The majestic temple of New Taipei

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DAY 4

(Reading time: 3 minutes)

Temples and shrines are scattered all over Taiwan, much like churches or chapels in most of Europe. Almost every one of them is richly decorated both inside and outside, from the floor to the roof. One then understands Asian tourists who photograph every piece of rubble in our holy places – we do something similar in Asia.

The main religions (teachings) in Taiwan are Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Taiwan is known for high ornateness of its religious buildings. There aren’t as many purely Buddhist temples, and they are rather of a modest appearance, but most temples combine all three traditions and are visually impressive to the point where you wonder whether it’s beauty or kitsch. You’re especially struck by vibrant colors, dragons on the roofs, lions with a ball under their paws, figurative statues and halls adorned with gold. Your eyes get overwhelmed, but you still want to see and photograph more and more… and when you return home, you read some smart articles about what each symbol means because you hardly understand it. 😀

One of the largest temples in Taiwan is Zhulin Guanyin (see the introductory photo).

You can find it in New Taipei and get there, for example, by a combination of metro and bus. However, we would recommend (after the trials with the bus transport to Jioufen) taking only metro and walking the rest. We took the purple line to Linkou station. It’s the same line that takes you to the airport, but a few stops closer. Well, and then it’s about 4km through the city… not ideal, but we like walking and talking (practically it’s just an hour’s walk, and along the way you get to know non-touristy areas of Taipei).

Zhulin is truly magnificent, there’s always lively buzz inside. It’s not some secluded corner for a quiet prayer. On the contrary! It’s a place for social gatherings. People of all ages bring small financial and food offerings, light scented sticks, chat together, and yes, they also pray. All this together creates a very pleasant lively atmosphere.

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During our tour, we noticed many small statues of lion cubs, some of which had a coin in their mouths. You don’t have to be a genius to understand that people put them there hoping for good fortune. We found (at least) two of them empty-mouthed, so we also contributed, which elicited approving smiles from the locals. What a cute moment.

Then we walked through the adjacent park, watched children feeding turtles (they’re not koi carp so…) and used the free afternoon for a shopping spree at Mitsui outlet center near the metro station.

In the evening, we visited Raohe Night Market again, where more food was waiting for us to taste. The highlight this time was an omelette with eggs, onions, cheese and hash browns.

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-endy-

DONKEY’S SPECIAL:

  • Positions of each stall at night markets are not fixed but shuffled around, some vendors from the previous day may not show up, or others with a new offer may appear, so every evening you can eat and drink differently.

-mj-

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