Friday, April 11, 2014

Taiwan Travelogue: Off the Beaten Path with a local Night Market

Night markets are aplenty in Taiwan, and there is just an endless list of the popular recommendations of the night markets to check out when in the city of Taipei. Occasionally we would love to stray from the tourism path and take the road familiar, or probably even unknown to the locals themselves.
It is part of exploring the inner circle of the place to get acquainted with the local culture, which is best done when you go off the beaten path, and that was exactly what we did, when we took note of this particular night market near our hotel, where it is tucked away in a residential area and hailed by the landmark of the local Sanmin High School in the Luzhou district.

It was the last stop on the train heading in Luzhou's direction, and as you can see, it was a relatively isolated station, probably due to the area being mainly a residential area which would only be crowded in the peak hours when the folks head to work or school.

It was not too hard to locate the night market, which was approximately 10 minutes walk away from the station, but it may seem as though one may be unsure when faced with the quiet neighborhood and the narrow roads with only the occasional passing car, and even a pedestrian.
Yes, the streets were rather isolated at night in this neighborhood.

The Sanmin Night Market is a total spin off from the usual buzz and crowds in the far more reputable Shilin and the other night markets on top of the list, that one might be inclined to think that this was just an ordinary street lined with stalls at night and hardly one would call a night market.
It is not unexpectedly so; since this is located within a discreet neighborhood and intends to cater to the communal needs of the vicinity.

What not to expect: Crowds and major brands of tourism filled with a wide variety of choices plastered over the places, or folks replying to your questions and conversing in English
What to expect: An everyday spectacle of the residents going about their habits; with the after schoolers and blue/white collar workers making beelines to the food stalls for their snacks, or perhaps  a pick of their dinner choice from the array of choices available; with a sporadic appearance of families with young offsprings enjoying a slow evening walk browsing through the stalls.

An apparel stall set beside the alley into a temple 

Deep fried Sweet Potato balls for a snack 

A typical bread and pastries stall; just like ours back in our own markets with the daily freshly baked pastries from their own ovens or neighborhood confectioneries.

A children's apparel stall

Spotted this little stall ran by an elderly woman, selling the Egg Waffle which I have been looking for; Gai Dan Chai (which I have tried, once in Hong Kong and back at home)

It is not hard to find this Tokiwado everywhere in Taiwan's night markets, which is simply quite delightful as it was quite a harrowing task locating them in my own backyard.
These are mini top-hat pancakes (thicker flour dough) with red bean paste in the middle (conventional flavor). Some of the innovative vendors would be offering a wide variety of the flavors, keeping up with the ever changing tastes and trends of the modern society.

Sanmin neighborhood Night Market may be a far cry from the hip assemblage found in Shilin or even Raohe, but a taste of the distinctly unique and definitely quieter resident street market is quite a
riveting change in the itinerary, away from the hustle bustle of the rowdy city scenes.
This would be interesting for those looking for an unconventional, off the beaten path and a glimpse into a district townsfolk-run night market.

Besides, who would say no to a jostling-free environment where you could take a slow stroll and enjoy each and every stall at your own pace, in the cool breeze of the evening?

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