Monday, February 25, 2013

Photos and panoramas of Kaohsiung

This Kaohsiung City Government website has an engaging collection of photos and panoramas of attractions in the municipality, including aerial shots of Mount Banping, the very modern Da Dong Arts Center in Fengshan District and an oil-paper umbrella store in Meinong.

Just a few days ago, I was at this spot in Maolin, enjoying very similar views of the surrounding mountains and the post-Typhoon Morakot bridge.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Know your fruit: The custard apple

Back in December, these custard apples were being sold right outside Taitung's railway station. Sometimes called sweetsops or Buddha's head fruit (because they resemble the Buddha's curly hair) they're one of Taitung's best-known agricultural products; more than four-fifths of Taiwan's custard apples are grown in the southeastern county.

When ready to eat, the exterior becomes soft. Inside, the flesh is white, sweet and somewhat like custard in texture. In Chinese, they known as shì jiā (釋迦).

Friday, February 15, 2013

Tibetan Buddhism in Taiwan

In recent years, Tibetan Tantric Buddhism has gained ground in Taiwan - a prominent convert is former Defense Minister Chen Li-an (陳履安) - and a number of Tibetan-style temples have been established. One of the most prominent isn't far from my home in Tainan: Gemagejyu Temple, also known as Karma Kagyu Monastery, is just south of Highway 20, very near the km22.5 marker.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Gold for the Jade Emperor

On the first day of the Year of the Snake, Nankunshen Daitian Temple was exceptionally crowded, but I did get to see the newest attraction inside this ancient temple – a solid-gold tablet [pictured left] dedicated to the Jade Emperor. Weighing 405kg, at today's gold price it's worth about US$23.5m.

This slow-to-load Chinese-language blogger has posted some superb photos of the complex; the very first and some lower down show the Jade Emperor tablet.

Friday, February 1, 2013

More on Koxinga and Dajia

 In 1961, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China and the 300th anniversary of Koxinga's arrival in Taiwan, Chiang Ching-kuo (then head of Taiwan's security services, later its president) commissioned what was then the world's largest statue of Koxinga. Like the Koxinga shrine I wrote about recently, it stands on Mount Tiezhen (鐵砧山) near Dajia.