Sunday, March 17, 2013

Shilin Night Market and Lantern Festival Fail

Taipei is famous for it's Night Markets. There are a lot all around the city. Some markets are known for shopping and some markets are known to only sell food, while some have both. Shilin Night Market is the biggest and most famous one in Taipei, it's a tourist destination known for the food stalls selling street food as well as a place to shop for Taiwanese products and souvenirs.

Entrance to Shilin Night Market

We went to Shilin on our first night, so my tired
 daughter had not yet recovered from our flight
that arrived at 1am. She only naps in cabs.
The cab driver dropped us off on the main street that leads directly to the Shilin Market entrance (pictured above).
The street is lined with game booths similar to those in a carnival.
This one was really funny. Even Sofia woke up to look.
Go Angry Birds! Knock out those pigs!
Before we entered we saw this cart
with candied fruit kebabs.
It looked interesting but we didn't get to try it because
we wanted dinner first. Plus the vendor holds them with no gloves!
For dinner, we headed straight to the Hot Star stall for
XL Fried Chicken Chops (NT$55 or Php 80).
The line was so long it was snaking.
This was when we got closer.
Ooooh, look at that yummy pile of Chicken Chops.
The Chicken Chop was bigger than my face!
Beside the Chicken Chops Place,
there's a juice stall with a different Bitter Gourd variety (which they juice).
Ady just ordered the classic Lemon Plum Juice (lemon juice with kiamoy).
Then a few more stalls down is the giant sausages.
NT$100 for a few slices, served with raw garlic. Go figure.
My dad thinks we were ripped off, but it was still good.
We saw a sign that said there was a food court in the Basement so we attempted to go down because we thought we could find some seats (and perhaps more things to try) and eat there.
It looked very busy, with the seats provided by specific eateries.
It also looked more like a wet market than a modern food court.
Though there was cooked food, we decided it was just too stressful.

We just sat on the benches in front of the fruit stalls and nibbled on our chicken and sausage in peace instead.
The fruit looked so good but we were all so full.
They serve the strawberries with condensed milk.
They also had the green round fruit that is common in Vietnam.
They stuff cherry tomatoes with prunes.
Everything looks really yummy.
They also give you free taste of cut fruit when you pass.
Giant Balimbing (Starfruit)
The guavas were so huge. I have never seen ripe huge guavas before
because in our house, my dad likes eating it before it gets ripe.
Beside the row of fruit stalls, there are also game booths for kids.
Sofia was dying to play,
but I told her she can only play if she was a good girl while we shopped.
The local kids like catching fish.
While the adults were catching shrimp.
It seems like shrimping is quite a fad.
They have a small grill where you can cook the shrimp that you catch.
There were a lot of stalls with cutie stuff.
This place has bags that are a cross between rootote
and Cath Kidston.
These bags can pass for a Medium Roo.
There are also generic bags that have definitely been influenced by the IT-bags I've been wanting to own, but no, the local version doesn't have the same appeal.
Can you spy a bag inspired by the Celine Lugage Tote?
They managed to make a Gucci 1970 in Blue!
I didn't know it even came in that color.
There were also stalls with adult merchandise.
and of course, the usual souvenir shirts.
I didn't see an "My --- went to Taiwan and all I got was this lousy shirt!"
There were a lot of spoof shirts.
We bought a lot of the cute socks and patterned tights.
Papa and Sofia like it when there are seats beside the stalls we shop in.
Aside from the Main Shilin Market,
there are also a lot of alleys and side streets around with food and shops.
I wanted to buy this for me and Fi, but it wasn't cheap.
 Sayang for the Phils were there is no winter.
There was also a massage place there they massage your shoulders
by pounding you with a bundle of what looks like sticks.
I heard there were also places where they massage you with a Cleaver
(as in real Knives!) but this one was at the underground mall
of Taipei Main Station (NT$220 or Php330 for 10 minutes).

There were also stalls serving weird drinks that we were not adventurous enough to try.
Brown Sugar, Ginger, Dried Longan anyone?
It might go well with the Prawn Crackers that were popped, not fried.
We were also very intrigued by this stall called
"Wow Frog eggs".
It looked like they had lime and Jelly
but I don't really know what Frog Eggs look like.

