Friday, November 4, 2011

dome of light, love river, liuhe night market

The first stop after Lotus Lake was to go to Ikea to buy myself some shower curtains. I've been wanting to change mine since I first moved in and noticed the disgusting condition the shower curtains were in. All the little mom and pop shops sold these tacky shower curtains with giant frogs, sharks or flowers all over them for a couple hundred NT. Doing some research online I discovered Ikea exists in Taiwan and they had plain shower curtains that didn't cost an arm and a leg. Thank you Sweden! We panicked for a moment when we left the Shihija MRT Station and didn't see it immediately across from us like how Google Maps had it depicted. We were about to ask a police officer at the corner when upon reaching the corner we saw that the gigantic school on our left was blocking it from our view. Schools in Taiwan are enormous!

the setting sun
As we walked to Ikea I saw the sun setting. I have never seen such a clear image of the sun. It was pretty amazing to see. Next to the Ikea was a Carrefour. I was pretty excited because a lot of Taiwan blogs mention Carrefour and how it's a super cheap place to buy stuff. When I went in I was pretty underwhelmed. The things like clothes and such were all tacky and cheapish looking and it felt like a Chinese version of a Ross. Nonetheless I'm sure the prices were cheap but wasn't feasible for me to lug all that stuff back home so didn't buy anything. Now moving on to some amazing artwork...

The Dome of Light was created by Italian artist Narcissus Quagliata and is the world's largest stained glass installation. The dome is divided into four sections: water, earth, light, and fire and is found in the Formosa Boulevard MRT Station. Kaohsiung's Mass Rapid Transit System (KMRT) is relatively new and isn't as extensive as the one found in Taipei. The Formosa Boulevard Station is the transfer point between the only two lines of the KMRT. When we first stopped here to take a look at the dome, there was a big dance battle/performance happening right underneath the dome.

dome of light
The dome was pretty amazing and I kept taking pictures of it. All the colors were so bright and stunning. I loved how the four different sections came together. Next we headed to the Yancheng District because on our map, next to the section of Yancheng, was a picture of shaved snow and my sister wanted to see if she could find some there. Yancheng district was one of the earliest developed areas in Kaohsiung and we were looking forward to seeing the old area and the Thieves' Market. Apparently in the 1950s and 1960s, Fuye Road in Yancheng was the center for the trading of stolen goods and the low prices would attract a lot of people. Of course that no longer existed but I wanted to be able to look at the old architecture and see the different shops. When we exited the Yanchengpu MRT station we didn't see any obvious signs and it was getting super dark. We walked around trying to find the different markets but couldn't figure out where everything was. Our map wasn't super detailed and we didn't find a brochure for this area until later at a different location. Whoever is distributing these brochures need to either have the same ones at every tourist information booth or have the relevant ones near the area of interest. Why I found brochures for this place all the way up at Kaohsiung Main Station instead of at the Yanchengpu Station boggles my mind. Anyways all I remember seeing was that there was a whole streets full of girl accessories and streets with store after store selling jewelry, I later learned from the pamphlet that these streets are Yancheng and Gold Street, respectively. In the dark we didn't understand why Yancheng was such a popular place and talked about in our map. I'm guessing you have to go when the sun is still up to fully enjoy this area like most places in Taiwan besides the night markets. People say that Taiwan is open late but really that only applies to the night markets, 7-11 and McDonalds. Stores start closing around 8-9pm which is later than the stores in Chinatown in San Francisco but not really later than any stores or shops in America.

From Yancheng, we followed a sign till we reached the Love River. No clue why it's named the Love River maybe because a lot of lovers come here since it has such a romantic atmosphere.

love river
According to my wiki searches, the Love River use to be heavily polluted with raw sewage and untreated industrial water waste. In order to clean up the river they installed some floodgates that would capture trash and sewage and have it diverted to a treatment plant. However this system only works from October to April because during the rainy season, May to September, the treatment center cannot handle the increased flow and so the floodgate must be opened, allowing pollution and trash to enter the Love River. Good thing we went to see it in October. How unromantic would it be to go to the Love River and see trash everywhere and then smell sewage? Mood killer for sure. People can also take boat rides on the river and enjoy the scenery from there.

