Taiwan Fun Magazine, October 2006

FuHe Bridge Flea Market

--By Charles McHale Translated by Cliff Yang

Antique collectors and bargain shoppers come together at flea markets for a kind of shopping that neither night markets nor department stores can provide. The flea market hunter lusts for the unexpected, not really sure of what they're looking for until they find it. Among the piles of second-hand junk are vintage clothing and housewares, valuable antiques, and the uniquely bizarre items one only finds at a flea market. On the riverside in YongHe, the FuHe Bridge Flea Market delivers the thrill of the hunt in shopping.

On Sunday mornings, the FuHe flea market starts at dawn and ends around 1 p.m. Go early for the best selection and later for the bargains. Some say it started under the bridge, almost 50 years ago. As the infrastructure along the river developed, the market moved to a giant parking lot just south of the bridge. It's been there, going strong, for 20 years. And it's not just a flea market! A long roofed area boasts a number of fruit, vegetable and meat vendors. Chen's Restaurant has been satisfying the market's customers since the it moved there 20 years ago. Their specialty is Yao Dun Pai Gu, slow- cooked ribs with medicinal spices (NT$60). There are also shaved ices, soups and noodles.

Flea markets are really about used goods. Objects that have a history and character from use make new items seem plastic and shallow by comparison. Antiques range from Japanese-era swords to furniture and vases. For those concerned with authenticity, remember the words of the antique dealer, " It's only worth what you can get someone to pay you for it." That said, there's always the possibility of coming out with a treasure worth 10 times what you paid for it. Unique teapots, housewares and clothing are abundant. You never know what you'll find. From college students on a budget to wealthy shoppers coming to find something curious or unique, the FuHe flea market scratches your shopping itch.