My wife negotiates with a Night Market candy dealer

Night Markets like the one pictured above are a slowly vanishing form of entertainment for the working class. My Taiwan website has a collection of pictures of night markets from around the island, if you want to see more.
Two or three Saturday nights a month my wife and I take the kids to the night market near our house. It is a very small night market and resolutely working class. This kind of market is vanishing breed, however.

As Taiwan becomes more affluent, the night markets have started to bifurcate in response. The new middle class has, like all middle classes, developed upper class tastes and so disdains the traditional night markets as dirty and uncontrolled. The result has been a slow evolution toward night markets like this one in Keelung. Once a traditional night market with a pleasing anarchy of stands and sellers, it has become a lifeless touristy dump of identical storefronts where people show up in decent clothing (gasp!). Fortunately beyond the precincts of the government-mandated cookie cutter sameness the Stainless Steel Rats still hawk their wares in the traditional manner, from stalls with haphazard wooden tables piled high with second rate goods sold at inflated prices.

At the same time the traditional night markets like ours still survive, but only barely. Large parking lots suitable for night markets are steadily being gobbled up by the insane pace of development, turned into hideous apartment buildings or cookie cutter housing estates. Their low rents mean low revenues, while as the picture below shows, many of their wares are illegal and sooner or later will be the subject of crackdowns.

What kind of razors are these? Look closely; the eye can deceive.

Night markets have always been a unique aspect of local culture. When they are gone, I’ll miss them greatly.