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Taiwanese Culture

Temples of Taiwan

If you go to Taiwan you will definitely experience the sights, sounds and even the smells of the temples there. The sights are sometimes beautiful, ornate and even foreboding. The sounds can be quiet or extremely noisy thanks to the use of Firecrackers to scare demons and ghosts etc. Also you will probably notice a stong smell of incense when you walk or drive by a temple.

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The temple that reminds me best of recent times when I was in Taiwan is one at ‘Song Bo Lin’. I remember it well as I learned to drive in the nearby Nantou City and the driving instructor took me there as training! After I passed my test and got my own car I liked to drive to this small town with its busy mountain temple and surrounded by tea growing areas just to chill out. The smell of tea and incense was often heavy in the air.

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There are lots of beautiful and intricate designs you can see at temples in Taiwan. The picture above was taken when I went on a picnic with my mom, also near Nantou. The picnic was great as we cooked meat and vegetables within fires and then went to this nearby temple to have a look around. On that day there were lots of offerings displayed on tables which would be burned and set to the dead…

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Also not far from my home town there is the famous Bagua Mountain Scenic Area which is a Buddhist temple. This is in Changua county and I often went past this impressive sight on the way to my aunties house. These Busshist temples are often dominated by a very large and impressive statue. Sometimes the Dao temples also have statues of their gods towering above the temples, usually also in hillside and countryside settings where they are all the more impressive.

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Taiwanese Culture

Taiwan’s Night Markets

Taiwan’s special night markets are a very famous cultural signature of Taiwan. What is special about just a market at night you may ask… Well they aren’t just markets. They are a lot more than markets. The kinds of markets that sell meat, fish and vegetables in the west take place here in Taiwan in the morning and day times and usually at a completely different venue dedicated to such produce. Night markets are more like a nightly carnival with food and shopping liberally mixed in. So they can be quite a lot more entertaining than a morning or a day market.

Taipei – Shilin Night Market

This is probably Taiwan’s most famous night market, it’s one of the biggest and takes place in the capital city. Apparently there are more than 500 food stalls alone within this night market!

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Above you can see one of the entrances to Shilin. If you are in Taipei and want to get to this market the best way is via the underground metro system – head to Jiantan Station on the Tamsui Line.

Taichung – Fengjia (or Feng Chia) Night Market

This is the night market where I have been the most often because I used to live near to Taichung and also went to high school in this city – Taiwan’s third biggest city in the middle of the island geographically.

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This night market is near Feng Chia University so of course it’s a popular destination for students who all love the wide range of hot and cold snacks to be eaten and all the fun and games that can be had at the carnival-like stalls. Some of my favourite game stalls are “hoopla” and the air guns. Also you will see very many stalls featuring the game with water filled balloons and darts.

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Kaohsiung – Liuhe Night Market

Kaohsiung’s biggest and best night market is called Liuhe Night Market. I’ve only been there once or twice as I haven’t been to this southernmost city very often. Kaohsiung is Taiwan’s second biggest city and a very big and important port.

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The night market here was great and had all the attractions you would expect. Overall I think that seafood, already popular in Taiwan, is even more prominent at this night market. That’s better than the touristy prominence of snake restaurants in Taipei!

If you visit Taiwan and have a spare evening make sure to go down to your local night market for a bit of food and fun!

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Taiwanese Culture

Taipei 101, great shopping, food and views

Taipei 101 is a truly impressive sight which dominates the skyline of Taipei, Taiwan’s capital city. The building, with 101 floors above ground and 5 below, provides the most fantastic views of the city and surrounding area but it is also a sight to behold in itself.

Below you can see a picture of Taipei 101 on a good clear day. The interesting and unique shape of the building is influenced by an organic form; that of bamboo. As your eye runs up the tower shape you can see the riged segments. The main segments consist of 8 floors each, a lucky number in Chinese culture. Of these similar riged sections there are also 8.

