Shopping at ASEAN Square
By Courtney Donovan Smith
Translated by Anna Yang
Outside and Central Courtyard
ASEAN Square is usually first experienced from the outside, on its three sides and entrance courtyard/plaza. The three sides are packed with as many products as each shopkeep can cram into the little space available, particularly on the side facing Taiwan Boulevard.
Most shops focus on clothing and accessories, especially bags, hats, sunglasses, lighters, watches, jewelry and swimwear--you name the accessory and you can probably find it here. There are also some restaurants, including Vietnamese and Thai options, in the inner courtyard and a shaved ice spot with some other Taiwanese eateries along JiGuang Street--pretty much the only Taiwanese-food eateries in the complex. Some tailors and tattoo parlors also front the street.
One shop that stands alone in this complex is Hua Shan Toys (華山玩具; 04-2223-2986), located on the JiGuang side of the Square and specializing in very realistic B.B. guns. Another notable retailer is Jason Store, located on the ChengGong Road side of the building and now the largest Southeast Asian grocery shop in the complex. It offers a wide array of goods from the entire region, plus a sizable fresh fruit and vegetables selection, including some items I've never seen in Taiwan before.
Interior First Floor
Like ASEAN Square's outside, the interior first floor is packed to the hilt with accessories, but has a fair number of suit tailors, largely clustered in one of the central rows. Tailored women's clothing is available as well, plus several tattoo parlors, including one fronted with a Nazi flag. In terms of clothing, there is just about every possible style here, from Islamic wear to children's wear to business suits. There are also some mobile phone and consumer electronics options here, but upstairs has a wider selection. One stand-out shop is a custom leather worker (圖騰設計工作室 Totem; 0910-537-542), located right near the entrance off of JiGuang Street and offering everything from simple belts to complicated, creative works of art.
The second floor feels noticeably different from the ground floor, with a much smaller number of vendors that tend to be very large with lots of floor space. Overall, this offers a much more spacious shopping experience. Most of the floor is taken up with clothing, shoe and consumer electronics vendors and some large restaurants, but there is also a barber on this floor.
Interestingly, the third floor sees a return to mostly smaller vendors. For more on the fun row of restaurants and karaoke options, plus the service centers see this month's cover story and nightlife articles. This floor has many mobile phone and accessories shops, plus mobile phone repair services, consumer electronics, sound and musical kits, plus other vendors selling random, miscellaneous items.
Interestingly, it appears that the third floor here may be the offline center for coin, stamp, medallion and banknote collectors, with a whole cluster of these shops located in the corner facing LuChuan West Street and Taiwan Boulevard. Aside from that interesting little world, one interesting vendor occupying two stalls is Mascot Collection Co. Ltd. (尚宇世界精品名刀; 04-2228-1338; www.topmascot.com.tw), which sells a wide variety of "boys' toys"--swords, knives of all types (from Swiss Army knives to daggers), Zippo lighters, military clothing and more.