Chenghuang Temple in Hsinchu
Chenghuang, or City of God, Temple is my favorite place in Hsinchu so far. Part of it may be influenced by the fact that I found it completely on my own, making it a little more intimate. It is also a beautiful temple, of course, and it has an interesting story, being the highest ranking City of God temple in all of Taiwan (link), but it is more than that. The temple is surrounded by these markets, which I am completely infatuated with. There are areas for produce, fabric, clothing, Buddhist goods, food vendors, and even little restaurants set up. In some ways it is very familiar to the markets I've seen in Korea and elsewhere in Asia, but it is distinctly its own. I could be wrong, but it feels like in Chenghuang's markets, people come here just to be at the market, rather than it being a tedious chore to go shopping that forces them to it. People come and grab lunch, leave gifts in the temple itself, let their kids play in the temple entrance (as seen in the picture above), and pick up some things. Its even vibrant at night on the weekend, filled with people getting dinner.
The front entrance to the fabric section, closed and shuttered at night, but bustling in the daylight.
I like the atmosphere and the crowded stalls. I love the convenience of the set up. And more than that, being a brisk 7 minute walk from my house, it is my market - the one I go to for my weekly groceries and occasional wandering. I feel more grounded having found it, and it makes Hsinchu a little more of my home.