Monday, 13 May 2013

Rainy Day at Jianguo Holiday Market

I was going to tell you about our trip to Taroko Gorge this week, but it went less well than expected, so I'll save that story for another day -- when the PTSD wears off a little.

I thought instead I'd write another episode in my Rainy Day in Taipei series, as one can't have too many things to do on rainy days here.

Jianguo Road hosts a flyover that shortcuts Taipei traffic, and during the week the area below the flyover is used for parking cars and other mundane activities, but at the weekend and on public holidays it's converted into a huge market. Garden plants and jade are the main goods for sale, supplemented by coral, other artworks, garden plants and fruit.

At two minutes' walk from Da'An Station on the brown Wenhu line, it's dangerously convenient for a certain gardening enthusiast with one small balcony. On this visit I managed to restrain myself to a French lavender plant, a ceramic pot for my large, constantly overbalancing orchid, one dried-flower coaster and an annoying whistle for the boy. Just wandering amongst all the plants was pleasure enough on a rainy afternoon.

Possibly even more interesting than looking at the plants is people watching in places like this. I was fascinated by a trio of monks who were closely inspecting the offerings in the Jade Market. The senior monk of the three was obvious not only from his headgear but also his manner, which was imperious and haughty. All in his vicinity were appropriately cowed.

I don't know what that is on his head, but kudos to him for keeping it balanced. There was nothing attaching it to him. Glue maybe? I couldn't understand why monks would be buying jade, either.

The jewellery and ornament selection was huge and diverse. Although the place was quite full, I got the impression from the stallholders that, to them, it was comparatively quiet and business was slow.

The flower section was larger and more popular. Ranks of orchids, bonsai, bougainvillea, gardenia, hibiscus, peace lilies, cacti, succulents, and so on, filled the place with colour and scent. Niche markets were catered for as well, such as a couple of stalls selling Mediterranean herbs and others with unusual water plants. Ferns were surprisingly thin on the ground, given Taiwan's ideal climate and many endemic species, but perhaps they're too common to hold much attraction.

One of the more unusual orchids.

Bulbs, seeds, gardening tools and garden ornaments were also for sale. 

My visit took up an entire wet Sunday afternoon. With sore feet and my neck aching from too much craning, I headed home. I doubt I'll resist the temptation to return to Jianguo Holiday Market for long. 

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