Monday, May 27, 2013

Free wireless access for foreign tourists

Taiwan's Tourism Bureau has got together with local governments and telecoms companies to provide free wireless Internet access to foreign visitors. According to this report, all tourists need to do is to show their passport at a visitor information centre (there are dozens across the country, in airports, train stations and major tourist spots) and fill in a form. The report doesn't say if there's a cut-off date for the program. I would assume it'll last until the end of 2013 at the very least.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What do Taiwanese people ask for when they pray?

Taiwan's temples are often crowded with worshippers. What are they praying for? 

According to Religion,Occultism, and Social Change in Taiwan, a paper published by Academia Sinica - the ROC's most prestigious research institution - a few years back, the most popular requests made by those visiting folk shrines were physical health (80.8%), prosperity (75%), career or educational success (59.6%), reassurance (55.8%), safety during military service (48.1%), wisdom (48.1%) and good karma (42.3%). Of course, these categories are all quite broad, and because the data has been translated from Chinese to English (and likely Taiwanese to Chinese to English), it's hard to draw any firm conclusions. However, the survey did make another interesting finding: 53.8% said “habit” was a major reason they prayed. 

I took this photo at a fairly ordinary, medium-sized temple in Taoyuan City. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

New Taiwan travel website

Life of Taiwan, a travel website I wrote text for, was launched earlier this month and today was the subject of a full-page feature article in Taipei Times, Taiwan's main English-language newspaper. The website, which is designed to meet the information needs of those who've never visited Taiwan, has more than 150 pages of information about the country's history, culture, religions, cuisines and tourist destinations.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Religion in the Matsu Islands

Matsu's temples are pretty small by Taiwan standards, which isn't surprising given the population is less than 10,000 and flat land is at a premium. Several shrines are dedicated to Baimazunwang (白馬尊王, 'the honourable white horse king"). This minor god - human, not animal, in case you're wondering - is virtually unknown in Taiwan itself. 

The photo at the top shows a Baimazunwang temple on Nangan. The other image shows a discarded censer beside the same temple.