Articles tagged with "market"

Keelung night market

Keelung night market

From Yeliu we went to Keelung. Keelung is famous for its night market, and so the streets were thronging with people out to sample the goods. We all piled in and bought as many unusual foods as we could find. I don’t eat meat so this meant that about 95% of the market had nothing for me. I do eat meat if it’s some interesting animal that I haven’t tried before, but I’ve already eaten squid, octopus, frog, and all of the other unfortunate animals I could see at Keelung.

There were not many foreigners in the market, and we attracted attention. A guy who spoke some english stopped us and asked us where we were from and why we were here. We had a chat about astronomy and Taiwan, and he and his friend told us which food stalls we should go to for the best of Taiwanese street food.


Quito

Quito

Quito was a strange place. We found a hostel in what seemed like a slightly rough part of town, but then more or less all of Quito felt like a rough part of town. Most people in the hostel said they had either been robbed here, or knew someone who had been. I really didn’t want to end my trip by getting mugged and so I felt slightly edgy and paranoid whenever we were out and about.

Three months previously I’d been at the very southern tip of the continent, four thousand miles to the south. Now we were just a few miles south of the equator, and we decided to go north for a day, to the markets at Otovalo. The bus from Quito took us through spectacular Andean scenery, and somewhere along the way we crossed the legendary line. I felt like there should have been some kind of ceremony, or at least an announcement, but I suppose there is little novelty in crossing the equator for an Ecuadorian. We spent a few hours in the northern hemisphere, shopping for souvenirs. It was pleasant enough, but I didn’t think Otovalo really compared to Chichicastenango in Guatemala, where I’d spent an amazing day five years previously buying rugs, pottery, blankets and bags. Chichicastenango was all hustle and bustle with an intense atmosphere of bargaining that meant coming away empty-handed was very unlikely; Otovalo seemed very tranquil in comparison.

The next day was my last in South America. After four months on the road I was tiring, and although I was hugely sad that this mighty journey was coming to an end, I was looking forward to seeing family and friends again. We spent the day at the Museo del Banco Central, which had some impressive pre-Spanish artefacts and some good contemporary art, and then after a trip to a supermarket to buy as much dulce de leche as I could carry, we went back to the hostel. We cooked up a celebratory feast, and then spent a great couple of hours sitting on the roof, looking out over the lights of Quito and the dark shape of the volcano Pichincha silhoutted against them in the distance. Before the trip, I’d been working at the Home Office, and when I left my colleagues gave me 75 US dollars and a huge cigar – perfect for a trip to South America. I’d spent the dollars long ago in Paraguay and Brazil, but I’d been saving the cigar until now. I smoked myself into a blissful mellow haze and thought back to landing in Buenos Aires back in October the previous year. It seemed like a very, very long time ago.


Market madness

Market madness

The next day, we went to a mountain town called Chichicastenango. Apart from having a fantastic name, Chichi is famous for its markets. Local people converge on the town from the surrounding countryside every Sunday and Thursday to buy and sell fruit and veg, and many stalls sell fantastic Guatemalan handicrafts, bought mainly by foreigners. We had found that it was very easy to live cheaply in Guatemala, and we had enough spare money to go on a bit of a souvenir binge. After four hours of intense haggling, I came away with three rugs, two hammocks, some painted pots and a huge blanket, all at very agreeable prices. It was great fun, and I was sad to leave. Laden with new belongings, we decided to pay the extra for a minibus direct back to Antigua.

And so with exactly a week to go, we found ourselves back in Antigua. There were two things left to do – climb the volcanoes, and visit the Mayan ruins at Tikal. The ruins had not been on our original agenda, but we decided that if we had time, we would try and see them, as they are said by those in the know to be the most spectacular of the Mayan sites. But Moh had spent a little too lavishly at the market, and didn’t have enough for the bus fare, so it was on my own that I got the overnight bus from Guatemala City to Flores, way up in the north of Guatemala on the Yucat√°n peninsula.