Many people come to Keelung to visit the famous Miaokou Night Market. In addition to enjoying tasty snacks, there are many interesting hidden wonders near the market. By the side door of Tien-Ji Temple, you can find one of these little gems: Herb Alley. The entrance is next to the famous A-Hua fried noodles stand.
“Keelung Herb Alley” refers to the alleys extending from Tien-Ji Temple. Originally, Keelung developed around the major temple. Zhangzhou immigrants gathered in the city to improve their health. Because of frequent epidemics and too few solutions from Chinese medicinal cures, people started turning towards newer herbicidal medicines not found in traditional Chinese medicine. In the alley’s heyday, there were twelve shops, but over time, people gradually reduced their use of herbs, leaving only three shops today.
These herb shops are hundreds of years old. They’re history and content are like a mini-botanical garden, overflowing with green and over-written with ancient wisdom. Aluminium boxes with red paper tags reveal each herb’s traditional names: Guanyin string, gold belt, double-sided thorn, watery lilac, white dragon boat. Behind each name, there is a story.
Smell the incense of dried grass and have a cup of herbal tea. Don’t be shy – bring a friend who speaks Chinese and chat with the shop owners about Taiwanese traditions!