Buying local products is harder than you might think in such a tropical paradise like Timor Leste. Generally speaking there is but one normal market with the largest choice and with comfortable ambiance where you can come at any time of the day – it is the one in front of Lita Store.
Some say Taibesi market is bigger but I for one don’t like to go to that area: noisy, dusty, dirty, works only early in the morning, messy so it’s hard to find what you need and you have to walk a lot around the area at least first times. And I found prices not much different from the Central (let’s call it like this) market near Lita.
Being a patron I am recognized and can lower the prices significantly but it cost me lots of nerves cause I’m a rare kind of “malae” who knows how to bargain and takes the time to do it on a regular basis.
It saddens me to see how new comers to the country buy fruits and veggies at whatever prices without an eyebrow raise. Haggling is very important not only for my own comfort (actually it can be pretty exhausting) but for the sake of the future of this country. Timor Leste is already the most expensive Asian country due to a massive infux of NGO employees who spend money like crazy ruining the local real estate/car and bike rental/HoReCa markets in this country, making it absolutely unattractive for tourists.
I sometimes pull over to bargain while I pass by local markets in the districts like Liquica (the situation with prices on fruits is the worst over there) even when I am not actually going to buy anything just to let people know that they are selling very expensive. When they tell me something like 3$ for a small bunch of babanas I make wide eyes, say that the price is crazy and drive away hearing them shout “OK, Mister, 2,50$!” But I know the real price and now I will tell you and hope you will use it wisely. Everything in the photo was bought at the Central Market near Lita:
Big bunch of babanas (20) – 1$
16 Maracuja/passion fruits – 2$
11 Tomatoes – 1,5$
3 average cucumbers – 1$
4 big fresh avocagos – 1,5$ (update: the next week I got them for 1$)
5 average mangoes – 1$
Once again – do bargain all the time for the sake of this country’s future. Giving people money for nothing won’t help them, won’t motivate them to do something differently/better in their business and definitely won’t teach them better and more efficient farming practices.