Warning: this article on the Tomohon Market contains images of dead animals and may not be for the fainthearted. Continue reading at your own leisure.
The Tomohon Market in the mountains of North Sulawesi, Indonesia is a traditional market known for selling entirely different types of meat than what we are used to. Some find it disturbing, some find it sickening, and some will happily try it.
We first heard about this traditional market from a Canadian couple we met on the Kinabatangan River. Actually, it was also the first time that we heard about Sulawesi itself, its rich culture, and paradise islands.
Speaking so highly of Sulawesi, they soon mentioned the Tomohon Market, showing us pictures of a variety of lifeless animals laid out across counters
We have always heard of these types of markets or have seen them in documentaries, but never once came across one. So in a way, we were quite keen to visit the Tomohon Market and to see the local delicacy with our own eyes.
The Tomohon Market
After renting a bike at our hotel in Manado, we made the hour long journey towards the Tomohon Market. Arriving at the market, it seemed to look like any other market that we've been to before in Southeast Asia. Stalls were full of local veg, tropical fruit, fresh fish, and the biggest papayas we have ever seen.
Although that was all great, it wasn't what we were looking for. We were more interested in getting a glimpse of the rare meat market.
At first, we thought we were at the wrong market until we made our way towards a cage full of live chickens. Met by the smell of torched hair and a stench of fresh and stale blood, we knew we were in the right area. You could literally smell death in the air.
Inside a rooftop market, we could see the heads and other body parts of pigs spread out. Other vendors were selling sliced up pythons and amputated bats. The wings and feet from the bats were divided up and sold separately as snacks next to their lifeless bodies.
Further down through the hall was an area where pet lovers might start feeling a little bit emotional. Stalls here had what seemed to be freshly killed cats and butchered and burned dogs. Blood from their stiff bodies continued to drip onto the floor.
Outside, men were at work torching the hair off the bodies from the freshly killed animals.
The saddest thing for us wasn't the already dead animals, but the dogs still alive in cages waiting to be killed. You could see in their desperate eyes they knew what was happening around them while awaiting their fate. We were fortunate enough not to have witnessed the beating and torching of the animals while still alive.
When To Visit The Tomohon Market
We visited the Tomohon Market during the week, while it was not in full swing. Saturdays are the busiest, as locals from all around the region come to sell their freshly caught bush meat.
What are your thoughts on the Tomohon Market? Would you consider visiting one of these markets or have you been to one before? Share with us in the comments below 🙂