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There are lots of things to do at Taipei 101 for locals and tourists alike. At the base of the building there is a vast and impressive shopping mall. This mall houses stores owned by many of the world’s prestige brands such as Prada, Dior and Versace. There are further sections of this skyscraper dedicated to restaurants. Above the lower floor mall and restaurants much of the building is used by international finance and banking corporations. However the top is again used for pleasure/leisure and it features a number of fine dining restaurants and an observatory where tourists can get the best views of the city.

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At night the view is quite different but still stunning. In the picture above you can see the lights of the elegant looking tower rising above the cauldron of lights which emanate from central Taipei.

Taipei 101 was completed in 2004 and reigned supreme as the world’s tallest building, being 509 m (1,669.9 ft) tall, until 2010. Two other buildings have surpassed its height since 2010 but I won’t mention them here as this site is all about Taiwan! Every new year the Taipei 101 building provides a great firework show to welcome in the new year, it can be seen for miles around. If you go to visit Taiwan stopping by Taipei 101 on one of your days is a must.

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Categories
Taiwanese fruit and vegetables

Taiwan’s West coast scenes

The most accessible coast of Taiwan is on the West side of the island. This is the side of Taiwan where most people live. On the west the typical seaside is sandy and graduates slowly into the sea. Down the middle and towards the East of Taiwan a very large mountain range dominates the island. The east coast is characterised, in contrast to the West, by cliffs and boulders as the mountain range nears the sea.

Today I am sharing a few pictures of the West coast. I’ve found beautiful scenes of two places I visited a few years back. First of all I’ll start by the middle of Taiwan’s West coast.

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You can see above quite an attractive scene. This is a picture taken from the shore near Lugang. The sea there gets ever so gradually deeper and the sea bed is very sandy. The local fishermen have constructed miles of what you see above. These structures are made to cultivate oyster growth and make them easy to harvest.

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As the day became night I managed to take a great sunset shot which makes the sea have a gold appearance. Also you can see the tide has risen slightly to cover more of the Oyster nets.

Now lets go South. I often visit the lovely resort of Kenting National Park. Some people call this Taiwan’s Hawaii, but I think that is tretching the point… Nevertheless the area has great hotel, beaches and good nightlife as any good seaside resort should do.

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I caught with my camera the last few jet-boat rides as the sun set that day. The clouds particularly enhanced the scene. If you go to Kenting the sea tides are quite strong as you face the open Pacific ocean. It’s advisable not to swim too far off shore and be vigilant even if you are a strong swimmer.

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Here’s another shot of the same view as it got even darker and people reluctantly left the beach area. No problem, there’s lots of fun to be had in Kenting town with the lively night life and perpetual night markets!

Categories
Taiwanese fruit and vegetables

Beautiful insects in Taiwan

In Taiwan there are many beautiful insects. There are also some no-so-glamorous ones, but I’m not going to talk about those here and now. I took some pictures of these insects below on a day trip one spring time a few years ago. We went to an old pottery on the outskirts of Nantou County. The place also had a special wildlife garden and pools full of plants and busy with flying and swimming insects as you can see.

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In this first picture you can see a beautiful dragonfly. Its wings are hard to see, even in the big photo downloaded straight from my camera, they are almost transparent. It’s hard for viewers to judge the size of this insect from this picture but I can tell you the body of this insect is about 5 or 6cm long according to my memory.

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Here’s another dragonfly from the same day. This shot is obviously taken by a pond, you can see the large discs of the waterlily leaves floating in the background. The dragonfly itself is resting on a water lily flower. This dragonfly is beautifully coloured, a very deep and stunning red, it’s a shame that the picture looks so small on this web page. The double wings on this insect are particularly eye catching, the overall look reminds me of a WW1 “red baron” fighter plane!

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Here is another contrast. The butterfly I pictured in this photo is really rather plain in a pale leafy way. However this plainness really helps make a feature of the dual coloured flower upon which it is resting. Of course there’s lots more colourful and wonderful insects in Taiwan but that’s all for now on Taiwan Teapot!