Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Taiwan Travelogue: Jianguo Holiday Flower Market and Jade Market

One of the interesting markets to visit while in Taipei would definitely be the Jianguo Holiday Flower Market and Jade Market which are only available on weekends.
Holidays, especially during the Lunar New Year/Spring is when the market is at its best crowd where folks would happily flock to the market to select fresh blooms and auspicious items available here for the purpose of decorating their homes and ushering in the luck for the brand new year.

Getting to the market is again, via the train where one would need to take the train to Da-an Station, which is possibly the most beautiful station in Taiwan.

Floral-themed murals adorn the walls in the station and there is just that cheerful aura when one alights at the station.

If that is not enough to set one in the mood, be prepared for a warm greeting when you step out of the station out onto the streets where flowers are in bloom outside a building, and then you are passing by random folks with stalks of flowers in their hands.
Yes, spring is all over this place and follow the crowd (or the scent of the flowers) as you head towards the underpass section under the Jianguo Expressway; where Xinyi Road and the Jianguo South Road meets.

The Jianguo Holiday Flower Market and Jade Market are located in two separate buildings which were actually converted from car parks into this buzzing markets. The two markets are connected, and you will cross from the flower market over to the jade market.

Start with the flower market, where one will definitely be overwhelmed by the varieties of flowers all displayed at the stalls. The beautiful colors of the flowers in bloom just brightens up the entire marketplace, which was covered and well-ventilated for a comfortable stroll and browsing through the different stalls.

As it was approaching the Lunar New Year season during my visit, it was an interesting sight of auspicious flowers and plants on sale which were in demand by the believers of good luck and fortune. From peonies to orchids, roses, cherry blossoms and lilies, these are all icons of well-meaning which are pursued by the Chinese for symbols of new beginnings and prosperity in the upcoming spring.

The Chinese also believe in buying plants; for instance kumquat trees, or money trees (Malabar Chestnut trees) to grow in the house which symbolize a growth in their wealth and well-being.

It is all about flowers here, and photographers would be pleased with the wide varieties available for their leisure shooting.
Do be careful of some of the stalls as they do not permit photography, and they might be telling you in a rather unkind manner. Therefore, do observe before you take that shot.

Auspicious decoration for the plants in conjunction with the upcoming new Spring.

Besides plants and flowers, one can expect to find potteries and gardening tools available at the market too. Flower seeds, fertilizers can all be found in the flower market.

Walk through the 800m long Flower Market and then cross over to the Jade Market on the other side.

The Jade Market was less rowdy compared to the flower market, and the crowd is nothing compared to that of the former; consisting of mostly foreign tourists interested in purchasing a piece of the famed jade as souvenirs to bring home to their countries.
There are all sorts of jades and accessories on display at most of the stalls; from little trinkets for your cell phones, earrings, pendants to large statues which could cost more than five figures.

It is a delightful place for jade enthusiasts to ogle at the different types and shapes of jades imaginable, and it would take an eye for one to be able to tell the value of the jades.
Jades are believed to be auspicious items which can bring its wearer good fortune if it suits the nature of the wearer, and it is also believed to be able to protect its wearer from evil or harm.
It was said that if a jade breaks or falls from its wearer, it was supposed to be taking away the misfortune and that the owner should let it be.
However, it is also important that the wearer should be compatible with the type of jade, or it may not be that effective for the wearer in the end.

One of the most popular items here was reputed to be the Jade Ruyi; which translates to 'according to one's wish' in Chinese and is extremely regarded with high favor among the Chinese population. This attracted the foreign tourists to its existence and is one of the most popular takeaway from this market.

The Jade Market is rather subdued in its environment and due to the sensitivity and also the value of the jades, it is best to avoid photography at the jades on display as the stall owners would also prohibit any form of photography on their possessions.
Therefore, please be respectful of this and enjoy the stroll in the Jade market.

The two markets are popular among the locals and as they are available on weekends and holidays, it would be interesting to drop by these markets while in Taipei for an insight into the local culture.
Of course, the best time would be during the Lunar New Year season where one can truly see the excitement and more varieties available.
After all, the Taiwanese are firm believers of good fortune, and who isn't anyway?

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