Dadaocheng Photowalks

A year or two ago I took part in an International Photowalk and photo exhibition to help promote awareness of the plight of the historic Nanjichang Community (南機場) in Taipei.

The event, which took place on two separate occasions saw a group of local as well as expat photographers descend upon the community to take photos to help tell the story of a community that is in danger of disappearing.

The event was organized in conjunction with local community leaders as well as by TC Lin, a well-known Taiwanese street photographer.  The whole event was a learning experience for all involved, especially myself who hadn’t visited the community before the event.

When TC put forth the idea of once again getting us all together to put on an International Photowalk to help promote one of Taipei’s history communities, I clicked the “attend” button without a second thought. This time however, I was coming in much more prepared than the last one because the photowalk was being held in Taipei’s historic Dadaocheng Area, a place that I’ve blogged about quite a few times in the past!

The International Photowalk and the exhibition that will follow was organized as part of the annual Tua-Tiu-Tiann International Festival of Arts (大稻埕國際美術節) which aims to bring together Taipei’s artistic community and have them converge on Dadaocheng for a month of celebrating the revitalization of the area.

The two photowalks that were arranged led us around most popular and well-known areas of Dihua Street (迪化街) but much further down the road into areas that are not as commonly visited by tourists.

Our first photowalk was more of an introduction to the event and a bit of a tour around the area for people who were unfamiliar while the second walk was more of us just walking around, taking cover from torrential downpours, chatting and taking photos.

The photos that will ultimately be used for the exhibition will focus primarily on Street Photography from both local and expat photographers who are submitting photos that will candidly show the people of Dadaocheng going about their lives.

If you don’t know what Street Photography is, my definition goes a little like this: It is a style of photography that requires 'quick-thinking' and 'chance encounters' between a photographer and his or her subjects in candid situations.

Street photography more or less is meant to act as a mirror to society and the photos are meant to evoke a response from the audience as to the different aspects of life that they may or may not be familiar with.

Most highly skilled Street Photographers are able to blend a bit of irony into their photos which offer a deeper meaning to what is happening. For me (a rather unsuccessful street photographer) I tend to focus on aspects of life in Taiwan that the people here are unlikely to notice. As an expat I’m able to look at certain aspects of life in Taiwan through the lens of an outsider which allows me to notice things that locals may take for granted.

Ultimately what is displayed at the photo exhibition will depend on what the photographers who participated submit. The photos don’t necessarily have to be street photography, but they must show aspects of life in Dadaocheng.

Even though I already have a wealth of photos from the area after blogging about the Dihua Street Lunar New Year Market, the historic City God Temple, the historic Dadaocheng Wharf, etc. But decided instead of submitting older photos that I’d only submit photos taken on the photowalks and only provide new work.

The photos I’m posted here today were all taken on the two photowalks and while there might be a bit of 'irony' in some of them, I think they show some aspects of life in Dadaocheng that most tourists miss as they usually only stay on the restored and busiest sections of Dihua Street.

The photowalks were a good time and a lot of friends who I hadn’t seen in a while came out to take part, so even though I didn’t get as many shots as I would have liked, it was still a great time and I’m really looking forward to the exhibition as well as some of the events that will take place during the Festival of Arts.

If you are free during the month of October, make sure to take a look at that event schedule and head over to Dadaocheng to take part in some of the great events that are planned - there will be art exhibitions, dance performances, traditional theatre, live music and of course photography exhibitions.

Website: Tua-Tiu-Tiann International Festival of Arts

The photo exhibition will open on October 1st between 2:30-5:00 at the URS127 galley and the photos will be on display for the entire month.

If you have been looking for the opportunity to find out who I am or just want to meet up with me and kick me in the teeth, I’ll be there on that day - hope to see you there!

Likewise, you are invited to join myself and the other talented photographers who took part on the afternoon of the opening (Oct 1st) for an after party at Dadaocheng’s Le Zinc 洛 Cafe and Bar, which is a short walk from the two exhibition spaces! 

Hope to see you there! 

Gallery / Flickr (High Res Photos)

People of the Night 18 (基隆廟口夜市)

The Keelung Miaokou Tourist Night Market (基隆廟口夜市) is often introduced by Travel guides as a MUST visit on any travellers as the night market is well-known for its diversity of Taiwanese delicacies and being so close to the sea - it's fresh selection of seafood dishes. The night market is jam-packed with Taiwanese and foreigners walking shoulder-to-shoulder every night of the week and it truly is a purely Taiwanese experience that shouldn't be missed while visiting the country. In my first post of shots from the night market I focused on seafood dishes which the night market is the most famous for. Today's post however is all about MEAT, so if you're a vegan, avert your eyes. 

