Tuesday, June 25, 2013

At the Night Market

Pipkin and Domo visited this night market in central Taiwan, and sadly Pipkin can't remember the name of it. It was large and took up several streets, and it was filled with people out getting food for dinner, shopping for clothes, toys, and groceries. Although it was closed to cars and trucks, scooters and mopeds often loaded with up to 2 adults and 2 children, darted between the pedestrians on the crowded market streets. This market had everything!

Vendors, casually smoking over a variety of live, raw and cooked food. (How long have those raw things been out under the hot light of day?) The spinning ribbons over the seafood are keeping the flies from landing.

The buckets of fried squid are a tasty snack to share with a friend - if you're not vegetarian like Pipkin.

But maybe the fried squid isn't filling enough. You don't want a snack, you want a MEAL. Well, here's your meal. Whole BBQ tentacle! Domo is pleased.

If it's fashion you're after, the market has you covered from head to toe.

Pipkin got excited when this truck rolled through the street lighting firecrackers. He may have hopped onto the truck and snuck off with one...

Apparently the lighting of the firecrackers was the beginning of some sort of religious procession that Pipkin didn't understand. First went the truck with the firecrackers. Then these two men marched in semi-ceremonial garb and weapons in hand:

...who were followed by a line of people with incense burning and some sort of ceremonial treasure. As you can see, there are varying levels of involvement.

"Yo, can't talk right now, doing this ceremonial thing..."

For reasons Pipkin doesn't understand, the two men would dance about, chant loudly, and hit themselves with their swords.

Until they bled. Not sure how long that went on for, because Pipkin and Domo found something much better than self-mutilation and Harley-Davidson rejects from Red Deer, AB. Ice cream!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Taiwan Day 2: Sun Moon Lake, Yuchi, Nantou

Still in central Taiwan, Pipkin and Domo explored Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan's largest body of water, located in Nantou county, which happens to be the only landlocked county in Taiwan. The lake surrounds a tiny island called Lalu, and is named Sun Moon because its eastern side resembles a sun, while the western side resembles a moon.

It was raining when Pipkin and Domo first got out on the lake, so they stayed inside their fancy ride (above). When it wasn't raining, they took a couple shots of the lake from the bow of the boat:

Pipkin's guessing this thing out in the lake is for catching fish, but Domo's kind of hoping it's the most awesomest giant hammock. Really, they could be used for both. But...that would be a pretty smelly hammock.

On the northern shore of Sun Moon Lake is the Confucius Wenwu Temple. In its early days, there was no road around Sun Moon Lake to reach the temple, and visitors had to travel across the lake by boat and ascend a steep set of stairs. Dubbed the "stairway to heaven", it was renovated later when the road around the lake was completed. Now the Wenwu steps number in 366 and each step represents one day of a leap year. Pipkin and Domo posed on 5.18, the date they visited.

You can see on either side of the steps that people have hung prayer bells. They made a gentle chiming sound in the wind, but the further you descended down the steps, the fewer bells were hung, and the fewer visitors you'd see. Pipkin and Domo enjoyed the quiet, and took in view around them.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Taiwan Day 1: Chung Tai Shan Monastery, Puli

Their first day in Taiwan Pipkin and Domo visited Chung Tai Shan Monastery. It is the tallest Buddhist monastery in the world, nestled in the mountains of Puli, Nantou county, in central Taiwan. The view from here is gorgeous.

 Pretty gardens and parks surround the monastery. This is the Unity Bridge in Lotus Pond.

This fierce looking figure is a dharmapala - Dharma Protector - and sits outside many Buddhist temples. The dharmapala is there to avert the inner and outer obstacles that prevent practitioners from seeking spiritual realization. Domo doesn't even know what that means, so he's here expressing his frustration. No, he doesn't want to meditate on it.

Pipkin was a little embarrased by Domo so he sat outside the Hall of the Four Heavenly Kings. From here, he could feel the powerful air conditioning pour out the giant doors of the hall.

This is one of a pair of elephants outside Chan Joy Hall.

This cheerful statue sits under a bodhi tree in the Deer Garden - which, by the way, doesn't have any actual deer. There were stone statues of deer, but not any real deer. Yeah. WTF.

Finally, Pipkin and Domo went inside the monastery, but weren't allowed to take any photographs. They did manage to sneak this one photo. Amongst the grand statues and giant carvings made from thousand year old trees, Pipkin saw this vending machine for cold beverages.

People must be thirsty after all that praying and meditation.