Taiwan’s Night Markets Taiwan’s most popular place to hang out in the evening and at night is in the night markets. There are several throughout Taipei, (Taiwan’s capital) as well as throughout Taiwan. Some of the night markets around Taipei area are Shi Lin, the market near Ming Chuan Univeristy, Ximen, Guting, Snake Alley, Danshui, and QingGuang, just to name a few. During the day, Shilin Night Market, the market near my school, vendors arrive in the morning and sell fresh fruits, meats, and vegetables. When it starts to get dark, around 5 or 6pm, the night market really opens. The streets become crowded with people, getting off of work, students from nearby colleges and high schools coming to eat or shop, children that want to play in the arcades to win small goldfish and more. The streets are then closed off to traffic so that only people can walk through and browse. Most of streets in the market are narrower than regular streets, with both sides lined with shops, restaurants, and street vendors. Most of the shops sell clothes, jewelry and shoes. Some of the clothing shops and vendors don’t have dressing rooms, but the clothes are cheaper than in regular stores. “It’s a pity that some places don’t have dressing rooms,” says Alex, an exchange student from France. “But at least in the market you can bargain for lower prices!” Other stores that are open throughout the day also get more business, such as the pet shops, massage parlors, hair salons, and school/office supply stores. The food vendors sell a large variety of Taiwanese food. Many like to sell fruit juice, where the buyer can choose the fruit he or she wants and watch as it’s sliced and juiced the fruit right in front of them. There are grill vendors, where the buyer can choose a skewer and watch it being cooked on the grill. Some of the grilled foods include squid, leeks wrapped in beef, pork, beef, green peppers, and more. Other vendors sell steamed or fried dumplings, fruit, curry, pancake desserts, candied fruit or vegetables on skewers, and an all-time Taiwanese favorite; chou doufu, also known as stinky tofu. “At first, it tastes like it smells.” Says Benni, a brave exchange student from Germany who decided to try it one night. “ But the more you eat it, the better the taste.” The smell of chou tofu is very strong, it can be smelled from far away. Besides the tofu, there’s also spring rolls, oyster omlets, buns filled with pork or vegetables, Guangdong congee (Shilin’s famous giant sausages), “frog laying eggs”, a sweet drink that has lime and pearl tapioca, gelato, red bean shaved ice and more. “It would take more than one trip to be able to try all the food,” says Catherine, a Taiwanese local. If foreigners are too timid to try the traditional Chinese and Taiwanese food, there are also American restaurants such as KFC, McDonalds, Starbucks, Cold Stone, Subway, Pizza Hut, Burger King and 7/11. In Shi Lin night market alone, there are four 7/11’s, all within a few feet of each other.
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