1. Taiwanese Pork Knuckle (豬腳) 

The first shot is of a vendor that sells Taiwanese style pork knuckle. I'm a big fan of this stall and I've sat down quite a few times for some of his pork knuckle rice (豬腳飯). This vendor is extremely busy and there is often a line which doesn't surprise me at all given how tasty his dishes are. You can buy rice dishes or the popular pork knuckle vermicelli (豬腳麵線) which is a favourite among Taiwanese guests. Taiwanese pork knuckle is a lot different than what you'd expect from its German counterpart as it is braised long enough that the meat is extremely tender and full of flavour. If you're in the night market and you see an empty seat at this stall, don't hesitate to grab that seat and feast on some of the excellent dishes he has available! 

2. Taiwanese Bite-Sized Sausage (一口吃香腸) 

A few years ago one of the MUST eats all over Taiwan was these bite-sized sausages. It seemed like every night market in Taiwan had some "Miaokou Bite-Sized Sausages" (廟口一口吃香腸). The craze over these sausages has settled down a lot since then but the original stall still remains and it is one of the most popular stalls in the market. The mini-sausages are prepared en masse and you order however many you want and they serve it to you in a paper bag filled with fresh cloves of garlic. If you've ever had Taiwanese sausage and garlic cloves together you'd probably agree with me that they were basically made for each other. Whenever I visit Miaokou I always buy a small bag full of these goodies and walk away happy. They're juicy and full of flavour! 

3. Spare-Rib Soup (燒排骨羹)

My mom makes a mean pot of sweet and sour spare ribs - a dish that whenever I think about it, I automatically feel like buying a ticket home. Not many things make me miss home as much as my mum’s home cooking. When it comes to spareribs though, Taiwan covers that craving quite well yet in a completely different way and one of my favourite noodle dishes here is steamed sparerib noodles (排骨酥麵).The spare-ribs used in this dish are steamed in what look like little round dim-sum containers. The texture and taste is completely different from what we get at home and the meat just falls off of the bone. The spareribs are placed on top of a tasty bowl of noodles with a clear broth and the soup basically absorbs the flavour of the ribs making it a really tasty dish - especially in the winter! 

4. Night Market Sashimi (生魚飯) 

Sushi is probably my favourite food. People often ask me: "If you love sushi so much, why didn't you move to Japan?" to which I reply: "Because the best sushi is in Taiwan" and that is something that I stand by. Taiwan does Japanese food extremely well and sushi is just one of those things that the Taiwanese have assimilated into their culinary specialities since the Japanese colonial era. The great thing about sushi in Taiwan is that the seafood is always fresh, the quality is much similar to what you'd get in Japan and its a fraction of the price. I'm not particularly a fan of eating sushi in the night market, but this is Keelung and the city is known for its sushi, so why not? The sashimi at this little bar is inexpensive, prepared beautifully and is really fresh. I learned not to discriminate night market sashimi from these guys and if you have an appetite for sashimi while browsing the night market you might want to stop here and give it a try! 

5. Chicken Rolls

Its not common that I say that I don't like something in Taiwan, but I have to say that I'm not a big fan of these chicken rolls. They are long, soggy-looking and come off as extremely unhealthy as they are full of oil. A "chicken roll" (雞卷) is basically chicken meat wrapped in chicken skin (雞皮) or tofu skin (豆皮) with vegetables like asparagus, leeks or carrots inside. They look tasty when they're cooked and cut up, but when you see them sitting there they don't look as appetizing. A year or two ago these things were extremely popular and people were waiting in lines to get them all over the country. The fad it seems has died off but you can still find them in night markets all over the country. What do you think? Have you had one of these? Did you enjoy it? Let me know! 

6. Honey Glazed BBQ (蜜汁烤肉) 

These types of stalls are quite easy to find all over Taiwan. I'm not sure if they're Taiwanese in origin or not (if anyone knows, let me know) but basically they are a form of BBQ with all of the various meats, tofus and tempura being put on a revolving hook while it is roasted. All of the food is brushed with a kind of honey and as it cooks it becomes a bit sweet. When you want to order something from one of these stalls you just grab a bowl, pick up a pair of tongs and put what you want in the bowl and the boss will prepared it all for you and add some spice if you like. These stalls are pretty good for getting a large variety of foods all mixed in together and is quite cheap (yet not very healthy) if you are making it for your dinner. 

That's it for today. I'll be back later this week with the final post from the Miaokou Night Market - If you like what you've seen so far make sure to check out some of the other night markets I've covered below!