Taiwan Fun Magazine, January 2006

Weekend Flower and Jade Market

--By Tracy Perkins Translated by Ann Li

Taipei sometimes gives the feeling of a place of endless grey. For those who are limited to the confines of the city, the need for beauty can be a constant ache of the soul.

Just when you think you can't survive the sight of another dirty, tiled building with rusty cages around the balconies, where stained y-fronts and singlets on hangers sway in the breeze, you discover, in the heart of the city, an Asian wonderland that delivers on your pre-arrival fantasies- the Weekend Flower and Jade Market!

Both are on JianGuo South Road. The Jade Market stretches from RenAi Road almost to ZhongXiao East Road and the Flower Market from XinYi Road to RenAi Road.
It's hard to know which end to begin at. One is an earthly paradise, an Aladdin's cave that spills over with the opulence of pearls and precious stones taken from the heart of the earth. In the other, you drift along on a cloud of scent between lanes of bonsai trees, banks of flowers and orchids so lovely they simply take your breath away.

This is beauty to take home and keep. A string of pearls you'll love for life goes for as little as NT$1000, while a delicate potted orchid costs only NT$100. The little white one I bought six weeks ago still looks lovely. If you shop for flowers that are in season, bunches go for NT$50 to NT$100, so ring the changes as each season comes around. Or take home a Siamese Fighter Fish. These little companions can be had for as little as NT$20 and are easier to keep than you think.

Even if you're completely broke or just aren't the shopping type, it costs nothing to spend an hour or two strolling through and your weary soul is guaranteed a lift.