Wednesday, March 6, 2013 – Day 36
A gift from Amà.
如意 (rú yì) as one wants / according to one’s wishes
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
The day before our departure, we did last shopping and dinner with family. My grandma invited me to her bedroom to show me all her arts and crafts projects and old pictures she has. I was so touched that she invited me to see her bedroom because I know it is a very private place to anybody. Then, my dad came in too and I could tell he was also very touched. These are the type of favorite moments of my trip that a photograph can’t capture. But I thought I’d compile favorites of those memories that I did get a picture of in chronological order with a link to the corresponding blog post : )
Getting lost on our first day in Taiwan with my dad and walking around for 45 minutes following people’s directions was fun.
Spending time in the mountain, hiking and eating lunch with my aunt/her husband/grandma’s friends.
Our visit to my grandfather’s resting place and then enjoying a family outing biking at Sizihwan.
Spending the day watching my dad play golf and being his paparazzi.
Visiting hot springs for the very first time! This is also the only picture I have of just my granma and me (I think).
Dad and I driving around on the moped a few times (and getting lost).
After being stood up, my dad wanted to make it up to me (even though I was stood up by someone else) so we went out the whole day to Sizihwan with my cousin as our “tour guide.”
Seeing the Salvador Dali exhibition in Kaohsiung with my cousin was a lot of fun too. I realized that I have a tendency for abstract art and Dali is now one of my favorites.
Video of orchestra: Orchestra at Lotus Pond, Kaohsiung for Chinese New Year
Going out by myself to explore Lotus Pond was unforgettable. I enjoy solo-touring. I take my sweet time taking pictures and walking around.
The biggest adventure was finding Fo Guang Shan Monastery and spending the entire day by myself. One of the most unforgettable experiences in Taiwan.
Riding the Maokong gondola and finding out that my dad is scared of heights.
Having the freshest of them seafoods I’ve ever had!
Enjoying a yummy latte at The Peak in Hong Kong and taking in the 360 degree view of Hong Kong.
I got to see a more relaxed side of my dad and even karaoke’d with him and his friends. I think he’s fun to hang out with and I can see how his friends enjoy his company because he’s always down to do anything. But with family, we see a more serious side of him so this was another priceless experience.
During this trip, I found out my dad really enjoys biking. We rode the bike three times and each time, I would see a big smile on his face and him saying how much he missed riding a bike.
Sightseeing with my dad’s friends was fun. One of them got a calf cramp from walking up the stairs so my dad told him to sit on the floor and stretch his leg. Then, my dad kicked the sole of his foot hard and the cramp was gone. My dad starts joking around saying that he came to China just so that he could kick his friend. And what an expensive kick that was LOL Everyone was cracking up hard.
Seeing my third auntie (right) at night for dinner after she got off work was nice. On our day back from China, she came over to have dinner and I finally took a picture of her, my sixth auntie, and my dad.
One my most favorite things about my trip was seeing old pictures. I love all of them but if I had to choose one, it would be seeing my three oldest siblings riding one bike while my second oldest sister is hauling them lol
Lastly, visiting Chung Tai Chan Monastery was nice. But meeting the nuns was even better. Monks and nuns are so mysterious. They have such different energy than other people like us and I loved meeting them.
I only have one last post of my trip. I can’t believe I posted about every single day I spent there. That would be 36 days!
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?
Sunday, March 3, 2013
The day after we came back to Taiwan, we went shopping and spent quality time with everyone. I went through tons of old photos and I created a few collages. These photos are so precious. They are truly priceless.
I found a picture of my mom and dad when they were in about 18-20 years old. And here is me, a bit older than them but I thought it was interesting to see the resemblance.
Then, here is a black and white photo collage of my dad and his friends back in the day enjoying a picnic. Who would have thought? My dad never seemed the picnic sort of guy. He seems to be around 20-22 years old…
Then, my dad in his early 30’s. Already a daddy to three beautiful children, my three oldest siblings. This is around the time he met my mom. What a handsome couple they made : )
I found photos of my siblings as babies. Sooo cute!!
First, there were two munchkins.
Love between sisters, priceless.
