Monday, March 4, 2013
We squeezed in our last sightseeing of Taiwan before returning home and visited Chung Tai Chan Monastery in Puli, Nantou County in Central Taiwan. My dad and I hopped on the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) from Zuoying Station to Taichung Station where we met with my dad’s friend and his family. The same fun family that took us sightseeing in Taipei – A Day in Taipei. The bullet train ride from Kaohsiung to Taichung was about one hour each way and the cost was about $50 USD per person round trip. Nantou County was about 40 minutes away from Taichung and it was a beautiful drive. There was barely any traffic, there were clean spacious highways, surrounded by mountains from both sides. Everything was very green and the sky was clear and blue. Temperature was a bit cooler than Kaohsiung but comfortable and refreshing.
Chung Tai Chan Monastery is a fairly new temple and was completed in September 2001 but construction took a decade long. It is considered the tallest Buddhist temple at almost 450 feet (or 135 meters) and second largest monastery in the world. The largest monastery is Fo Guang Shan. The construction of this monastery took so long because they were very meticulous about every material used and craftsmanship. For example, they collected marble from 15 different countries and imported pure teak for their seven story indoor pagoda. The pagoda was built in the traditional way, without metal nails and screws. We arrived too late so I didn’t get to see the famous indoor pagoda. (Remember what pagodas are? Lotus Pond Pagodas)
This temple is very different compared to Fo Guang Shan. Chun Tai Chan has a huge building with seven floors! The very entrance to the temple has these ginormous doors and inside, there are four gigantic statues at nearly 40 feet high (or 12 meters)! As tall as the doors! Everything inside is very big!
The entrance is called the Hall of the Four Heavenly Kings surrounding the future Buddha.
Then, as you walk up the stairs, you enter The Great Majestic Hall, which is one of three Buddha halls. It is a red granite statue of the transformation of Buddha.
Chung Tai Chan has a modern feel and the outside design reminds of a temple from the movie, Aladdin. The gardens are breathtaking – beautifully decorated, quiet, relaxing, and solitary.
I caught a couple of pictures of a nun while she was exercising/meditating? She saw me and walked away. Sorry! I couldn’t help myself, she seemed so in the moment and she was right below the elephant statue from my view…
There is also a bell you can ring. Unlike Xiqiao Mountain in China, they don’t charge you here or at Fo Guang Shan to ring the bell. We all rang it three times. We did it totally wrong though. I remember at Fo Guang Shan, everyone would first vow, close their eyes, chant something, and ring the bell. Hello, tourists! Yes, that would be us. Even locals can be part of the tourists haha
Chung Tai Chan also has an amazing view of the mountains and there is a GIGANTIC Buddha statue that is clearly visible. The view is seriously unbelievable.
While we were there we met a couple of nuns and they were super duper friendly. They went out of their way to give us information on their California branch in Pomona: Middle Land Chan Monastery. I would love to go to their weekly classes but it’s over an hour away!
If interested or curious, this website explains Chung Tai Chan Monastery practices thoroughly: Chung Tai Zen Center of Sunnyvale.
After the monastery, we stopped by a delicious vegetarian restaurant that curves down the street. One of the people from the restaurant was passing out menu flyers at the parking lot and was very nice. The place didn’t disappoint, I fell in love with Taiwanese vegetarian food! So gooooood!
Well, I’ve been back to LA for a while now and I’m still eating meat. That’s a hard lifestyle change lol But I have the thoughts in my head… One day maybe?