After the early lunch I had at McDonald's, I hadn't eaten anything since and so we were starving by the time we walked to Liuhe Night Market which is accessible from the Formosa Boulevard Station. Liuhe Night Market is the most popular night market in Kaohsiung and is promoted as the tourist's night market. I definitely saw how it stood out from other night markets in that it had big trash cans every couple of feet and that there were tables and chairs for people to sit all. The first stop we made was at this stall selling papaya milk which has been in a lot of blog posts and also been visited by a lot of celebrities. The most notable being the President of Taiwan himself!

presidential props
papaya milk stall
the famous papaya milk
They sell other drinks of course but their most popular is definitely papya milk. There was a crazy line for this place and a lot of people were crowded around this stall. I waited in line for a couple of minutes and once I reach the saleslady it took her a second to confirm my order before she passed me a freshly sealed take away cup of papaya milk. They sell it so much that all the workers in the back are just cranking the papaya milks regardless of what people are ordering. The papaya milk was interesting and tasted like papaya. The milk made the drink smoother than if I was drinking papaya juice but if you're not a fan of papaya, like my sister, you wouldn't be all that thrilled by this drink. It was nice to be able to try something new but I probably wouldn't buy it again, I much prefer pearl milk tea. Since Kaohsiung is a major port and is well known for having really good seafood. After the disappointing experience with seafood in Taiwan I was looking forward to changing it. My sister and I were on the hunt for some yummy seafood that wasn't just squid and octopus. A lot of the stalls that had noodles and such didn't have clams or shrimp. So to get my shrimp fix I bought this.

grilled salted shrimp
The shrimps are skewered and cooked alive! While standing at this stall, we saw the shrimps twitching and one by one slowly stop all movement. I wonder if it was worse for the shrimps to see their fate in their shrimp pals lying dead next to them. My sister bought a plate of steam shrimp that came with some soy sauce that was flavored with vinegar or something. It wasn't anything special. The shrimp I bought had a delicious coating of salt on the outside but the inside didn't have any flavoring. My shrimps cost $100+ NT. 

I saw on a blog that at the Liuhe Night Market there was a stall that sold ice cream peanut popiah. Popiah is a Fujian/Chaozhou-style fresh spring roll.

ice cream peanut popiah or hua shen bing
The peanut is in a big brick and is basically shaved off with that wooden piece and produces crystallized peanut shavings that is placed on a wrap with ice cream and cilantro. I believe the ice cream flavors are vanilla and taro. Can't tell you how it tastes like because of the peanuts but my sister said it was interesting and wasn't bad but wouldn't go out of her way to buy it. This cost $40 NT.

I was super interested in this stall because it had a super long line for it and also because it had a whole bunch of meat skewers being cooked at the same time. Reminded me of one of the farmer markets stalls back at UCSD.

smoking and cooking
I bought one and it was super ginormous. The chicken piece that I got was as long as my face. Since the only pics I have of it are in front of my face at unflattering angles none will be shown here...

The stall right next to me also interested me in the way they made their baos...

bao making process
The raised bowl thing is the top of what I'm assuming is the oven. The cook grabs each uncooked bun and reaches down into the oven and it looks he sticks it to the side of the oven to cook these baos. Pretty interesting way to cook them and so decided to try one. The bao was filled with potato and cheese I believe. It's been so long I can't remember!! Need to write it down or blog it before I forget...
To top it all off more shaved snow! Finally got to satisfy my sister's craving.

milk shaved snow with mango, condensed milk and sprinkles
The shaved snow melted really fast! My sister did not like the sprinkles. Condensed really helps make this dish sweeter. Well this post finally finished covering what we did our FIRST day of Kaohsiung. More to come...

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