Mon 21 Nov 16 - Mon 28 Nov 16
Buddhist Temples in Taiwan differ greatly from what I've see in Southeast Asia. Each area has grafted this new religion onto their previous beliefs, and it shows in their architecture and statuary. Though there are many temples, both large and small, here in Taipei; I found the Longshan Temple to be the best and most beautiful example.
This temple has a decorative but elegant outer gate at the street; an inner gate then leads to the courtyard containing the main temple where worshippers lay out offerings on a table and place burning incense in a golden cauldron. If you are lucky enough to come here at 4:30, you will be mesmerized by the melodic chanting of the adherents from the inner sanctuary.
What fascinates me about this Temple is the craftsmanship and the detail in the statuary. I know that there are stories and religious significance behind them, but taken out of context, they are beautiful pieces of art in their own rite.
I was also very impressed with Taipei's tallest building. I could see it was head and shoulders taller than any other building when I first saw it from Junjianyan hill over looking Beitou, (the suburb where I was staying). It was rainy and late in the afternoon, but you can see its size, if not its unique architecture.
It was only the next day, again rainy, when I was able to see the building up close and appreciate its "stack box" architectural style. This building has exactly 101 floors and was the tallest building in the world when it was built in 2004. It has since been eclipsed by Burj Khalifa.
I enjoy seeing how the rich half live, and decided to go in and see what luxury stores were inside. I was not disappointed; this well appointed mall had Cartier, Vuitton, BurBerry and all the other luxury brands arrayed in the upper floors of the mall .
The real draw though was to see the view from the top. This cost 25$ CDN, and since it had stopped raining, I thought I'd take the chance and see if the view was worth it.
And of course I had to see the famous ball that keeps the building from swaying in the wind.
"The damper consist of a steel sphere 18 feet across and weighing 728 ton, suspended from the 92nd to the 87th floor. Acting like a giant pendulum, the massive steel ball sways to counteract the building’s movement caused by strong gusts of wind."
The suburb of Beitou also contains hot springs and is a tourist attraction in itself. I took the MRT to the Xinbeitou station and in my to walk to find the hot springs, I found a beautiful building, the Public Library.
"Taiwan’s first green library opened in November, 2006. Designed by the Taiwanese firm Bio-Architecture Formosana, the Beitou Library is fitted with eco-friendly features and settings making it one of the most energy-efficient and environmental-friendly architectures of East Asia."
Its eco-friendly status aside, I love this building for its scale, warmth and "invitingness". As soon as I saw it, I felt a strong desire to go in and see what it was like inside. The wooden interior, the balcony for reading, and the lovely ambient light made it feel enticing to just plop down and open a book.... or go to the bathroom.
Though I didn't go to the hot spring fed public bath house, I did go to the "Thermal Valley", a small valley where you can see and feel the sulfurous steam coming off the 90C lake from the hot spring. It is a popular place to take pictures, as you can see.