Jianguo Jade Market (建國玉市), Bargains, bric-a-brac, and heckling

Jianguo Jade Market (建國玉市) is a weekly happening in one of the car parking lots below the elevated Jianguo Road in Da’an. When the cars vanish at the weekend, some 300-ish vendors set up shop to sell gemstones, antiques, coral reefs, talismans, precious jewelry, worthless bric-a-brac (it’s not always clear which is which) – and of course the jade that gives it its name.

Coming there, the crowded hustle and bustle in the narrow lanes was at first overwhelming, but taking the time and the place quickly raised my hunting instinct, this time more for a good photo shot than a bargain. On the one side of the stands, curious tourists and hard-nosed Taiwanese grannies looked for a souvenir for their loved ones or the right charm for the holiday to come. But it was the vendors on the other side that were the actual highlight of the place.

Thus, I found ladies gossiping and old men and young students alike watching videos to kill the time. A gentleman dressed up in suit and tie fondly aligned his fossils. Cagey vendors praised and touted their goods, bargaining for business, fun, and honor, as it seemed. A fascinating microcosm of idleness and entrepreneurship!