Luodong 羅東

Luódōng is a small town in central Yilan known for its bustling night market, the largest in the area.

Concrete Dreams in Luodong

Inside an old market in Luodong.

I went wandering through the streets of Luódōng 羅東 on Monday morning after stopping over to catch some rest after Organik, an electronic music festival on the east coast of Taiwan. The previous night’s walkabout was rather tame—and by day Luodong offered no greater thrills.

Just about the only thing that piqued my curiosity was this old market building, a marvel of brutal concrete architecture. Strangely, there were few signs of activity within this building despite the bustling trade on the streets. Perhaps this is nothing more than a storage area for the vendors hawking goods and produce on the busy streets beyond the gate.

Lamb Soup Vendor at Luodong Night Market

Famous lamb soup in Luodong Night Market.

I am on my way back to Tainan City 台南市 from a festival in Hualien, pretty much the opposite side of the island. To break up the trip I am stopping over in Luódōng 羅東, a town in Yilan I haven’t yet had the pleasure of visiting.

This all came about after I met some cool people at the bus stop in Shòufēng 壽豐. They had struck upon an awesome piece of travel hackery to bypass the Sunday afternoon congestion on the railway lines leading back to Taipei: take a train to Yilan county and transfer to an express bus heading over the mountains. I tagged along but opted to grab a cheap hotel in Luodong to check out the night market, which came highly recommended.

After a few hours of rest I stepped out into the cool night and made my way to the market. Alas, most stalls were closed by the time I arrived. I should have known! Luodong night market is for tourists—and tourist night markets don’t stay open as late as night markets that serve local residents.

Even so, one of the more famous stalls was still opened, so I sat down for a warm, heartening bowl of lamb soup, which for some reason I have never noticed nor tried anywhere else in Taiwan. It was pretty good, but I didn’t see any of the other things I went out looking for. I guess this means I’ll have to come back to Luódōng 羅東 sometime! (And I did…)