Have you ever been to a night market? A true night market that opens around 8 or 9PM and goes until midnight or just after? A place full of people eating delicious food and shopping for trinkets and knock off items? If you haven’t, find yourself at one because it’s worth every minute.
To be 100% honest, I have never actually eaten dinner at a restaurant while I’m in Taipei. I’ve done the vegetarian buffet in Khaosiung but never in Taipei. As a family we either always cook dinner or else we eat dinner at the night market.
Our group wandered over to the Taipei Main Station and we met up with the rest of our group. We grabbed the MRT and headed out to RaoHe. A few things to note about the MRT sations. 1) You queue for the train. There are designated waiting areas on the platform and you stand there and wait for the train. When the train shows up, you do not run onto the train but wait for people to get off before getting on. During rush hour in the busier train stations you will see volunteers standing there guiding people traffic to avoid any injuries. 2) You stand on the right and pass on the left. I know that this sounds ridiculous because it seems pretty common around the world but they definitely hold true to it there. Especially in the busier train stations. You will not see people taking up the entire escalator because they will get run over by the people trying to run up the escalator. 3) The trains stop running around midnight on the week days so be aware of that when you’re in Taipei.
We arrived at RaoHe which is one of the oldest night markets in the city and split up into groups. Realistically we split up because we had different levels of hunger and interest. A few of the boys headed off straight for the food. From what I heard, they spent about 3 hours eating. Literally, nothing else. A few other people were not very hungry because they had snacked at the HSR station earlier and wanted to shop and the rest of us took our sweet time walking down the street checking out all the good food.
My first stop was the dumplings. I am a total sucker for dumplings and cannot for the life of me say no to them if they are freshly made. You could get these with just soy sauce or a chili pepper soy sauce which is the best decision for me. You don’t typically get utensils because it’s all street food and you’re walking through the streets eating it. So you get a handy dandy stick that you stab your dumplings with and you chow down on the deliciousness.
We spent our evening walking down through the night market and back to the entrance. Raohe is not the largest night market in Taipei (ShiLin is) so it definitely has more of a neighborhood feel to it. All the quaint neighborhoods in Taipei will have night markets because it’s the common place to go for dinner or a late night snack.
One thing I loved about being in Taipei was that it gave me a challenge to speak Chinese with as many people as I possibly could. My Chinese is absolutely terrible and so it definitely made for a fun little game for me. More embarrassing than anything but still pretty awesome. At one point I got separated from the group and found myself in front of a pancake stand. You see, there is a snack in Taipei that is essentially two really fluffy small pancakes with red bean paste or chocolate put in between. You can usually buy 3 of them for a $1 USD and it is totally worth it. So, obviously I had to buy some.
Pretty sure the guy who sold them to me thought I was an idiot. Since I obviously look Chinese/Taiwanese people assume I can speak the language when I’m there. I can start talking to them and then it all goes downhill from there. I asked the guy if he had chocolate and he pointed to the sign and said here are all the flavors we had. I stared at the sign then told him I can’t read Chinese. Then he looked at me with the most baffled look and then proceeded to read each one to me in Chinese. Then I asked what something was and he…pointed to the English menu sitting right beneath the Chinese one. That happened. I awkwardly laughed and ordered three red bean and three chocolate pancakes, promptly paid and ran away as fast as my short legs could take me.
Our night ended with a train ride back to the Taipei Main Station, crawling into our excessively hard bed and falling asleep.