Zhōng Zhèng Tái Yè Shì (中正台夜市) , Hsinchu, Taiwan

Shopping has never been in my top 10 or even top 100 things to do.  The only time I enjoy walking around and looking at things for sale is in the food department of a supermarket or nightmarket – it satisfies my internal piggy.  Other than that, I try to avoid malls like the plague.

This behaviour, of course, has to be modified when the lone male is snared by a female.  In order to keep the peace, occasional concessions must be made.  So, merchandise stores and I have been seeing more of each other than we like.

On one such occasion, After I’d mentally prepared myself for a wallet hurting excursion, and resigned myself to the pain of the aftermath, I got a nice little surprise.  She took me to Zhōng Zhèng Tái, a merchandise market, which I can only describe as a REALLY asian shopping area.

Located in the heart of Hsinchu – quite close to the train station, Zhōng Zhèng Tái is a rat’s warren of clothes, cosmetics, accessories, shoes and all sorts of trinkets.  Forget the SOGOs and RT marts, this place was highly reminiscent of the shopping areas portrayed in 1980’s Hong Kong movies.  Tiny little closet sized shops overflowing with all sorts of junk.  The merchandise was so tightly packed, it’s a wonder that anyone could find anything in the store – must require some super shopping sense that I lack.

It had character, I tell you!  Loads and loads of character!

I forgot my boredom at shoppping because I was entranced by being in an area I’d only seen in movies.  The walkway for shoppers was a narrow corridor (barely able to fit 2 people shoulder to shoulder):

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As you can see, merchandise surrounded you on all sides as you walked down the aisle.  Besides the thousands of clothing items, there were stationary supplies, school supplies, travel luggage and a slew of other things.

There are a few signs inside the stores, but no centralized map, or guide of this area, so I doubt there would be a way to find what you want, get it and get out.  You’d have to navigate through the whole area looking at each store to find what you’re looking for.

The prices were definitely lower than the big department stores, and the clothes looked ok.  Obviously you wouldn’t find any Prada or Armani here, but for the budget shopper, the merchandise seemed to be acceptable.  Here’s a look at some of the clothes:

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shoes (plastic wrapped):

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and other stuff:

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Zhōng Zhèng Tái’s goods covered all styles from frugal grandma to hip teeny bopper.  Some of the “cooler” stores had dance music blaring from speakers to attract the loud and fashionable.  I also saw kid’s toys, kitchen supplies, some electronic gadgets and home cleaning supplies – this place was an all stop shopping place jammed into an area the size of  my pinky.  Well, not that small, but you get the idea.

It’s interesting to note that as you enter Zhōng Zhèng Tái, you see a little shrine on your right:

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I’m not sure which god this is to, but I’d imagine it’s there for my myriad male counterparts who need to pray for courage before entering this maze of shopping excess!

So guys, if you want to score some points, and also not be totally bored by your average shopping mall, take your lady for a trip here.

The entrance to Zhōng Zhèng Tái looks like this:

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and it’s near the corner of Fuxing and Wenchang St. in Hsinchu:

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