Keelung, Taiwan

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Miaokou Night Market ... during the day

My life here seems to unfurl itself through odd turns of events. (That feels like I'm saying culs-de-sac, which feels oh so wrong.) There was that very unfortunate trip to Taichung (Taizhong) wherein I was kidnapped by my aunt and held hostage on a tour bus dressed in frilly powder blue and cream-colored curtains, the less unfortunate trip to Miaoli and the "Flying Cow Ranch" with yet another aunt ... and then there was this past Sunday, when I was taken away by yet another aunt ... one not of blood relations.

Luckily, this trip was only to nearby Keelung (another romanization I take issue with ... it's actually pronounced Jee-long which, in Mainland Chinese pinyin would be "Jilong"). Keelung is only about 45 minutes away by car and I actually almost ended up there in January during an ill-fated trip to Costco with my Chinese teacher.

This aunt is the sister of my uncle (one who is married to my aunt, my mother's sister). So really no blood relation there. She'd expressed interest in taking me out to see Taiwan the last time I saw her ... the night I arrived in Taipei. In November. And then I saw her again during a big family dinner last Friday night, when she approached me and reminded me that she had yet to take me out. So away we went ...

I really didn't know what to expect. I recognized her from photos of myself back when I was 2 and 6 years old, but other than that, I had very little recollection of who she was. I was slightly terrified as we hopped into a cab that took us to a bus stop where we boarded a bus heading towards Keelung, via Neihu (an up and coming technological center).

She was actually pretty cool, all things considered. She took me to Chung Cheng Park, where apparently two Buddhist temples are located. Then we went to the Miaokou Night Market to eat, eat and eat some more. She directed me to take photos of just about everything, "because that's what all the young people do these days." I obliged, sometimes not even knowing the significance of what I was taking a photo of.

Here are my photos ...

Keelung Harbor

Chung Cheng Park

The Goddess of Mercy statue
... I really should've slapped a filter on this before posting, yikes!

One of the 18 Luohans (also spelled Lohans, but I feel weird about writing that)

I've said this before, but I don't feel bad about saying it again: Taiwan's tourist attractions are almost pervertedly rampant with commercialism. There was some sort of animal ride rental right below the entrance to the Goddess of Mercy statue (which we climbed up) and in front of one of the temples, and mothers and their children were happily riding on these gliding giant stuffed animals ... so, so odd.

Radish "cake" smothered in sweet soy sauce and garlic sauce. This was tasty.

Left to right: shrimp ball soup, pork fat rice, some sort of meat (duck?) ... none of it was that satisfying to me,
and I still don't understand why the Taiwanese have hot soup at lunchtime on a 90*F day.

I didn't really understand what this was, despite watching the young guys make it right in front of me. 
It looked like some sort of risen dough, seasoned and fried. 
It didn't taste of anything to me. The cucumbers were the best part of this dish.

The aunt wanted me to take a photo of this woman making some sort of spring roll ... she said these rolls
are famous, but I heard another woman nearby say they were overrated.

This was yummy ... peanut shaved ice. So creamy ... I couldn't finish this.

I had some watermelon juice and then settled down for the last part of our foray through the night market ... rice "sausage" on the left and pig's blood soup on the right. I really didn't want the pig's blood soup, but I don't know if you could tell -- I didn't order any of these items. The aunt had something in mind for me before we'd even gotten there and I was followed. I'm just glad it didn't involving selling me or having me murdered! Neither of these were that great either.

She made me take a photo of this because the dish (pictured in the banner) is famous in Keelung
I have no idea what it is ... but I do know they have wi-fi and air conditioning ...

And she didn't let me leave until we'd bought one of these for "a midnight snack" ...
I stopped eating at 4:30pm and wasn't hungry until the next afternoon, nearly 24 hours later.

When my cousins heard that I was going to Miaokou Night Market, they told me there would be tons of great food there, especially the seafood. The aunt told me that she didn't trust any of the seafood, so we didn't have any. Overall, the food was just okay. Maybe the aunt's favorite places (some of which she's been eating at for 35-40 years) just haven't aged well. But I ate more that day than I ever had in one go in all my time in Taipei, including the various buffets I've been to.

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