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Feb04 Tuesday:

Betty and I go cycling:
Richard needs to finish marking papers. So Betty and I go off on bicycles.
Taiwan: Taiwan: We pause at a street-vendor selling orchids.
Taiwan: Taiwan: Taiwan:
Taiwan: Taiwan: And at a shop selling orchids and other potted plants.
Taiwan: A strange fruit known as Custard Apples.
Taiwan: What & why? (I suspect there is something in this photo worthy of comment, but do not remember what.)
Taiwan: Taiwan: Taiwan:
Taiwan: Taiwan: Betty and I stop for tea at a chinese apothecary; he and his assistant also entertain us on some intriquing musical instruments.
Taiwan: Taiwan: Taiwan: Another orchid shop.
Taiwan: Taiwan: Betty considers some clothing; I consider some tea equipment; neither buys.
Taiwan: We stop for lunch in a pleasant place with a bilingual menu (includes English).
 
At the Fo Kuang Mountain temple:
Later, we visit the famous budhist temple atop Fo Kuang Mountain (pronounced Fo Gwong). For more information on the sect and on this temple which is also their headquarters, see: philtar.ucsm.ac.uk/encyclopedia/china/fokuang.html. We travel with Alice & BJ & two children, in their VW van; along with Mike (British) and Meyer (S.African). The VW Transporter is considerably bigger than a Varica. Alice owns an English school of the Bushiban variety, and both Mike & Meyer teach there.
Taiwan: It is a long uphill walk to get to the temple.
Taiwan: At a turn in the path, is a wishing well. Apparently, if your coin hits the bell, then your wish will be granted. About half the coins struck the bell, while I observed.
Taiwan: Taiwan: Taiwan: Looking down from the wishing well.
Taiwan: The last bit of the climb is steeper.
Taiwan: Taiwan: Then we find ourselves in a roof-top garden with rows of shrubs, and rows and rows of identical (very nearly) budhas, each making the same hand gestures as the giant budha on the roof. Is the right hand saying "no" while the left hand is "out", or is the right hand pushing someone away while the left hand is fondling, or are both hands fondling? Perhaps the right hand is waving a greeting while the left is distributing aid to the poor?
Taiwan: The giant budha on the roof, together with a nearby life-size budha. The giant can be seen from miles away. The giant looks younger and more well-fed than the ones on our level; all of them have large ear-lobes; but none look like the fat boyish sitting budha to which I am accustomed.
Taiwan: Taiwan: Taiwan: We are about 20 feet below the roof, atop which the giant budha stands.
Taiwan:
Taiwan: Our entire group, except for BJ, Richard and me.
Taiwan: The western sky is reddish and hazy, so that one can look at the near setting sun.
Taiwan: Over the side of the roof is a blaze of purple.
Taiwan: We follow a path toward the museum part of the temple.
Taiwan: Taiwan: Taiwan: Inside, we see hundreds of budhas, male budhas, female budhas, sitting budhas, standing budhas, skinny budhas, fat budhas, budhas with a variety of hand gestures, wooden budhas, ceramic budhas, stone budhas, metal budhas. Many are behind glass, with very simple humidifying devices. I photograph only a few.
Taiwan: We get a break from the budhas, when we encounter a scale model of the entire temple complex. Note the giant budha on the roof of the temple. Either we have only seen a very small portion of this enormous complex, or perhaps not everything in this model has been constructed yet? (In Taiwan I am often left wondering since I neither read nor understand Chinese.)
Taiwan: We also see a map of the world, presumably showing all the branches of this Fo Kuang Shan group. They have quite a North American presence, also European. I wonder how the portion of N.Americans who are Budhist compares to the portion of Asians who have been Christianized?
Taiwan: Taiwan: Two versions of the many-armed budha.
Taiwan: A flowering orchid with a blurry budha in the background.

[NO PHOTO] At one point, we encounter a young lady who presents each visitor with a cut flower; and we learn through gestures and tone of voice, that the only acceptable thing to do with this "gift" is to walk ten feet then give it to Budha. (These cut flowers are then recycled.) This seems a curious ritual, but then I find many rituals so.
Taiwan: Taiwan: Taiwan: Back outside, darkness is nigh, and the lights are on. I have no idea what it says, but the symbols are made from different coloured plants.
Taiwan: And some symbols constructed with flowering plants.
Taiwan: Many lights, at 1/3 second. Something seems to have gone awry in the bottom left quarter of this photo? Perhaps a person passing rapidly, in a bent-over position, and there for only part of the one-third second?
Taiwan: More lights, as we leave the temple grounds.
Taiwan: Taiwan: Outside the temple grounds, is something of a carnival.
Taiwan: Taiwan: Two shots of a man carrying a large bundle of balloons. The second one with movement, is bizarre. (at 1/2 second)
Taiwan: From below, a night-time view of the mountain with giant Budha on top. (this is a 1 second exposure; a tripod would be appropriate; all I find to lean on is a rickety fence.)
Taiwan: Taiwan: A suspension bridge having all the suspenders coming from a single tower, in the shape of an inverted-Y. (at 1/3 second)
 
Dinner at a Karaoke bar:
Taiwan: Taiwan: Taiwan: We have had dinner & beer at this Karaoke place, which is nearly underneath that single tower bridge. Here we are after dinner, sitting around the tea table, and sipping tea.
Taiwan: Taiwan: First Betty, then Betty & Richard perform. This is after all a Karaoke place. Incidentally, in a Taiwanese city one never needs to go more than block to find Karaoke; some places have a sign with some Chinese and "OK", others have some Chinese and "KTV" - perhaps denoting the particular technology being employed?
Taiwan: On the wall hangs the traditional farmer attire, which is made of woven grass.