Angry oldest sister hahahaha My dad said she was annoyed and didn’t want to take a picture. Then my second oldest sister couldn’t see because of the glare and didn’t want to take a picture. So then, oldest sister is giving her the stink eye hahahahahaha
Then, there were three munchkins.
Their innocence was lost and the three of them became a scary neighborhood gang, spear-headed by none-other-than my second oldest sister. She drove around the neighborhood showing who’s the boss. She also hauled all three of them in one bike with training wheels with her brute strength. But the real boss, was the oldest sister. She shows off her position in the clan by crossing her arms over.
The littlest of the three munchkins, grew up cuter and cuter. And now as an adult, he looks exactly the same with that mischievous look on his face. He’s a pacifist so he retired from the gang and he enjoys long strolls at the park while he picks flowers.
This is also another priceless picture in my collection. Grandparents when they were younger and a more recent photo in the middle.
If all I did in this trip was look at family pictures, then I would have been equally happy. I’m so thankful for having gone on this trip. I’ve waited so long to see the other part of my genes.
Better late than never :’)
PS: I only have three days of Taiwan posts left. Wow.
Friday, March 1 and Saturday, March 2
On our last day in China, we went to Xiqiao Mountain, which sits on a dormant volcano in Nanhai District, Foshan City, Guangdong Province. That’s a mouthful… Xiqiao Mountain has over 200 springs, nearly 30 waterfalls, nearly 50 caves, and over 70 peaks! I wonder why there were barely any visitors. There is so much to see here and it’s a very beautiful place.
We started our tour with issues at the very entrance. Apparently they check the driver’s license and it has to be a Chinese national. Otherwise, you cannot go in. Then they charge a fee per person and they take a quick picture of the car before entering. Once we passed the entrance, we began our drive up the mountain to our first stop: Nanhai Guanyin Culture Park.
Yet another gigantic Buddha statue – this one is over 200 feet (60 meters) high! It is of the Guanyin goddess as I explained back in my post on Self-Guided Tour of Lotus Pond. But this statue is the South China Sea Kwan Yin goddess. Even though I saw many temples while in Taiwan, I’m still amazed by them. I love the spectacular views from the bottom and from the top. They are both such different views. I love the tradition of burning incense, the ringing of the gong, the walk up the stairs as you get closer to the statue, and the small shrines inside the giant statue.
This park reminded of the Fo Guang Shan Monastery in Kaohsiung but a lot more compact.
After walking around the Nanhai Guayin Culture Park, we made quick stops here and there before heading back to Dongguang. It’s too bad we weren’t able to see the caves and cliffs though!
We made a quick stop to see the Leafless Well. It’s called leafless because although a tree is over the well, there is never a leaf inside it. But I beg to differ. There was a leaf in there… I have a terrible quality picture to prove it haha Also, there is a belief that if you drop a coin, it will hover on the top of the well before sinking slowly moving back and forth like a leaf. We tested it a few times, and nope. The coins all dropped immediately and sank straight down. My dad’s friends said that maybe it worked with the older coins but the new ones are too heavy. Hmmh… Possibly…
Then, we walked around a small neighborhood with no living person. Everything was either closed off with chains or it was abandoned and overgrown with trees and weeds. We made a final stop at the Sifang Bamboo Garden to see the famous square bamboo. Supposedly it only grows in that area of China. But I did my googling around and it appears there are other places where this peculiar square bamboo grows! ] And if you are wondering, the scientific name for the square bamboo is: Chimonobambusa Quadrangularis. You’re welcome ; P
I’m very sad I didn’t see more of China. There is so much to see there but it’s so intimidating because it’s so big, not a lot of people speak English, and it can be dangerous if you are not with someone who knows their way around. But I’m optimistic I’ll come back eventually to see more!
We returned to Taiwan the next day and we were all feeling down in anticipation of our departure back to our lives. My third aunt came by to see us and sadly, this is the only day we took pictures with her. She always brought us fruits and she is very sweet, quiet, and polite. All my aunts and uncle and dad look similar. My grandma has very strong genes! Now all my siblings and I look alike my dad, which means, we look like my grandma.
I only have four more days left of my trip to Taiwan. I can’t believe I came back a month and a half ago. Life moves too fast.