Tomohon was certainly one of the nicest places I visited in Sulawesi, but there was a dark side to the town. Much of this dark side was focused around the so-called “Extreme Market”, and walking around one afternoon gave me a chilling realisation that the name of this market was indeed very accurate!
The salesmen at Pasar Ekstrim seemed friendly enough; they greeted passers by with a smile and a simple nod of the head. Many even posed for photos for the tourists. I am not sure if these salesmen expected us to buy anything, after all, there’s not much we can do with a dead rat in our backpack. I noticed the market was full of local people from Tomohon and Manado (plus the odd tourist here and there), so the “extreme” nature of the market must in fact be for the local palette.
I guess the main reason people think this market is “extreme” is due to the kind of things on sale. There are so many different dead animals and reptiles for sale, including lizards, snakes, and even bats. These bats are usually bought in bulk by the people of Sulawesi for a indigenous snack called Paniki, which is essentially fried bat. It goes well with sambal, I am told! There were some live animals, too (such as spiders and lorikeets), but most of it here was already dead. This was in stark contrast to some of the other specialist markets I have visited in Indonesia, such as the Bird Market in Yogyakarta or the infamous Barito Animal Market in Jakarta.
Probably the most startling and upsetting part of Pasar Ekstrim in Tomohon was the sight of dead dogs being carved apart in full view of the passers by. While this practice would be frowned upon in Europe and the US, in many parts of Asia dog is perfectly acceptable on the menu – including in South Korea, China, Vietnam, and here in Sulawesi. I don’t know what dog tastes like – nor do I want to know – but it sure was a weird sight seeing man’s best friend looking so helpless and with a price tag of 300,000 Rupiah around their necks.