Keelung people

50 year old fish stall in Huilong Market witnessed how everything has changed

People come and go in Huilong Market over the years, but Mian Jie Fish Stall stayed there for over half a century. The lady boss spent most of her life here and witnessed the rise and fall of Huilong Market. Her family moved from Xizhi to Keelung during Huilong Market’s heyday and has been operating the fish stall ever since. Before the age of supermarkets, Huilong Market was bustling with customers who shopped for groceries after work. Business was so good in the early days that the customers had to wait for the vendors to serve them. But now with the trend of food delivery and dining out, most people do not cook their own food hence grocery shopping is becoming obsolete. The vendors are decreasing, leaving more empty stalls. Some landlords even convert the stalls into warehouses for rent. Huilong Market used to be a one-stop entertainment center as it not only houses traditional market but also restaurants, billiard halls, cinemas and dance halls on the second floor. As this area gentrifies, the cinemas and restaurants have left, and the bowling alley only returned in recent years, hoping to woo customers back to Huilong Market. It is undeniable that the traditional market is no longer relevant to the modern people, but those hanging signs served as a lock that contains the memories from the previous age.

The unspoken taboo: Red Light District

Just a few blocks away from Miaokou Night Market lies the unspoken taboo of the Keelung people: Railway Street, the Red Light District of the port. The alleys are rather dark, weakly lit by the neon signs and red light. On both sides, women behind “caged” doors dressed in tight mini skirts and form-fitting crop tops with skin-coloured leggings display their bodies in different angles as they sway left and right. Red Light District in Keelung was formed during the prosperous period of the Keelung Port which was once the largest commercial harbours of Taiwan. Back then, there was a high demand on prostitution as many American soldiers and port workers would go to the red light district on their holidays to fulfill their desires. With the flourishing of the red light district, there were tragedies happening under the red light too. However, the locals have always been reluctant to go near the red light district, let alone to understand the stories hidden behind those “caged” doors. Up till today, the rights of the prostitute are still not protected by the constitution as there is still a dispute over whether to legalize the prostitution industry.

The red light district