March 07, 2007

Episode XVIII: Alley of Excellence


I have arrived to Asia half year ago and that is my first time on this fantastic continent. Loads of things surprised me and some still do. I was expecting some of them but there is no chance to really guess what is going to meet you. So far, my stay is absolutely smashing and full of marvelous experiences, adventures and feelings.
Thing I would never predict, most probably because my lack of knowledge, is that I will have two occasions to welcome New Year. First one was, as usual for me, within the last day of December 2006. But here in Taiwan Chinese lunar calendar is in use. That calendar has got rules, quite difficult for me to understand. What is important, living in Kaohsiung I can celebrate New Year twice! For the second time, in a third week of February 2007.

When this special time is coming, there is one place in Kaohsiung city that visitor should not miss or forget to look in. This place is Sanfongzon Street, located in the neighbourhood of a train station, direction west.
It is the oldest shopping area in a whole city, situated between two other streets. It is 400 meters long, narrow, covered with glass roof and hanging lanterns, really stuffed and filled with stalls and shops. You can say: what is so special about it? Most of night markets are places like that.

That is not correct. Sanfongzon Street is bustling busy only two weeks a year, just at the time of Chinese New Year. Another thing is that selling goods are strictly connected with a celebration of this annual event.

The biggest difference between Sanfongzon and regular night market is a lack of numerous and various stalls with fresh barbequed, fried, steamed, boiled or any other kind of snacks. You do not go there to have a meal. You buy things to bring home or find some ingredients for your own recipe.
For example you can find large sacks full of dried mushrooms, high quality oolong tea or imported products from Korea or Japan. If interested in local cuisine, things compulsory to try are: sticky rice cake with sweet red beans, colourful jellies in white sugar powder or all kinds of dried seafood, meat or fruits.
Sanfongzon is a popular place and crowds are invading the venue from early hours. Visit to Sanfongzon could turn to a really tasty adventure. Taiwanese custom is to treat the guests with the best goods. Walking from one shop to another we will fill our stomachs quickly. Without spending any money we can try lots of unique specialties. While purchasing, to bargain is accepted.
I was astonished with the number of young people working at Sanfongzon market. It is great to see all those rising folks being so diligent and engaged. Big bravo goes to them. Good job.Time has come to send you my New Year's wishes. Here it comes: Gon-Si-Fa-Cay Hon-Ba-Na-Lay! Take care and keep on rocking!

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