This is the fifth post in my People of the Night Photo Project that I'll be working on over the next few months. The point is to take street-style portraits at a night market and explain a little bit about what they do. This is going to be my last entry introducing the vendors from the Zhongli Night Market. I'm going to take a break for a few days after this post in order to post a couple of other blogs, then I will be moving on to post about the Rao-He Night Market (饒河夜市) in Taipei.
1. The Night Market Beautician (夜市美容師)
The Night Market seems like a weird place to get a manicure, but that doesn't stop people from doing it. In this shot we have a Taiwanese woman getting a manicure while the beautician's husband looks on. I can't really attest to the quality or the price of a night market beautician, but I'm guessing it is likely quite a bit cheaper than you would see elsewhere. What I am sure of though is that there is no other place where you can get a manicure and eat some stinky tofu at the same time! Multi-tasking! Yeah!
2. The Aboriginal Chef (原住民廚師)
Taiwan has 14 recognized Aboriginal tribes (and 11 more that are yet to be recognized by the government) who are of Austronesian origin and have inhabited this land for thousands of years more than the ethnic-Chinese. Their cuisines differ quite a bit from traditional Taiwanese fare and I'm not shy to say that while I love Taiwanese/Chinese food - Taiwanese Aboriginal food is often the best culinary experience you can have here. The Aboriginals of Taiwan are masters when it comes to the grill, especially when it comes to wild boar. In this shot we have an Aboriginal man cooking wild boar on a stone pan. You can buy a version that is fried up with garlic, onions and leeks and served hot in a box or have that mixture served in a fresh hot-dog like bun. No matter what you order, it will be awesome.
3. Pinball Boss (彈鋼珠遊戲老闆)
There are all sorts of games that you can play at the night market. All the games are a form of gambling, but most are innocent in nature and fun for kids to play. In this shot some people are playing pinball while the boss watches. The point of the game is to get your pinballs to land in certain areas and however well you do, you will get a prize to reflect that. The prizes aren't usually anything special, they're mostly just candy for children or a can of coke, etc. The point is that it is a fun activity for kids.
4. Fried Rice Noodles Boss (炒米粉老闆）
The Zhongli night market is most well known for its fried rice-noodles. There are several stalls selling inexpensive bowls of these thin and tasty noodles and as far as I can tell, this stall is the most popular. If you order a bowl of noodles or even a box for take out, they're always steaming hot and a somewhat healthier alternative to all the deep fried snacks you can find at the night market.
5. Stinky Tofu (簡師傅麻辣臭豆腐)
Stinky Tofu is a mainstay of the night markets in Taiwan. It comes in many different varieties and despite many foreigners apprehension in trying it, I love it. This particular company (簡師傅麻辣臭豆腐) has had such great business that they had to open their own restaurant (which is still at the night market, but not on the street like most vendors.) A year or two ago before they opened up the store, there was just this stall, and the lines were long to say the least. Now the stall isn't as busy as you can only order take out and that helps out a lot with traffic congestion. If you like spicy food, this is the place to go. Although I'd caution against ordering anything above mild spiciness..
As I mentioned earlier, I'm going to make a couple of other non-night market posts and then I'll start posting shots from Taipei's popular Rao-He Night Market (饒河夜市) starting next week. I've already finished shooting all the night market and I'm currently working on getting shots from Taipei's Ning-Xia Night Market (寧夏夜市) and Taoyuan's new Hsing-Ren Night Market (興仁花園夜市.)
The following is a slideshow of the collection of the shots I used in this series from the Zhongli Night Market with some additional shots that I didn't post.
I hope you've enjoyed this series thus far! There's more to come! If you have any questions or comments feel free to get in touch with me in the comment section below!