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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Visit Southeast Asia without Leaving Taichung

Lisa Huang

Without traveling out of Taiwan, you can experience Southeast Asia in Taichung.  First Square, near Taichung train station, is also called “Little Southeast Asia.” You can eat exotic foods or buy lots of things from the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand there. The grocery shops at First Square are my favorite shops in this area.

Photos by the author

There are lots of grocery shops at First Square. They look very normal, just like the grocery shops at Taiwan. You will see neither beautiful wallpaper nor beautiful paintings on the walls; it’s just WHITE walls. And the shelves they put their groceries on are exactly the same as those in Taiwan’s grocery stores. However, the atmosphere is totally different from Taiwan’s stores. Because most of the groceries they sell in these stores are from Southeast Asia, you will run into lots of foreigners there and see lots of words on package labels that you can’t understand!

They sell four types of groceries in the First Square “Little Southeast Asia” grocery shops: Filipino, Vietnamese, Indonesian, and Thai. You can browse freely and have a little adventure in the shops without people bothering you. If you want to know how to use an item in a certain dish, you can always ask the staff. If they are not busy, they are often willing to give you a brief introduction about the groceries they sell.

My favorite item is the green curry sauce. It is cheap and easy to cook. Usually I will cook it with some coconut cream, chicken drumsticks and vegetables. Cheap groceries are not the only reason I visit the shops; I also like the service they provide. Because there are lots of things that I don’t know how to cook, I always ask the people who work there how I can use the items they sell. By asking questions and talking with the staff, I also learn about different cultures and broaden my horizons.

First Square – “Little Southeast Asia” – is a wonderful place to visit if you want to experience different cultures or get some cheap and exotic groceries. If you have never been there before, grab some friends and visit the shops together; I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time!

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