M is for Market
Don't let that word tourist on the sign fool you. It doesn't mean what you think it means and the night market at Hwahsi is teeming with locals. The only thing scary here though, is some of the unidentifiable food items for sale and the fact that this market is also known as Snake Alley.
No, its not crawling with snakes.
Instead, snakes are jauntily perched atop restaurant counters, their blood and meat waiting to be served up on a plate or in a glass. Shudder. Its not so much the snake entree that makes me shudder but the row upon row of rodents in glass cages lined up on the wall beside the menu. I could not get my head around these two things side by side.
Because every entree needs an entree people. There's that whole crazy circle of life thing that happens in the animal kingdom, remember? They asked that you not take pictures in the snake stalls but I noticed online there are a few rule breakers out there. I'm not one of them so you'll have to trust me when I say live rodents in cages beside a menu acts as one terrific appetite suppressant.
There are six night markets in Taipei and Hwashi Night Market (Snake Alley) is one of the oldest. It sits in the former 'red light district', but that's been cleaned up and even the number of 'snake stalls' are much fewer than in days gone by.
As we traveled I made a few notes so I'd remember what I was seeing and how I felt. This particular night market was a place where my senses were in overdrive and my brain was racing to catch up with what my eyes were seeing. How do you look everywhere all at once? How do you sort out the pretty and the tasty...
from the things that make your stomach lurch?
Organs and kidneys and whatnot, oh my!
And what is that smell?
In all likelihood what you're smelling is almost always fish.
Keep in mind we're on an island.
An island that grows some ginormous carrots.
The produce here was amazing.
I think I need a cookie.
Cookies make everything better, don't they?
This is what we ate-
Helpful aren't I?
Regardless, this guy had some serious skilz.
The cookies were scrumptious and similar in taste and texture to a Madeleine.
Hey, maybe that's what the sign says?
It was hard to take pictures in the market because of the lights and the people and the everything. We were there just trying to take it all in...it's a fascinating place.
Before getting back on the subway we decided to try and find beautiful Lungshan Temple. We were standing just outside the market unsure of which way to go when an older Taiwanese gentleman noticed our confusion and attempted to point us in the right direction.
Evidently we still looked confused because suddenly he was waving for us to follow him and he led us all the way there, several blocks away. Would I do the same if I saw a confused tourist here?
I will now...
Kindness makes night in a foreign city feel less dark.