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'Temporary' Shilin Market a Permanent Hit
Taipei's old market series, Part 2
Max Lin (rtmax)     Print Article 
Published 2006-11-27 15:18 (KST)   
Taipei's most popular bazaar, Shilin Market, is set in a temporary shelter right now -- "temporary" for three years and counting.

The new shelter of Shilin market.
©2006 Max Lin

The Shilin Market, listed in many travel guides list as a must-see, generally refers to a large outdoor and indoor area of a combined 5,710 square meters in Shilin's Xiao Bei Street. It has stores open day and night in different parts, selling different kinds of food, clothing, and pets and providing both folk and high-tech entertainment -- all at cheap prices.

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Everything seems to be OK, except for the market's former dwelling, now a city-designated historic spot. Considering it too small and dilapidated, the city government decided to renovate the house made of wood and red bricks, so the food vendors were moved to a nearby shelter in 2002.

The vision is beautiful for the market, but the reality is not. Promised to be completed in 2005, the project is suspended indefinitely without reasons. Not to mention that the historic relic is as ruined as ever now without proper preservation.

Like many similar marketplaces in Taiwan, Shilin Market was emerged near a temple in the beginning of the 19th century naturally for the location could attracted worshipers.

In 1915, Japanese colonists constructed a little brick house to help the vendors settle down. The building was mainly used as a day market, selling seafood, raw meat, fruit and vegetables, while the food stands expanding in front of the temple served as a night market.

Taipei's population grew constantly after the Second World War, and so did this market. Hundreds of vendors filled some roads in Shilin, so the administration constructed a steel house in 1970s to "temporarily" place the food stalls in, according to the city government.

The situation remained until 2002, when the building was demolished and the vendors, along with the day market sited in the old brick house, were moved to a nearby shelter.

One reason the government want to remodel the area was the 1970's steel building was too small and battered. Of course, the transient house endured nearly 30 years, making it hard to satisfy the customers who liked a clean and comfortable environment.

Those food stalls are among the most popular ones in Taiwan.
©2006 Max Lin

History seems to repeat itself. The vendors were moved to a temporary house and the long-term project was postponed. Now the business is doing all right, some stalls suggest, after a self-governing institute established by the stall owners solved the leaking and draining problem, which occurred not long after the peddler moved in. But the historic brick building is left deserted in the original location, and provisionality appears to last forever.

Related Articles
The Old Markets of Taipei
The Fading Memory of Chung Hwa Bazaar

©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Max Lin

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