Grace Tkel makes change at the Palau Night Market
Koror – It’s an hour before showtime and Grace Tkel is already at her assigned vendor’s table arranging the food display, as local patrons browse through what she has brought down from Choll County, where she lives. Tkel is talking with customers and fielding questions about what food she has, all while hunching down for exact dollar bills and coins for customers’ change — a skillful juggling act. Tkel is a regular presence at the Palau Night Market, where her local food and delicacies are sought by revelers gathered for the fortnightly event.
When the Palau Night Market started almost seven years ago at Ernguul Central Park — formerly Bethlehem Park — it was nearly a victim of its own success. The Palau Visitors Authority, which organizes the event, had hoped to spice up the nightlife for tourists by creating the night market, empowering entrepreneurs and showcasing the island’s culinary delights. Today, with almost two dozen vendors and booths of various activities attracting a crowd of mostly local residents, the event has become more of a needed night diversion for locals than a tour industry’s go-to destination.
Launched in October 2010, the night market concept comes from the As