“When are all these people going to sleep, and why are all these children not in bed at this time?”  I was thinking to myself. Then I thought no, wrong thought pattern, the question should be “when are we going to sleep? What are we doing in town at this time of the night! That is because I am there as well, walking up and down the street and admiring the beauty of it all. The throngs of people walking shoulder to shoulder, with   hardly any space in between one two people, or the next person!! It is Ximen night market!! Its vibrant, it is spectacular!! Had read about Taiwan and all its attractions prior to coming, and of course they would have been not complete without the mentioning of night markets! But reading about the night market and seeing the night market is different. You got to be seeing it, be part of it to appreciate it. I am glad I will be part of this wonderful culture for the next eighteen months or so.

1st day into the country and my colleagues’ say we should go and find me a back pack. And straight to the night market we head. It is amazing!! The time is about 8pm and the shops are open, that’s a shocker. Shops close at 5pm in the part of the world that I come from!! Latest is 6pm. There is food being sold in almost every 10 metres steps!! Never have I seen so many people selling cooked food in one place at night!! It’s like there is some kind of ceremony going on! But nope, there is no ceremony, it is the night market and apparently it is an everyday occurrence in Taiwan. Oh I must see them all, these night markets.

The Ximen night market is kind of sophisticated, and by far the busiest I have been to. The things being sold there are beautiful. Some of the shoes are to die for!! I want them all!! There are a lot of restaurants as opposed to people eating on the pavement, but I guess that makes it a bit more expensive. It is more organized and has a lot of shop like stalls. But oh my!! It gets so packed at some of these shops, walking around is a nightmare!

Then there is Hualien!! Now that one was overwhelming! Crazy actually!! Never have I seen so many people in one place. Walking there was difficult. Getting from point A to B which was 20 metres apart took 20 minutes (ok maybe there is a bit of exaggeration there). One could easily get lost from their crowd if not careful. One of us had to lift up their handbag in their hand for us to identify and follow. There are no restaurants here, the food is served in the open, but its good food and it is cheap. We wiped our plates clean!   

Longshan night market!! Now that’s a quite different one!! Not as busy as the others. Kind of laid back and pardon my use of the word, antique-looking. But it still captures the tradition of night markets if I may say. There’s food and clothes, on the street. This one has a different kind of clientele. I see mostly old people here. Even the stalls seem to be run by the older generation. Some of the stuff found here seem to be second hand. There are very good bargains here. Things here are by far the cheapest.

The one very good thing in this country with all the crowds of people that are usually at the night market is that you will still go back home with your phone and other belongings. No pick pockets! I love that. One walks freely despite being among a lot of people. One does not have to clutch their bag like it is in some parts of the world. These night markets are quite an experience. Totally different from what one is accustomed to back home. Maybe the magic is in the night! I don’t know.