Look down when you walk….

Headed down Jianguo to return my library books, I wasn’t paying attention to the sidewalk.  It was there; I was walking on it. I was thinking about what flowers to get at the Holiday Flower Mart. Then, about 100 yards in front of me I saw two ladies – it looked like a Mother and a daughter – look down and swerve when nothing obvious was in their way. Hmmm, maybe a bad dog owner not taking care of his pet’s “souvenir”? ewww! As I got closer to where they had swerved I nearly jumped back! On the sidewalk was a greyish-brown SPIDER as big as my hand (I kid you not)! Had I not looked, I would either have stepped on it or…..I hate to think of the alternative. It might have been a tarantula although I wasn’t getting close enough to see how hairy it was (it looked kinda hairy) or even take a pic (though I wanted to). The thing had FANGS. Maybe it was an escapee from a nearby pet store? Maybe it was disturbed when the storefront it was in front of got cleaned out? Why was it out in the sunlight, albeit in the shade on that side of the street? Who knows. What I do know is that I will be a whole lot more careful in checking out the ground where I walk, especially when wearing sandals.

Holiday flower market

A lot of Taiwan’s sights are located in spare spaces: hidden underground, beneath overpasses, in some really unlikely spots. You might easily drive, ride, or walk by them without notice. The Taipei “Holiday” flower and jade markets are no exception. I stumbled onto the flower market when I walked down the wrong side of Jianguo, trying to find the main Taipei Library.

Greenery Galore!

Inside the market, the first thing you notice is the fragrance of a million flowers and flowering plants. There are blossoms of every shape, size, and color. It’s like a wacky kalidiscope image, bursting at the seams. The market stretches farther than I can see and I wander along, simply amazed by it all.  The Taiwanese love their greenery and you can see why – so many options. Bonzai galore, one even taller than me (and that’s saying something!). Water plants (lilies, lotus) for dish gardens and outside fountains. Pots, saucers, rocks, gardening implements and garden furniture. Herbs, fruit and citrus trees, strange insect-eating plants, orchids galore all being misted from above to maintain their health (I guess the intense natural humidty isn’t enough, but I must say the mist feels good). Vendors pass out samples of their teas and various drinks made from herbs, and lots of, well,  I’m not really sure exactly what the ingredients were, but most of it was delish! So many choices but finally I settle on a bunch of sweetheart roses (20 stems for 50NT) for less then 2.00US. Of course the bouquet is beautifully wrapped, the stems inserted into water for the trip home, and then placed into a long plastic bag to protect it on its journey on public transportation.

Bougainvilleas

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As for me, I will take the road less travelled…