerseys, kitchen appliances, clothes, fresh fruit, British pickles (no food dye), children’s shoes, men’s shoes, sports gear, bakery, etc. etc. Very clean and with wide aisles.

Dali, in the corner of DIT 2 (the horsehoe market across from the Westin): A good selection of fresh meat, vegetables, and the usual canned goods. Houses the Australian Butcher who will butcher to order.

Agora, in the Agora building on Gulshan Avenue, same building as Bamboo Shoot: This has pretty much everything. A little pricey.

Lavender, on the road behind the Landmark building which is the northwest quarter of Gulshan 2 circle: It has a fair selection for hefty prices. The second floor is great for nail polish, toys, etc.

Korean Mart, road 12 in Banani: They have everything from fresh tofu, vegetables, buckwheat, and almost everything you didn’t know that you wanted. It’s pricey.

Meena, Road 11, Banani (It’s a local chain so you will find them all over.): Has almost everything but not so much of it.

Like bingo night -- they will call your driver up from the garage.
Like bingo night — at Unimart, they will call your driver up from the garage.

Then there are some small shops that one could shop at which do not sell pots and pans:

White Hen, near Rok restaurant in Banani: This is mostly a deli and bakery run by the same guy who is the “Australian butcher” at Dali.

“Organic grocer” — is Southwest Gardens. They have vegetables, frozen fish, rice, honey.

German Butcher, on road 59 (I think): deli meats, cheese, bagels, fresh brown bread, and they will butcher pork to order.

London Sausage House, number 14 on my map of 99 expat places: It’s got deli meats, cheese, etc.

Some of these places will deliver as well.

Delivery truck.
Delivery truck.