Sunday, September 16, 2012

Day 5 - Kaohsiung & Taichung

In the morning, I met a Taiwanese traveler, who was doing his round-the-island tour on his motorcycle. Coincidentally, he was a vegetarian too and he offered to bring me to a nice vegetarian place for breakfast. 

My Breakfast - Sandwich & Soya bean drink.
To my surprise, my new friend paid for everything. It was really nice of him - he gave me a ride & paid my breakfast. Taiwanese people are really nice. This one of those unexpected kindness I received while I was traveling. =)

My hostel arranged a car ride for me to go to Kaoshiung. As usual, it is a good opportunity to meet the locals. One of the passengers was a lady working in a hotel in Kenting, and she was on her way to Kaoshiung city to attend her college degree classes on weekends. She told me that it was tough to survive in Taiwan without a degree qualification, so she had to travel to the city (2hrs) every weekend to study. This is the typical hard working Taiwanese people.

I was told that job opportunity does not come easy in Taiwan. And there is a oversupply of degree holders (more than 80%) and the starting pay of a college fresh graduate is pathetic (NT 25000, S$1200, US$1000). There is a trend of young people trying to look for jobs in mainland China.

The other passenger is a young apparel stall owner in the night market in Taiwan. He told that the high speed train ticket from Kaoshiung back to Taipei (NT1,600, S$72, US$60) is too expensive, so he will take the bus. He would procure his apparel from a wholesale market and sell it in the night market. I felt that it is a tough business (low barrier to entry), but it shows me that Taiwanese are generally hardworking people.

Kaoshiung City

Fo Guang Shan佛光山

"Fo Guang Shan (Chinese佛光山literally "Buddha's Light Mountain") is an international Chinese Mahayana Buddhist monastic order based in the Republic of China (Taiwan), and one of the largest Buddhist organizations. The headquarters of Fo Guang Shan, located in Kaohsiung, is the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. The organization itself is also one of the largest charity organizations in Taiwan."

Bodhisattva Statues in the old temple

Grand and Beautiful.

These statues reminded me the importance of being compassionate.

The main hall in the old temple

Lord Buddha

The new temple (looks like a museum)

Buddha was starving himself and determined to find out the Truth of life for the benefits of all beings.
The temple uses new technology to share the life of Buddha. The background image changes according to the narration. 

 Beautiful Statue of Guanyin (Oriental version of Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva )
My favourite Bodhisattva of Compassion - The literal meaning of Guanyin is "Observing the Sounds (or Cries) of the World"

For those who are wondering why Buddhist temples have so many images and statues. It is not idol worshiping. However, it is more symbolic and having a physical image helps the practitioners to contemplate the qualities of these enlightened beings like compassion, wisdom, loving-kindness, patience etc... And hopefully, it helps the practitioners to develop the same qualities.

Statue of the Master Hsing Yun that you can take photo with.
(Not sure why he would want to have a statue of himself in the temple)

Art Gallery (Aka Sales Gallery) in the temple.
Looks like a modern museum.

The cab driver who drove me to the temple. I asked if he had visited the temple, he said that he didn't visit for a long time and would love to spend some time exploring the new temple. So I decided to make a deal with him (to take his cab back to the city) so that he could spend time enjoying the temple. 

Huge complex. 
A very rich temple.

There was traffic jam from the temple back to the city. I was quite sure that I was going to miss my high-speed train to Taichung (where my friend was waiting for me at the train station).

But sometimes in life, you just gotta try even though it seems impossible. I thought I was going to miss my High-speed-Rail (HSR) train, but I insisted on running all the way (with my big backpack) from the normal train station to the MRT station and into the MRT train cabin (10sec before the door closes). when I reached my destination, I ran to the HSR ticket booth and cut queue to get my reserved ticket and ran to the HSR platform. I got into the HSR train 30secs before it departs ﹣other passengers were smiling at me as I made my way through 4 cabins to reach my seat. I was perspiring and tired, but happy. :)

Feng jia Night Market (逢甲 夜市) in Taichung
I like it more than the Shilin Night Market in Taipei.

Stall in the night market

Delicious Oyster Omelette (50NT, S$2.30, US$1.90)
It tastes better & cheaper than the one in Singapore. 

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