The drive from Shifen to Wufenpu Wholesale Garment District (五分埔) took slightly over an hour. We dozed off with the cool breeze along the way.:P While driving us there, our driver told us that we would be able to grab a lot of cheap clothing at Wufenpu, & jokingly asked us if we still have enough luggage space to bring all the “loot” back or not.
When we finally arrived, I thought the wholesale garment district looked pretty quiet, very different from the bustling scene that I was expecting to see.
The whole district is pretty much like the other wholesale centres you see in Hong Kong (Lai Chi Kok) or Seoul (Dongdaemun) – numerous rows of little shops selling local designer clothing, with no elaborate shopfront or interiors to entice customers, except with what they sell. After browsing a few rows of shops, I must say I was quite disappointed at the variety & pricing of the clothing at Wufenpu. Personally, I thought Shida Night Market boasts better quality & price for fashionable clothes, compared to Wufenpu, which is quite contradicting that a wholesale district is less price competitive. The good buys at Wufenpu usually were limited to the 1 or 2 racks placed in front of the shops selling off-season or lower-quality clothing at NTD100-200 per piece.
Being the last destination left on our itinerary to shop for clothes, although the clothes here pale in comparison to Shida Night Market, I was “determined” to hunt down some worthy buys (宁可杀错不可放过嘛! :P) & luckily, I managed to find for myself 4 items as well as a necklace & a belt, all reasonably priced, after shopping for 1.5 hours. One thing I realised though, the trend these days is to wear really short dresses? It wasn’t easy finding dresses that I like yet not too short. -_-“
Another thing I learnt about Wufenpu from 1 of the shops I patronised, was shops typically open from 11am till late (or when no customers are in sight), so it is usually more crowded in the early afternoon. That’s why when we reach there in the evening it was quiet. At such times shop assistants would be more willing to slash their prices if you try to bargain with them (which was what I did hehe).
Anyhow it was dinner time & we decided to proceed to the nearby Raohe Street Night Market (饶河街观光夜市) for some good food! This night market is 1 of the oldest night markets in Songshan District, Taipei, located on Raohe Street (饶河街) near Songshan Station (松山火车站). The Ciyou Temple (松山慈祐宮) nearby was a distinctive landmark that directed us to the night market, about 15 min walk from Wufenpu. 🙂
Upon entering the night market, we saw the long snaking queue for the famous pepper buns at Fuzhou Shizu Hu Jiao Bing stall (福州世祖胡椒饼). Despite the long queue, we joined in to get a bite of this famous bun to see what is so good about it.
It was a good 30 min before we could get our hands on the bun. While waiting for our turn, I also observed how the bun was being prepared & cooked. There were many staff working hard on preparing the buns, all hand made & filled with generous amounts of meat. Thereafter they were stuffed with a lot of chopped spring onions, before being wrapped up & sprinkled with sesame seeds & lowered into the charcoal oven. I thought to myself how my mouth would stink after eating so much spring onions in the bun! Unfortunately we couldn’t make special request to have “spring-onion-less” buns. 😛
I believe this was the first time I ever put so much spring onions into my mouth lol. Surprisingly they didn’t leave an unpleasant aftertaste in my mouth. In fact I kind of enjoyed the piping hot charcoal-baked bun which was very fragrant & tasty. Only bad thing was after finishing the bun, my lips felt so greasy, expected since I saw them brushing a lot of oil over the buns before baking. This pepper bun stall is available at Shilin Night Market as well, but we didn’t try it there so not sure about the standard, but if Raohe is not in your plan, you can give the pepper bun a try at Shilin. 🙂
Just eating 1 bun each made us very full so we just walked along the street & browsed quickly the interesting stalls & shops along the way. There are several food stalls along the way (大牌档), selling all kinds of local delights such as smelly tofu, oyster omelette, seafood etc, as well as some cafes selling western food. The food stalls with seats provided were busy with many customers while most other stalls where one has to take away food saw very few customers.
The night market isn’t very big, just 600m long, so within 20 min (of course without stopping to buy anything), we could already turn back & browse the stalls on the other side of the street. Finally, along this side of the street, I found something that I wanted to try:
金传鸡腿卷 stall sells grilled sausages that smell good from afar. Why did I pick this stall? There were a few customers in the queue for this snack, & on the stall, posters of TV host recommending this stall were displayed, so I had a bit more confidence & interest to try it out hehe. 1 stick of chicken or beef sausage costs NTD35, while 3 sticks cost NTD100, hence I ordered 2 chicken sticks & 1 beef stick to share with my friend.
We didn’t eat the sausages immediately but only had them back at our hotel more than 1 hour later. Nonetheless they still were delicious, just not hot anymore. The chicken sticks were tastier than the beef stick. I don’t mind eating them again next time!
After visiting so many night markets over the 1 week in Taipei, I won’t say Wufenpu & Raohe Street Night Market are must-visit destinations, though there are some good food at the night market. Visit if you have time, since they are not exactly near to the main tourist belt such as Ximending or Taipei Main Station, but do plan them in the same day as they are near to each other.
NB: In case you are wondering how to get to Wufenpu by public transport, the nearest MRT Station (blue line, same as Ximen Station) is Houshanpi (后山埤). You can leave the station by Exit 1 (Wufenpu Commercial Zone) & walk north along Jhongpo N. Rd. to the intersection of Zhongpo N. Road (中坡北路) & Yongji Road (永吉路). Wufenpu is on the left and front.
From Wufenpu to Raohe Street Night Market, look out for the Ciyou Temple or Songshan railway station(松山火車站) & walk towards that direction. You will see the night market after crossing Ba-de Road Section 4(八德路四段).