Sunday, July 31, 2011

Shilin Night Market (士林夜市) and the kickoff to Ghost Month!

Last night Boje and I joined some colleagues at Shilin Night Market (just across the road from Jiantan MRT station) and then for drinks at a pub called the Brass Monkey. Shilin was absolutely packed with people, though this was unsurprising as weekends are always a little crazier at night markets. It’s apparently the biggest night market in Taipei, and we barely scratched the surface. It was tough to find a food stall in the section we’d entered, but we took the edge off our hunger with some nai cha (milk tea). We were lucky that one of the guys with us grew up speaking Mandarin and paying visits to his relatives in Taiwan. Because of this, he was really familiar with night market fare and helped us out by ordering some delicious beef noodle soup which I slopped all over myself immediately. (Sorry, casual pants. You will be stained forever... or at least until I throw you out when I return to Canada and can afford to buy a new pair.) The Brass Monkey afterwards was pretty fun too! It was nice to have a last hurrah before the beginning of training... I suspect I will be early to bed for the rest of the week!

Today we met up with Jenny’s lifelong friend and her husband for a chat at a lovely tea house called Chun Shui Tang. They are a popular chain and the originator of Taiwan’s famous pearl milk tea (or bubble tea as we call it in North America!) I had a cold tie kuan yin tea (a delicious Chinese leaf) and Brett had a matcha milk tea with honey red bean paste and cookies balanced in the foam. Dessert and tea all in one! We also drank pots and pots of jin shuan, a delicious Chinese tea that smells like milky butter. Mmmm.

Over tea, our friends told us all about ghost month which started today. It was an interesting follow-up to a conversation we’d had with Milton and Jenny shortly before we left Kaohsiung. Apparently the entire seventh lunar month is when ghosts are very active. The first day of the lunar month (today) is when the gates of hell open and ghosts are released into the world of the living. All month, families and businesses burn ghost money and leave offerings to appease/support their ancestors and other spirits. Jenny also “warned” us that during ghost month you shouldn’t stay out late and should avoid water. Ghosts of people who drowned are known to pull swimmers down into the water to die so the ghost can take the living person’s place! Eep!

After our lovely visit with our new friends, we washed our clothes at a nearby coin laundromat which was a relief, and afterwards we had a very enjoyable dim sum dinner. I tried suckling pig for the first time - delicious. This weekend has been very satisfying, and I’m looking forward to the start of training tomorrow!

1 comment:

  1. There's another custom of Ghost month!
    We will avoid hanging clothes overnight (of course except those in wardrobe), especially outdoors, like at balcony.