An Alpaca, Tossing Balls, and the Best Kept Secret in Hengchun
At last, we were staying in a place with a kitchen. We haven't had one for nearly two months and believe it or not we’ve been missing cooking our own food rather than eating out most of the time! A trip out to the morning and the night market in Hengchun. I wonder what delights we will find.
Our first port of call for Sunday was to the traditional food market. Hawkers were lining each side of the road as well as the small indoor market area. By the time we arrived, a few of the stalls were closing, but there was still plenty of fish and vegetables for sale.
We spied one nice looking stall with a large assortment of veg. We picked up a basket and were able to select our own items. I love visiting markets but don't like it when the vendors choose; I prefer to touch, make sure the courgette is not going soft, or the apple is not bruised.
We wanted some onions to go with our stir-fry, but there were only large bags. We were delighted when the stall-owner gave us a bunch of spring onions for free; he must have read our mind or understood English.
Our next stop was the supermarket for milk and oats (yes, our attempt of veganism didn't last long, we're back to dairy and fish). In the foyer, they had photos of all the local farmers who sold their produce here - what a great idea.
Along the way, we passed "Cape No.7" – ever heard of that? Tim had done his homework. It was one of the locations of a popular Taiwanese movie released in 2008. Afterwards, tour companies got in on the act and organised trips for fans to see the movie's shooting sites. Today, there was just a smattering of people taking photos of where Aga, the main character, lived, and we joined in. Well, it'll be rude not too.
Later in the day, Tim and I were just talking about visiting the Night Market when my phone started buzzing. It was Mike, who we met at Zeph's place. He had phoned me by accident! Funny enough he was also going to the Night Market, so we said we'd look out for him.
With much of the world in isolation, and watching videos of many tourist places empty, you would never believe that there was a crisis here. The market was still buzzing, and we were surprised to see that only 50% of people were wearing masks. With just 2 cases of the Big C in this county, we wonder if people are becoming complacent. Are we also?
Night markets in Taiwan are part of the culture, and there is probably one in every city here. Many are open 365 days of the year, but this one in Hengchun is only open on Sundays.
There wasn't just an array of food being sold here. We wandered between the throngs of people watching musicians performing and surprised to see a deer and an alpaca on leads.
At one stall, children were deciding which fish to buy as pets. I remember our son, John, winning a goldfish at our local fair when he was a young lad. It cost us £50 to buy a tank and other paraphernalia, an expensive free prize! I should have warned the mother.
Our first choice of food to try out was some squid balls in pesto. Well, that's what the menu said. Not our cup of tea, so we quickly bought some delicious sushi.
On another busy stand, we were mesmerised watching a guy flinging up some balls from a pan. It turned out that these were made from sweet potato and he was frying and tossing them until they had puffed up to triple the size. They were yummy!
Later we saw a cake stall. As many of you know, we have drastically reduced our sugar intake from when we were in South Korea, but who could resist the Natas! They were delicious and not too sweet. As we were standing there, Mike arrived. He was also tempted by the cake stall, knowing that if he bought some for Audrey, his partner, he would score quite a few points!
He bought a few cakes and then the stall owner added some more to his bag and handed me another cake – perhaps as I had introduced him to them, I'm not sure. From talking to Mike, it does seem as if some market stalls give freebies to new or referring customers. A great bit of marketing.
We'd had enough food for the day, and Mike fancied a beer. With our trusted Google Maps, Tim found a bar, but when we reached the pathway, it looked dark and deserted. We noticed a light in the distance and us three intrepid travellers walked towards it.
Mike said he'd never contemplate walking down a dark alleyway like this in a USA city. Taiwan feels so safe though. It is potential earthquakes that are more concerning than criminals.
We reached what looked like an abandoned wreck of a factory and realised that inside this roofless building was a bar – the New Cut Warehouse! Wow, what a find to stumble over the best-kept secret in town.
The large complex with concrete walls really was the coolest place I've ever been to; hip neon painted objects, unique seating areas for couples or large groups, whacky décor, musicians playing and area for skateboarding…every area was different. I'd love to meet the people or person who set this place up.
We sat chatting with Mike, and he shared how he met his partner Audrey. It was so sweet; there was adoring love flowing from his eyes. After a few beers, he needed to get back to his pad as she'd be returning from work. We continued to wander around this hip joint, enjoying the music - definitely a place to revisit.
We like Hengchun very much.