We walked all the way to the back of Shilin Market which leads you to the old Shilin Cixian Temple.
The whole street is lined with food stalls.
They had grilled isaw (pork intestines),
just like the ones in UP.
The Cixian Temple was originally built in 1796.
A lot of the people used the steps of the temple
as their picnic place after buying food from the stalls nearby.
Me, Ady and Fif in front of the temple.

After we got tired of walking around, Sofia got her reward for being patient with us because we finally let her play some games. The guy told us that 1 game was NT$50 (Php75) or we could get 3 games for NT$100 (Php150). We opted to pay for 3 games so he gave us 3 tokens. 
Sofia's first game was where you roll the golf balls.
Happy to play.
She was very happy when she scored a 10 instead of a 2.
Then when we asked what prize she got the lady told us that they were not giving any prizes!!! She said that the tokens were only to be allowed to play. She said if we wanted to choose from the toys - we had to exchange our unused tokens for the toys without using them to play. Or atleast I thought that's what she said, language was a little bit of a barrier.

I was so irritated because either it was such a rip-off, or they were trying to take advantage of us, so I told Sofia to exchange her 2 unused tokens for a toy instead so it wouldn't be such a loss. It was even more irritating when I saw the toys Sofia could choose from. I could go to 168 and buy half a dozen of them for a fraction of the Php150 (NT$100) I already paid!!! Grrrrr. Don't get me wrong, it's not the amount. I just didn't get why there were no prizes for the games. If Sofia won a shitty prize, I wouldn't complain because she played for the fun of winning.
Anyway, we found a travel game
that I don't think I've seen in 168.
Sofia was happy to play with it,
so that makes it worth it.
But next time, we'll go straight to buying a toy.
No more useless games with no prize.
Save for that kiddie game rip-off the Shilin Night Market was a lot of fun. It's worth a visit.


The following night, we decided to go to the Lantern Festival at Yuanshan because it was highly recommended by the very helpful staff of our hotel. I think it was near the Filipino hang-out because we passed a lot of Filipino stores and remittance centers before the cab driver dropped us off.

We headed towards the Taipei Expo Park because it looked like
that was where the crowd was headed.
It looked busy, but the crowd seemed manageable when we arrived.
Ady and I with our Orla (2012 and 2013 collection)
The crowd turned out more than what we bargained for.
It was really super duper stressful. Imagine Great Wall of China - on a Chinese Holiday!!! But it's night time!!! I had nightmares of losing Sofia if I blinked!

As soon as I spotted a Lantern Vendor,
I dragged Sofia to buy something so we could leave.
She was very happy with her headband that lit up.
We took one souvenir shot before leaving.
In the background you can see a giant snake lantern,
for the Year of the Snake.
The Lantern Festival is held annually on the first full moon night of the Lunar New Year to symbolize the end to the Chinese New Year Celebrations, so it's really a big thing with the locals. It sure feels like most of them came to the Lantern Festival.

It was easier for us to get out of the area by crossing the street through the overpass bridge.
We were able to see the Grand Palace Hotel from the bridge.
On the other side, we were able to see some of the lanterns from afar.
I got to take Sofia and Ady's picture on our way out.
Some lanterns were nice, but if you're into lanterns, you
can also go to Clark Quay for the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Getting a taxi was a bit of a challenge. The only slip of paper I had in my pocket was "Shilin Market" in Chinese... so off to Shilin again we went.

Hello again Shilin Night Market.
The sky was bright because I think the full moon was a day of celebration everywhere so they were doing firecrackers througout the whole market.
Sorry for the blurry picture,
but you can see the green and red fireworks in the middle.
Every where we passed there was firecracker debris because they liked
using the really loud ones in addition to the fireworks in the sky.
We were happy to eat XL Chicken Chops again.

It's a good thing we went back to Shilin because this time we tried the fruit, and it was so good. Everything was so sweet!
My dad wanted to try the fruit because the lady told him
he could choose and assortment for NT$50 (Php75)!
He didn't realize it was NT$50 per 100grams. Our fruit bill was NT$250.
Hahaha. I blame the language barrier again.
So maybe the Sausage lady didn't rip us off after all.
I tried the cherry tomatoes with prunes.
They were ok, but the real fruit was so much better.
Thanks for the yummy fruit Pa!

My personal fruit favorites include the Honey Dew Melon and the Pears. But while I greatly enjoyed the Shilin Night Market, I can't wait to go back to explore Taipei's other markets. But I will never ever go to any Lantern Festival ever again. just saying. 

No comments:

Post a Comment