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Besides the more formal and orderly shopping malls, Taiwan's public markets are a must-see. Most markets open from morning till midnight, and are usually packed with market dwellers shopping for their daily groceries. Varieties of fresh vegetables, fragrant fruits, meats, fish, poultry, spices and condiments can be bought at the markets.

Come night, the scene at the markets changes. Fresh food vendors retire after a day's selling and out comes the food stalls or hawker stalls that serve amazing kinds of Chinese snack food at reasonable prices.

The most bizarre night market is the two-block-long lane in the Wanhua district called Snake Alley, named so because of the type of business that is run by some of the vendors on that street. As you pass by their shops, the 'products' they display will stun you. Snakes are the item of trade here. These serpents are sold for their blood and bile that is said to contain potent spirits and herbs. Customers do not only get to drink the snake potion, but the snake vendor will also entertain them as he displays the method of unzipping the snake to retrieve the potion. Those who are daring enough may ask to add a bit of poison venom to the mixture. This snake concoction is said to help strengthen men's eyes, lower spine, get rid of fatigue, and encourages the male sexual vitality. When the snakes are drained of their venom, their meat is cooked in soups - a scrumptious and nutritious dish.

Snake Alley also offers other more interesting and peculiar selection of stalls. Among them are fortune-tellers, vendors of herbal potions, tattoo parlors, fresh fruit stalls and hawkers of adornments and gems.

Other available markets include the Jaoho Street night market (near Sungshan Railway Station, east of Taipei) and the Shinlin market, which is one of Taipei's largest market.

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