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An experiential journal of synchronicity and connection

Jingcheng Night Market 精誠夜市

For some inexplicable reason this guy was singing on top of a truck the first time I visited Jingcheng. Never saw anything like it since.

Jīngchéng Night Market 精誠夜市 is perhaps the largest open air night market in Changhua 彰化, Taiwan 台灣. Unlike some of the other big night markets in the area Jingcheng hasn’t been developed for tourism in the slightest. I doubt you’ll find it in any guidebook and there isn’t anything written about it in English that I have been able to find online. And, to be fair, there isn’t anything special about Jingcheng, particularly not if you’ve been to the fantastic open air night markets of Tainan 台南. Still, if you’re a night market connoisseur like me—or merely interested in trying something different—it might be worthwhile to check out, or you can live vicariously through my photos.

The crowds at the western entrance to Jingcheng Night Market on a hot summer night.

My purpose in sharing these photos is to provide a window into local night market culture here in central Taiwan. I have been living in Changhua City 彰化市 for a couple of months and have visited Jingcheng on several occasions. The photos in this post were taken on several different trips over the course of the last year.

Bouncy slides are fairly common at the larger open air night markets in southern Taiwan.
Seeing this sort of thing makes me wish I were a kid again.
This truck at the western edge of the market serves up grilled meat and egg wrapped in a scallion pancake. Recommended!
This is one of my regular indulgences. A tasty snack and friendly service, what’s not to like?
This tiny dashboard shrine in front of a sweet corn vendor caught my eye.

One good thing to say about Jingcheng is that it has plenty of variety in terms of food options—if you’re able to recognize what you’re looking at, anyway. In terms of more substantial sit-down eateries you’ll find oyster omelette (Taiwanese: ô-á-chian 蚵仔煎), hot plate steak (served with a fried egg and spaghetti), various kinds of hot pot, teppanyaki (out of a truck), thick duck soup (yāròugēng 鴨肉羹), luwei and oden (Taiwanese: o-lián 烏輪), several authentic Vietnamese restaurants, and a Mongolian barbecue (which is neither Mongolian nor barbecue—more on that later), among other options.

A popular watermelon juice vendor at the east end of the night market. If I’m in the mood for a refreshing drink I’ll often stop and pick one up from this stall.
This pet shop at the back of the night market will reward you with a bunny or hamster if you win a game.
Adorable bunny rabbits at the pet shop at the back of the night market.
Grilled snacks at Jingcheng Night Market.
Boiling hot blended tea vendor.
Shrimp on the barbie.
Fried chicken is one of the most popular night market snacks in Taiwan.
Teppanyaki out of a truck? Not my first choice.

The snacks would be too numerous to name but to mention a few: purple yam pancakes, Hong Kong-style rice noodle roll, takoyaki, blood cakes (duck or pig, I don’t know), braised sweet corn, sausages (aboriginal style and otherwise), sugar-roasted chestnuts (lìzǐ 栗子, something you must try at least once), fruit (especially guava served with a kind of plum sauce), and every kind of meat and seafood imaginable grilled, fried, braised in brine, or boiled and doused in saltwater.

This artist can regularly be seen at night markets around Changhua. He creates stylized caricatures from cell phone photographs.
Crane games are an ubiquitous feature of night markets in Taiwan. The shipping container is a bit strange.
One of many rides at Jingcheng. I always wonder what it would be like to operate these things for a living.
Old school gaming machines at a crossroads in the night market.
Business at the back of the night market. Apparently they’re signing people up for cell phone contracts?
One of the stranger sights at Jingcheng Night Market: mole reading.
An old school oyster omelette truck near the west end of the market. This couple has probably been doing this for decades.
One of the larger restaurants in the heart of the night market.
Hong Kong style rice noodle roll vendor, one of my favourites.
10 dollars for all sorts of fried food. Seems legit!
This part of Jingcheng Night Market is always crowded on Saturday night.

Desserts range from various kinds of mochi (grilled or cold) to carts serving the usual douhua staples: hot soups with various beans and taro added (one of my favourites). Drinks are similarly diverse, with all manner of tea and fresh fruit juice available in every corner of the market. I recommend the watermelon juice vendor and Gaobei Milk King at the eastern end of the market.

A traditional Taiwanese dessert, made fresh. People have told me these are “cold mochi”, one of many variations on the theme of sweet, sticky rice treats.
Sugar-roasted chestnuts is a Changhua City specialty.
A Mongolian barbecue stall on the edge of the market. It works just more or less like it does in the west: pick whatever you want and pay by the bowl.

Mongolian barbecue deserves a bit of elaboration, particularly as it seems to have recently landed in the west as yet another in a long series of ethnic food trends. Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble but Mongolian barbecue is a homegrown Taiwanese specialty that has absolutely nothing to do with Mongolia (though restaurants in the west will go to some lengths to describe how the horde used to grill big piles of food on their shields while marauding across the steppes). The setup in Taiwan, as in the west, is simple: load up a bowl with whatever you want cooked on the big teppanyaki-style grill.

Night markets are subject to all manner of fads. Last summer these edible potted plants were all the rage.
A little bit of trademark infringement never hurt, did it? Here you can see two kinds of sausage: meat and rice. Often they are sliced up and served together with basil and fresh garlic.
Blood rice, something that might not suit the western palate.

Jingcheng, being an open air night market with room to sprawl, is also home to some things you won’t see in the more or less permanent night markets of northern Taiwan. This, of course, includes a wider range of fairground games, elaborate bouncy castles, and carnival rides for kids of all ages, but also the night market equivalent of dollar stores and auctions, of which there are several. The auctions are hosted by middle-aged men who regale their audience with amusing anecdotes and little jokes while trying to pawn off cheap goods for what are likely inflated prices. It’s hard work by the looks of it. Despite there usually being a crowd of bored onlookers few of them seem to purchase anything.

10 dollar shop in the overflow parking lot to the west. The woman working here usually rattles off prices over a loudspeaker like an auctioneer.
Big night markets like Jingcheng always have a bunch of vendors selling strange or unusual merchandise suitable for impulse purchases. In this case its air fresheners.
A fishing game for children that I regularly see at open air night markets in southern Taiwan. This one uses plastic rather than real fish, thankfully.
Games of chance for the whole family.
Purple yam pancakes make for an interesting snack.
The popular Gaobei Milk King truck can usually be found at the eastern end of the market. Papaya milk is the speciality but I tend to get red or green (mung) bean shakes when I stop here.

Finally, some basic information: Jingcheng Night Market is open on Wednesday and Saturday nights from sundown to about midnight. It is located on the western edge of town along Línsēn Road 林森路. It’s a bit of a hike from the train station but a taxi won’t cost much and you can always hop on a Youbike if need be.

This is what Jingcheng Night Market looks like in the late afternoon. A few vendors have already arrived to setup shop. Hours later hundreds more will join them as the night begins.

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