Monday, September 22, 2014

Wufenpu and Raohe Night Market

Yesterday I decided to pay a visit to the Wufenpu Wholesale District. This area is comprised of blocks upon blocks of clothing wholesalers, selling everything from men's suits to fancy gowns and cute ribboned headbands. Stores are laid out like a market, and the little boutiques face open to the street. There is a dizzying array of goods, and seemingly endless alleys and turns that lead to evermore stores. If you really wanted to carefully shop and find the best deals, you might need at least an entire day to explore!

Wufenpu is located a few minutes walk away from the Houshanpi MRT station. You'll know it when you see it! It's not for the weak hearted. I started feeling almost dizzy after wandering the streets, with the limitless options, bright lights, trendy fashions, and welcoming storekeepers. The selection here is great, though I don't think the prices differ too much from your standard night market. Perhaps the deals are better if you are a wholesale buyer.

In order to get some fresh air, we wandered to a nearby riverside park by Keelung River. Taipei has a lot of great public parks, and they usually are well-maintained and popular with residents. There are basketball and tennis courts, benches, playgrounds, and bike lanes. In the cool of the early evening people were riding bikes and jogging alongside the water.

It was quite a picturesque place to watch the sunset, and we saw a few photographers setting up tripods near a bridge to patiently capture the gorgeous but fleeting view.

The parkway is thoughtfully separated from the main throughway by a high wall. This wall probably provides some soundproofing, and it also preserves the natural feel of the riverside from the feel of the busy city. You can see in the below photo the difference between the two sides of the wall.

After the sun set, we walked to the nearby Raohe Night Market to grab some food to eat. Raohe is especially famous for its panfried pork buns. They are toasty on the outside without being fried and oily. This vendor is right at the entrance of the market, near the large temple. There are usually long lines that have to be cordoned off with tape.

The pale buns sitting outside the large pan are uncooked, and the ones inside are ready to be served to the next lucky person in line.

Another interesting snack that we stumbled across were these little egg pancakes. Now, they look like the round pancakes that are normally sold on streets that contain red bean or peanut paste. However, these were special! They each contain an entire egg that is cracked into the middle of the pancake before it is capped during the cooking process.

I wish I managed to take a photo of the inside of the pancake. The egg yolks are a brilliant shade of orange, which means that the egg is really fresh and good quality. You could also add additional flavors like cheese and chocolate.

Lastly, we had dessert! This was an unplanned dessert - the best kind. We were walking out of the night market when we came across a girl handing out samples of snow ice. The sample was good enough that we decided to stop for a mango snow ice. We were confused by why this cafe was so empty - the desserts were fantastic!

The mango snow ice is a complex and layered dessert. At the bottom is a huge mound of snow ice (a light, milky, creamy version of ice cream. The snow ice is topped with fresh cubed mango, a scoop of rich vanilla ice cream, sugary cornflakes, and a biscuit. It was really fun to eat, and the size was made for sharing. This big bowl was $160 TWD (about 5 USD).

This was a fun little excursion - a little shopping, a little nature, and delicious food!

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