2014-04-12

Miaokou Night Market (廟口夜市)

One of the best night markets I've been to is definitely Miaokou Night Market (廟口夜市) in Keelung (基隆).  I think the variety of food found at the market makes it stand out, especially the types of seafood.  The night market is the main attraction of the city, and it's worth going to Keelung just to eat there.

Even when it's raining, you can't keep the crowds away from this market!
This is the more touristy section with clearer signs and lanterns.

We're in Hollywo-! oh wait, Keelung...
I usually go to Keelung by bus from Danshui (bus 892).  It's a 2-hour ride, which may seem like a long time, but on a clear day it's quite fun since the ride is scenic as the bus route hugs the coast and goes through several little villages in the northern, more remote part of New Taipei City.  You could stop by Sanzhi (三芝) and enjoy the beach, or take a break in Jinshan (金山) and explore the Ju Ming Museum.

Once you get to Keelung, Miaokou Night Market is easy to find. Just walk from the harbor to Rensan Rd., it takes about 10 minutes.  The train station is near the harbor, and if you decide to go to Keelung by bus, you will be dropped off at the harbor not far from the train station, where you can admire the obnoxious "Keelung" lettering in the mountains.

Hua Guan Tower (華冠大樓) is the tallest building in Keelung.
Honestly, it's a little awkward because there aren't many
tall buildings in Keelung...
Miaokou Night Market is clearly (yet unofficially, I believe) divided into two main parts: the "touristy" side, and the "local" side.  Which side is the best?  I think you might already know - the local side, yet there are delicious snacks sold in the more commercialized area as well  You can get the famous ice cream there or try oily rice (油飯) from several stalls in the touristy section, but the interesting treats are found in the local area, the focus of my subsequent visits to the market.

Crowded with people, people, and more people as usual.
Tank-fresh frogs!
A stand selling crab, oily rice, and mixed soup among other things.
Grilled chicken parts along with other little snacks.
More grilled and fried treats.
Fried crab.
Fresh fruit!  Guavas are the best in Taiwan.
Oily, gluttonous rice (油飯) is a popular dish at this night market.  
Me buying food, as usual.
I bought zongzi (粽子) which is sticky rice mixed with a number of ingredients
then wrapped in leaves and steamed.
Dianji Temple (奠濟宮), the centerpiece
of the Miaokou Night Market.
Aside from all the delicious food, one of the main attractions in Miaokou Night Market is Dianji Temple (奠濟宮).  It's easy to locate since it's on a small, short side road connected the local part of the market.  Like most temples in Taiwan, it's absolutely gorgeous and shouldn't be missed.  Plus, there's space around the temple to take a break and eat all the food you've bought!

The last time I went to Miaokou Night Market, I stopped by a crab restaurant just right of the temple.  It was bustling and many people were eating there and getting take away, so I assumed the crab would be tasty.  But...when I got home, I discovered they'd scraped most of the meat out of my crab!.  I was so infuriated that I forgot to take a picture.  I don't know if that was a type of foreigner scam or what but there was hardly any meat in my 250NT crab.  

The crabs they were serving were perfect, why wasn't mine?!

Miaokou Night Market is a great place to visit if you find yourself in northern Taiwan.  However, be diligent as there is a group of thieves working the market according to the local police. In fact,  my friend's wallet was taken from her backpack there.  So, take care of your belongings if you visit Miaokou Night Market, or when you go to any night market for that matter.

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