I can’t think of a place in America quite like the night markets in Asian countries. I’ve been to night markets in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Taiwan and they are RAD. there are different types of night market, some are dedicated to one kind of product, like clothing or food. Others target certain clientele such as tourists, late night workers or hard-core bargainers, and just as many are some combo or all of the above.
Night markets are special. They are places where anything is possible. I once saw a guy riding a scooter with two monkeys, another time I pole danced for drinks (I kept my cloths on, don’t worry). In such magical places the chance that something amazing will happen is just as high as the chance that something terrible will.
I had been hunting for a new hoodie for weeks. I was doing the stall hop checking out what the Yilan night market had to offer. I found a cool flannel and some gloves I was thinking about getting, but that hoodie was still being elusive. Then something caught my eye. It was a black sweatshirt with rainbow letters that said, “I wont shut up.” For some reason I completely identified with this piece of clothing. I was playing a movie in my head where I was wearing the shirt and saying the words for the whole world to hear, NO I WILL NOT SHUT UP! It had to be mine.
It was hung on a high top shelf and I had to ask if the store clerk could get it down for me. I think it was a ladies garment so my request incurred a funny look, but I didn’t care. I took the shirt into the dressing room and tried to squeeze into it. It was pretty small but I was determined. I finally got it on despite its snug fit and then it happened. I felt a sharp pain in my left arm. “OOWWWW!”
I’m too young to be having a heart attack what is going on? I rubbed where the pain was and another burning sting started slightly further up my arm. “AHH!”
Then it hit me there was something in this sweatshirt with me. I grabbed my arm and felt something. It was moving. I struggled to reach up the sleeve but it was too tight. POW. Another, burst of pain ran up my arm. “ARG!”
I thrashed around the tiny dressing room trying to get the shirt off. After considerable effort I managed to wrestle the garment over my head and onto the ground and what I saw crawling out of the sleeve gave me a chill. It was a Japanese wasp, more commonly known as a tiger head bee in Taiwan and it was the biggest bee/wasp I have ever seen. I promptly smashed it and exited the dressing room to return the shirt. By that time my arm was starting to swell and I was sweaty and flushed.
Mallory urged that I go to a doctor, but I hate doctors so we just went home. When home I got online and did some ill-advised research that told me how deadly the tiger head bee was. I tried to dismiss it and by the time the swelling had subsided I went to bed.
These bees are pretty common in Asia and I’d seen them in the summer, but not quite so close. Also it was December, hardly bee season, so I was understandably shocked. Anyway, I got better, so no big deal. I still love the night market; I’ll just remember to check anything I try on for other tenants.
My rendition of the nights events.