Friday, May 05, 2006

Guang Hua Computer Market

The otaku(to borrow a word from Japanese) mecca of Taipei is, without a doubt, Guang Hua Market. Just don't go expecting Akihabara, OK? This is Taiwan, man, so expect a little grit with your geek paradise. Expect a bajillion scooters and even more people to perpetually throw themselves in your path, forever screwing with your meticulously planned approach vectors. Expect food stands selling corn dogs. And heaven help you if your idea of geeking out is having a milkshake at some posh maid cafe somewhere.

What you should expect to see are motherboards, lots and lots of motherboards. You will also see a lot of mp3 players, graphics cards, power supplys, computer cases and case accessories of every description, many PC games in Chinese, a few in English, Japanese console games, manga, dvds, AV(wink, wink, nudge), books on computers, recordable media, and everything you could possibly need to connect X to Y. To illustrate this last point a bit better, let me relay a personal anecdote or two. Exhibiting the foresight I am know for, I brought my Saturn PS2 pad(this is a PS2 controller in the form of an old Sega Saturn controller, perfect for arcade style games) with me to Taiwan. I did not bring my PS2 and had no method to connect this to my computer, but I had a hunch Taipei wouldn't let me down. Guang Hua delivered in about 10 minutes with a PS/PS2 to USB converter. It works like a charm and has led to much emulation goodness on my PC. For a more serious challenge, I also decided to look for a way to run homebrew code on my Nintendo DS -- I hate paying shipping on stuff like this and the hunt itself is kind of fun. Once again, Guang Hua delivered with a Passkey2 for less than $30(I already had a gba flashcart).

Getting to Guang Hua is pretty easy, but there is some confusion due to the fact that they tore down the building that the market was previously housed in. They are building a nicer building, set to open in 2007 I believe, but for now you can find the market in a temporary structure on Civic Blvd. near Xinsheng Rd. If you hop off the MRT at Zhongxiao Xinsheng station, just walk north till you get to Civic and hang a left. Guang Hua will be a little ways down on the left. There will be about a thousand scooters out in front of it and you may even see the ad in the image on the left there(by the way, if you are wondering what the Taipei Game Show -- last held in February -- is like, just take that picture and multiply it by about 100,000. That'll give you an inkling).

Oh, and I also bought a new copy of ESPGaluda for PS2 at Guang Hua for about $24. Holy hell it was sweet when I bought that! That game is like $60-65 on the import sites, if you can even find it. It has this nice sticker on it that says, "OFFICIAL PRODUCT. Pricing and 'For Japan Only' mark printed inside the case are not applicable. MADE IN JAPAN." It has another sticker which says, "DVD video inside the package are exclusively for Japan Market." Yeah, it seems like this is the official Japanese version, which comes with a dvd, only repriced for Taiwan.

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At 3:45 AM, Anonymous Paige said...

I'm a Taiwanese student studying in the US. One of the things that we Taiwanese students make sure to bring here is all kinds of wires! There's no other place on earth that you can find any wire you need at such a low price so easily, and definately not in the States.
I've only been to the old Guang Hua Market, but your description is vivid. Gamers and geeks and Otakus spend every weekend there. Haha!

At 11:17 PM, Blogger Jon said...

Thanks for the local scoop Paige! I was there yesterday, and yes, there were a lot of wires!

At 11:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know what is the big fuss about the guang hua market.I mean prices on cellphones,laptops,sd disks,memory sticks are the same or some cases even more then you would pay in u.s.Yeah they have a few more then you ever need motherboards among other gadgets but still,the prices are high and is not worth going there.Besides a new building is far from being done and across street some local store selling computers for regular prices.For instance HP 6000 is around 1300 usd,iphone around 700 usd,memory stick of 8 gb is around 38 usd.Doesn't matter if you're buying 1 or 10,the will not change in your favor.So,please don't listen to anyone who tells you that the guang hua market is the one!Far from it dude!

At 12:59 AM, Blogger Jon said...

Thanks for the comment Anon. I'd just like to add that Taiwan in general isn't the place to go if you want cheap electronics. Perhaps some locally produced items are cheaper than they are in the U.S., but my experience overall was that consumer electronics were more expensive in Taiwan than back home. This is especially true of high end items. However, there was an abundance of cheap keyboards, mice, etc!

At 10:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am Thai who studing in Taipei. but i think thailand(Bangkok Pantip)is lower than Gunghua market.

At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am Thai I will go to visit Guanghua today to have a look.

At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm a malaysian students tht study in national taiwan ocean university.
i wanted to ask u, if there any market in keelung like this.


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