Taiwan (2007-2017): South-West

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(2009 and 2017) Tainan:

Tainan (with its western district Anping) is the most interesting city in Taiwan, with many pieces of historical heritage and atmospheric teahouses and shops.

 

Confucius temple, the oldest in Taiwan, originally built in 1665:

 

- Main entrance gate to the temple.

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- Another gate to the temple.

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- Inside the temple compound, the Gate of Rites and behind it the Path of Righteousness.

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- Left: Edification Hall, the site of the first official school in Taiwan. Right: Pavilion standing on the right of the Edification Hall. This pavilion is dedicated to Wenchang Dijun, the God of Literature and Education. Its first floor is square, its second floor is round, and its third floor is octogonal.

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- Reproduction of a text from ″The Great Learning″ (one of the four books of Confucianism) inside the Edification Hall.

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- Da Cheng Gate that opens into the courtyard of the Da Cheng Hall.

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- Left: Da Cheng Hall, the main building of the temple. Right: Inside the hall. Da Cheng means ″Great Achievement″.

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- Shrine on the right of the Da Cheng Gate.

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- Pan Gong stone arch facing the entrance gate of the Confucius temple. Built in 1777 this arch used to be the main entrance to the temple.

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The small, but pretty Wufei Temple established in 1683 and dedicated to the 5 concubines of the last Ming emperor Zhu Shugui:

 

- Facade of the temple.

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- Left and right: Paintings on the door. Center: Inside the temple.

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Fahua Temple, a Buddhist temple, first constructed in 1684, almost completely destroyed during World War II, then reconstructed with the same layout.

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Shrine dedicated to Zheng Chenggong (1624-1662), better known by his honorific name Koxinga. Born in Japan to a Japanese woman and a Chinese pirate, Koxinga was a Ming loyalist who resisted the Qing conquest of China′s southeastern coast and, after defeating the Dutch colonists in February 1662, established a dynasty that ruled Taiwan as the Kingdom of Tungning. He died of malaria in June 1662.

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Lady Linshui Temple. It focuses on the cult of Lady Linshui, the Goddess of Birth and Fertility. It was established in 1736, but its current appearance dates from 1983. Even by Taiwanese standards, its interior decorations are quite overwhelming.

 

- Entrance of the temple.

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- Mural paintings at the entrance.

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- Left: Portion of a ceiling. Right: Elaborate decorations in the main prayer hall.

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- Representation of Lady Linshui.

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- Lady Linshui is supported by 36 assistants, three for each month of the year, who are represented by statuettes displayed in glass boxes along the side walls.

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Dongyue Temple. Originaly built in 1673, it is dedicated to Yuedi, the king of the underworld, and other deities of the underworld. It focuses on judgment and the afterlife. People go there to pray for the deceased and sometimes communicate with them. Some temple′s statues are a bit creepy.

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City God Temple. Its role is similar to that of the Dongyue Temple. The City God weighs the moral character of the deceased and decides what kind of afterlife he/she should have. As a symbol, a large abacus hangs above the temple′s entrance to compute how much good and bad one has done in life. The statues are as creepy as in the Dongyue Temple.

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Official God of War Temple. Established in 1690, this temple is dedicated to Guan Di (also known as Guan Gong and Guan Yu), a Han dynasty general deified as the God of War, one of the most widely worshipped deities in both Chinese Buddhism and Taoism.

 

- Left: Main hall. Right: Lanterns in the main hall. (Photos taken in 2009.)

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- Left: Main hall. Right: Statue of Guan Di in the main hall. (Photos taken in 2017.)

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- Rear hall.

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Grand Matsu Temple (Da Tianhou Gong). The place was built in 1664 as a palace for the last emperor of the Ming dynasty, Zhu Shugui. It was converted into a temple in 1683. Its current appearance dates from the restorations of 1775.

 

- Golden statue of Matsu, the Goddess of this temple.

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- Other statues.

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- Lion guard and stone carving at the main entrance of the temple.

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- Octagonal red door.

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- One of many wall paintings in the temple.

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Matsu Temple in Anping.

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Prayer cards posted in a temple, asking for good luck on exams.

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Temple lights.

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Ornamental weapon replicas in temple.

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Statues at Chihkan Towers (Fort Proventia). Fort Proventia was a Dutch outpost built in 1653 during the Dutch colonization of Taiwan (then called Formosa). It was captured by Koxinga in 1661. These statues symbolize the Dutch surrender, with the Dutch commander on the left and Koxinga in the center.

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Stone tortoises with tablets on their backs at Chihkan Towers. These statues were sent by emperor Qianlong (Qing dynasty) in the late 1780′s.

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Small restaurant and its courtyard in Anping.

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Small restaurant serving soup with a sausage.

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Chinese pharmacy.

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(2016 and 2017) Kaohsiung:

Kaohsiung is the second largest city and the largest port in Taiwan. In recent years it has become an increasingly attractive city.

 

Views of the city and the port. The port is between the city center and Cijin Island. Cijin Island is visible in the foreground of the first photo below.

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The redbrick British Consulate built in 1865 on top of a hill at the entrance of Kaohsiung‛s port.

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Ferry traffic between the main land and Cijin Island (visible in the background).

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Statues in the old Matsu temple of Cijin Island.

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Newer temple on Cijin Island.

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Flat fishing boats made of bended plastic pipes, on Cijin Island.

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Kite flying in parks in Cijin Island and central Kaohsiung is popular.

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View at sunset from downtown Kaohsiung. Cijin Island is visible, with its lighthouse at its northern tip.

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Dome of Light at the Formosa Boulevard station of the subway (Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit).

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Night market and its delicacies.

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The Lotus Pond is a man-made lake located 13km north of the center of Kaohsiung. It is famous for its remains of the Old Wall of Fengshan built in 1826 and exuberant temples.

 

- Gate in the Old Wall of Fengshan. The wall is built with coral stone from the local Chaishan mountain, but the arch of the gate uses granite from China.

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- Dragon and Tiger Pagodas. The two communicate, as entering the dragon′s mouth and exiting the tiger′s mouth is expected to turn bad luck into good fortune. The two pagodas stand on the lake. A long bridge (in gray stone) makes 9 sharp switchbacks to give access to the pagodas. Walking this bridge is supposed to remove evil spirits.

 

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- Spring and Autumn Pavilions commemorating Lord Kua. It consists of two Chinese-style octagonal pagodas (only one is visible in each of the pictures below), a huge dragon making several bends, and three characters riding the dragon. The character in white is Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy.

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- Pei Chi Pavilion. It is dedicated to the Taoist deity Xuan Shan Di, also known as the ″God Emperor of the North Pole″ or the ″Supreme Emperor of the Dark Heaven″. The pavilion is built upon the lake and accessed by a straight bridge lined with statues on both sides. The pavilion and its god statue are 24m high. The sword in the god′s hand is 11.5m in length. Inside the pavilion there is another (smaller) statue of the god and some beautiful paintings.

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The Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum (http://www.fgsbmc.org.tw/en/) lies in Kaohsiung‛s Dahu district a bit far (over 30km) from the city center. Its construction started in 2008 and ended in 2011. The layout is quite impressive and beautiful (see picture below). However, the details are less so. The 8 pagodas flanking the Great Path to the huge Buddha statue in the back and the 4 Indian-style white stupas at the corners of the Main Hall definitively lack the elegance of older pagodas and stupas. In addition, the mercantile atmosphere throughout most of the museum grounds (shops, restaurants, even a Starbucks, and exhibitions) is distracting.

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(Source: http://www.fgsbmc.org.tw/en/)

 

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