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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Fengjia Night Market Madness!

How we nearly got killed! I'm not kidding!


I'm pretty experienced when it comes to night markets (or so I thought). Before I visited Fengjia Night Market 逢甲夜市 in Taichung, I've been to over 20 night markets, mostly in Northern Taiwan. When I saw the huge crowds in Luodong, Taiwan's most crowded night market in the north, I have never ever dreamed that there can be a night market as crowded as that one. But I was so wrong. The Fengjia Night Market in Taichung on the evening of April 3rd completely overwhelmed me. I have never seen so many people at one place in Taiwan and it was the first time I really feared for my life. I kid you not: I was scared! I will tell you why.

The Fengjia Night Market in Taichung is the biggest night market in Taiwan and after my own experience, I can completely sign that statement. I haven't seen any night market in Taiwan comparable in size and the number of people. It was like on a rock concert. It was surreal. Of course we made a big mistake by visiting the night market before the Tomb Sweeping Day, a national holiday. The roads in Taichung were completely clogged with cars, buses and scooters and I've never seen such a big traffic jam in my life.

We needed 1h and 30min from Taichung Station to Fengjia Night Market by bus. And we had to stand. The traffic was so slow, even the bus driver has never seen something like that and kept apologizing.

Once we reached the area, we were let out, the driver said we'll be faster by foot.

Once we reached the night market, the crowds were ridiculously huge.

This is the video I made while walking 2m per minute.

Once we were stuck inside, we hoped that later the crowds will be less. We were so wrong! We kept walking and walking and there were more and more people. At one point we were stuck and couldn't move into any direction.

This was the worst and the scariest part. I told my wife not to go in the center.

I pulled her on the side and we tried this popular snack, the only one we had chance to.

A banana dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with peanuts: Really delicious.

And then it got scary. We started to walk, but couldn't move, because near the stalls people were waiting for food, so we had to go in the central part. But once there, people pushed more and more and I got worried, especially for the wellbeing of my wife. At one point I was literally being squashed by many people at the same time and totally lost control of my body. I became worried for my wife, who was walking in front of me, I didn't want her to get hurt. If she fell down, she could've possibly been trampled to death. The situation reminded me of the stampede in Duisburg (Germany), where 19 people were trampled to death on a concert in 2010. So I tried to steer my wife to the right side, near the stalls and I think it was a good idea. We found small holes and made it to the part, that was less crowded.

I was so relieved, when I saw this area.

This experience shocked me. I couldn't enjoy the food and the atmosphere, I just wasted time and money and had great concern for my wife's life. This was probably the worse night market experience I had so far.

Nevertheless, I want to return here one day. I was advised to go during the week, where the crowds are less big. Fengjia Night Market has some of the best food in Taiwan, it's truly something I can't miss, if I want to call myself a serious "Night Market Blogger". It's just that I'm so busy lately, I have time to go so far out from Taipei. Those of you, who do have time, better don't go there on weekends and especially not before holidays. I'm not a big fan of Taichung. I like the good weather and friendly people, but that's about it. I have a good friend there and that's the only reason that makes me return to this city. The population density is so big, but there's no subway. It's really a disastrous situation. For a spoiled Taipeier like me, Taichung would be very inconvenient to live, even if I had a car.

Nantou City :Before [Central Taiwan 2011] Next: My trip tips and observations>>

15 COMMENTS:

I love banana dipped in chocolate. De-lish!!!

Oh my God it must have been terrible really... :-( I was at a snowboard contest in Austria and the same happened to me.. I was so scared I couldn't breath... the year afterwards some people died... after that they decided to have some security measure... but I know how you felt... my boyfriend back then was scared for me too... Woah... Happy you're both safe!!!

I can tell this was a really frightful experience! Even when you write, you keep repeating "I was scared! I was scared!"

I have seen big masses in Beijing, in Seoul and even in a London metro station, and it is scary, especially for people not used to. I am glad you both made it safely, back home!

Wowie people mountain people sea..love the banana with the choc & peanuts.

somehow i guess as much that bananaz will like the banana with the choc & peanuts. hehehheh....

I felt scared just reading your post. I hate crowds, especially when they are so large and dense you have no control over where you are moving. I am glad you are both okay.

you could've let out a massive silent killer fart, maybe you would've gotten a bit more space then =p

Wow! So many people? I hate crowds!! Yes can get dangerous by being trampled!

Ooh! I think I will love that banana dipped in chocolate! Yummy!

Thanks for your comments, girls and guys. It was truly horrible.

@Kit: Haha.. funny!

Hey you get over it, lol, but I do to like the banana dipped in chocolate. Hope all is well otherwise. Anna :)

Hey MKL,
I've been reading your blog for a while now (I'm one of those silent feed-reader types who don't usually comment), and i've enjoyed your posts. Lots of photos, heaps of info and bags of your personality...

What lead me to comment for the first time on your blog? This comment:

"I'm not a big fan of Taichung. I like the good weather and friendly people, but that's about it. I have a good friend there and that's the only reason that makes me return to this city. The population density is so big, but there's no subway. It's really a disastrous situation. For a spoiled Taipeier like me, Taichung would be very inconvenient to live, even if I had a car."

