Apparently, one of the musts of traveling to Taiwan is a trip to the Taiwanese Night Market. We made visits to two of Taipei's most popular night markets, Shilin Market and Rao Her Market. Night Market is very similar in feel to Namdaemun market, with all the stalls of street food and inexpensive clothing and trinkets. In terms of trendy fashion, you can't beat Seoul's Dongdaemun, but the Night Market is nonetheless fun with all the interesting smells, sights, and sounds. I thought that Night Markets ran all night-long, hence the name, but the markets we visited closed up around 11 pm or 12 am. I believe that there are certain Night Markets that stay open until the early morning hours, but we didn't visit any of those.
I must also note that the Taiwanese vendors are more open to bargaining. Perhaps this just shows how bad at bargaining I am, but in Korea, only after much wheedling will the salesperson magnanimously award me with a measly 1000 won discount. In contrast, the Taiwanese vendors seemed quick to negotiate and slash their prices. Whenever I get a discount from a Korean vendor, I always walk away feeling a little resentful because the salespeople make me feel as if their children will have to eat ramyun for the rest of their life all because they gave me a 500 won discount. Whereas in Taiwan, I felt very proud myself when I was able to get several dollars knocked off. I felt really smart at that moment (I know that in actuality I'm just a foolish little tourist with "sucker" written all across my face). My tip to vendors is to significantly mark up your merchandise, then when some fresh-faced foreigner comes along, allow them to engage in some hard core bargaining. Once you come to a more palatable price,
the customer will walk away feeling very pleased with herself, as if she won a great prize. Seriously, I fall for it all the time.
This is the entrance to Rao Her market in Songshan. It was very Las Vegas (the entrance, not the market).
The highlight of our Night Market experience, besides all the successful bargaining, was the full-facial threading. We used to get our eyebrows and upper-lip threaded back in the Homeland (Shout out to Deepa), but have not had the opportunity since moving to the Motherland. We were quite pleased to hear that threading would only cost us around 8USD, but we were taken off guard when we found out that $8 would get your whole face threaded!
After coating your face in baby powder, the threading professional will then attack your face with a simple piece of thread. I'm not going to lie. Threading hurts. The pinching from the string is bearable, but VERY uncomfortable, especially the cheek area.
I had my face threaded by a young twenty-something guy. I think he was some sort of trainee, because when it came time to shape my eyebrows, he sent me to an older gentleman. Based on the fact that this older man's face was plastered on a bunch of posters, I think he may have been the founder of this whole setup. If the website ever gets to working, you can find more info at teacherchi.com
We were instructed to refrain from washing our face for 24 hours. We were allowed to use baby wipes and apply sunscreen, lotion, and makeup, but we could not wet our face with water. Go figure. It was quite inconvenient, especially since we had the glamour shots the next day. Imagine taking all that makeup off with a baby wipe.
So, you're probably thinking. Dang! Do Asian women have that much facial hair to require such extensive threading? Apparently, threading is not just about hair removal. If I am able to understand the following sign, hair removal is not the primary aim. Threading can also clear out your pores, stimulate your metabolism, and change your destiny. Pretty lofty goals for such a humble piece of string.
ADVANTAGE OF WAN-LIEN
1) Easy to absorb other cosmetic articles.
2) Are to make-up and next to the face.
3) Don't easy to grow pimples.
4) Show highlight and fair on your face.
5) Beginning of destiny and change destiny.
6) Remove acne. Face lifting.
7) Clean the dirt of pore.
8) Stimulate facial nerve and metabolism.
9) Remove skin-dulling.
10) Remove facial hair...
As interesting as it was to get our entire face threaded, I would not do this procedure again. First of all, it was very uncomfortable. Secondly, I still saw a lot of unwanted hair on my face. Thirdly, rather than removing acne, I think the thread merely aggravated existing pimples.
Cyndi, on the other hand, would do the threading again. She says that her face felt cleaner. Her only word of caution is that the thread may open up any old cuts on your face. The thread opened up an old battle would from Piggy.
Based on the intrigued expressions of many locals passing by the stand, threading is not an established Taiwanese custom. In fact, my Taiwanese classmate had once told me that facial hair on the upper lip area and arms were considered signs of beauty. I was surprised to see so many Taiwanese women getting their beauty threaded off. Times are changin'.
Cyndi and I had our faces threaded at Rao Her Night Market, while J.IM had her face threaded at the Longshan Undergroud Market. Check out the video to catch a glimpse of this new-fangled threading technology (Just kidding. Threading has been utilized for centuries by hairy women across Asia).