Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Baoan Temple Firewalking

Following are scenes from Baoan Temple on April 20. The Baosheng Culture Festival continued for several days both before and after, but we went on the 20th to see the firewalkers.

The place was full of spectators an hour before anything interesting happened. I was surprised by the number of Westerners with cameras in attendance.
Some statues that are slated to be carried over the hot coals.

Eventually they opened the gates and the crowd pressed in.

I tried to become adept at the art of taking pictures while holding the camera above my head.

Guys holding baskets of sand dumped their load on the hot coals, and the men carrying gods began to trudge across.

No clear views of any person actually walking on the hot coals and sand, but I got off some cool smoky shots.
Afterwards, this individual gave us little cookies in return for donations.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Nazi Motorbike

So I passed a parked motorbike today with a Nazi flag sticker on it. Pity I didn't have my camera - I would have loved to have taken a picture.

Living in Korea and Taiwan has successfully disassociated the swastika symbol from Nazism in my mind. Here it's a symbol of Buddhism and it has no negative connotations.

That said, the sticker on that motorbike was quite definitely the Nazi tricolor. I suspect there was no evil intention on the motorbike owner. Hitler never became the great cultural villain in East Asia that he is in the West; people here know who he is, of course, but Nazism and its associated symbolism doesn't spark the same visceral reaction that it does in Europe and North America. I think the owner of the motorbike just saw the sticker (I'd love to know where he/she saw it!) and figured, "Cool. Buddhist."

I hope.

Monday, April 07, 2008


Take a look at a map of Taiwan and you'll see that most of the populated areas are along the coast - the interior is barely populated. The interior is where Jenna and I went this weekend. Lishan lies on the Central Cross-Island Highway - a highway that several hundred war veterans died to create in the 1950s - and is well-known for its locally grown fruit and sweeping views.

A couple of pictures I took in Lishan and at a nearby model farm popular for its scenic views:
I'm not sure what is being grown here, but it looks neat.
Lishan, from above.

Something that amazes me about Lishan is the utter lack of any name-brand convenience store. No 7-11, Family Mart or OK Mart. Just a bunch of local all-purpose general stores. Very strange for Taiwan, where the chains can be found everywhere and even Penghu has a Starbucks.
A depressing abandoned church.
Clothesline in front, mountains in back.