(Don't worry, I've read your comment policy...) ;)

I've lived in Taichung now for 6 months, moving here a few months before you moved to Taipei. I am also a foreigner (from Australia), but without the blonde hair... I have enjoyed living here in Taichung. I haven't lived in Taipei, but I've been there more than you've probably been to Taichung, and I must say that Taichung is just as great a city as Taipei but it's just different.

I can understand how you feel about Fenghjia Night market (I feel just as strongly as you about protecting my wife, etc), but it isn't the norm... Most of Taichung isn't anywhere near as crazy as that. In fact, any Taiwanese will tell you that everywhere (especially attractions) is crowded and busy on weekends and public holidays. As you state in you latest post, Taiwan's busy working population don't get much time to 'get out'. So, of course, when they do it happens to be at the same time as every other person.

Taichung has no subway (MRT) yet, which is annoying, but hey- most cities in the world don't! It'll come in time... (And train lines take time, especially in a high population density country like Taiwan.)
Anyway, the best way to get around in Taiwan is a scooter - everyone knows that! ;) (And Taichung is a much nicer city to ride a scooter in than in Taipei...!) Sure an MRT is convenient, but scooters are even more convenient. :D
(That's why Taiwan has the highest number of scooters per person in the world... Taiwan loves convenience!!!)

On a side note, I wonder if your short stop in Taichung coincided with some homesickness (or even feeling overwhelmed with TW culture?) on your part. It creeps up on you and affects us all, no matter how much we love and feel a part of the culture...

So I encourage you not to 'write off' Taichung just yet... First give it a chance... and then 'write it off' if you want! :)

Phil

@Phil: Hey there and thanks for the long comment :) I've no problem, if people disagree with me. Let me reply to you:

The thing is, we see Taichung with different eyes, because we're different characters with different background and different story why we came to Taiwan. I think, if my wife was from Taichung, I might like it more. If I had a job there, maybe I'd see more interesting spots and see the city with different eyes. But I'm really a big fan of subways and I hate scooters. I would not ride them, unless it's really the last thing available. So for me Taichung is very inconvenient, even if there's no traffic jam. I been there twice last year, visiting my friend and she drove me around. If you have a car there, it's not bad. But it's like an American city. Coming from a country like Slovenia, we always have an old medieval central part. Of course I don't apply the same standard in Taiwan, but in Taipei you have the Longshan area, Dihua street, Ximending and Zhongzheng (an a train ride away from Danshui and Sanxia). Taiwan is full of old interesting areas, there's so much to discover by MRT and foot. I like that a lot. But Taichung for me it's just a huge generic Taiwanese city, similar to Taoyuan City, for example. Long neverending roads, but no real center. Maybe I don't know where the real center of Taichung is, but even my friend couldn't tell me. Maybe the area around the Old Train Station, that part is nice. And the park with the lake and Japanese pavilion. The rest looks all same to me. Of course you can say it's not and I know you have a good, because I don't know the city the way you do. It's not like I've given up on Taichung, I will visit often in the future and maybe I'll see some good places. But if I don't meet anyone there, I don't really feel excited. Actually I have a very complex understanding of which city or town I like. Sometimes it's hard to say, it's just a gut feeling.

Not sure, if you have read my old posts about Taichung, but you can check them here. I had some good times as well there, but I still like Taipei, Tainan and Kaohsiung more.

As for the home sickness issue, that was not the case for me in Taichung that day, it was pure fear, because it was crazy. I've seen crowds in Taipei, but that evening at Fengjia was really something else. We were tired, traffic jam was amazing and the crowds pushed and nearly crushed us.. It's hard not to get affected by something like this.

Anyway, thanks for commenting. Hope you do so more often :)

Taichung is made for driving cars. I drive around with my family and it's extremely convenient due to the road system and cheap easy parking. Taichung has some great things about it (lived here 3 years, lived in Taipei for 10 years). Having a car allows me to travel all over the island conveniently.

Good things about Taichung
- It's much quieter and less crowded than Taipei, less people jamming up the streets
- Weather is glorious most of the year, doesn't get damp here
- More parks than Taipei
- Much cheaper than Taipei for rent, half price, brand new apartments, lots of space. SPACE!
- No traffic jams except for weekend on taichung gang lu
- Awesome coffeeshops and teashops
- Some newly developed areas are well laid out, decent pavements and parks

Bad things about Taichung
- Air pollution (same in Tainan/Kaoshiung..most of West Coast)
- Chinese food not as good as Taipei
- Less Western restaurants and less foreign stuff (but again Taipei or other places are not amazing in that department either)
- Double parking is a problem due to non enforcement of traffic laws
- Does not have so many nice places in surrounding region like yangmingshan or wulai.

I like Taipei for some things, but it has some significant drawbacks , especially in terms of cost and affordability for renting a place and driving a car.










@Anonymous: Thanks for sharing.

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