Location: 三鳳中街 Market, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
The 三鳳中街 (Sān fèng zhōng jiē) market runs all year round, but it’s busiest on the run up to the Lunar New Year. It’s an indoor market that runs parallel to JianGuo 3rd Road, and if you weren’t paying attention you could easily miss it – Not on the day I visited, though.
There was a buzz all around the corner of JianGuo and ZhongHua Road. A few calligraphers had set up shop and were writing auspicious calligraphy signs for all to see. These are the messages that are hung up around front doors throughout Taiwan. Rather than enter the market right away, I first spent some time with the calligraphers.
Each calligrapher had a different style. One had a large table with stacks of the red paper strips next to him. He would grab a strip, hold it down with a length of glass and write, moving the paper up as he went. He let me take as many pictures as I wanted and deliberately continued so as to give me more time. You can see him at work in this Youtube video:
Another had an easel of sorts, with his pots of ink clipped to the side. He was also willing to be photographed and even put on his blue Japanese style jacket which I think works really well with the red of the paper.
There were a few others doing calligraphy, but by this time I already had my fix of Chinese characters and so headed into the market.
Inside it was difficult to move as there was so much going on. The vendors lined the sides of the market, which is a small (mostly) pedestrianised area, shouting at the passers-by to “try a free sample!” because “they’re delicious!” and “picked this morning!”, “very fresh!” and so forth. There’s all sorts of 年貨 (Niánhuò) on sale here – that is, supplies for the new year celebrations such as tea, nuts, dates, dried squid, ginseng, various biscuits and crackers, grain, dried fruit, mushrooms, Chinese medicine, and stuff that I have no idea what it is.
The sheer number of people and vendors hawking their goods made it difficult to take many photos, so now and again I would duck into one of the many side alleys to take a break.
There’s actually a nice temple just down one of the alleys, with a giant stone mural in front. I’d been here before and the people were very friendly, but there weren’t many people about that day – no doubt they were in the market somewhere.
After hanging about near the temple I headed back in to the market and decided to walk to the end of the street before heading back to my scooter. That’s when I noticed a coffee stand down one of the alleys. I went over and ordered a coffee and ended up meeting White and Stacey. They had rented some of the buildings there and turned the place into a space for artists to use and hang out. In front of the building they were selling coffee and snacks. It’s a really nice place to check out so if you’re in the area head over there to say hello. They’re located in Lane 28, off the main market street. Here’s their Facebook page.
This market is one of he must-visit spots in Kaohsiung, even if you don’t go around the new year, as there’s a unique feel to the place that you won’t find elsewhere. I hope the artists that have found a home there generate some interest of the area to younger Taiwanese.