Saturday, July 7, 2012

Scooters for sale!

So we were 2 months away from leaving Taiwan, and it came time for us to start advertising our scooters for sale.

I was very saddened by the prospect of having to part with Excalibur and the Juggernaut. They had both served Amanda and I well. We’d had a mix of great adventures and terrifying near misses on both scooters. Nevertheless, Amanda and I would both miss the freedom, independence and convenience that they provided us while we were in Taiwan.

When we first arrived, friends advised us to “get a scooter as soon as you can, it opens up the city and makes life so much more enjoyable.” They were absolutely right, and I would absolutely pass on the same advice to anyone new to the Island.

As it happened, we ended up selling the Juggernaut to an ESL teacher that had been in Taiwan for a while and was looking to upgrade. I hope he’s still enjoying it!

Excalibur met a less fortunate ending. I did find an ESL teacher that was new to Taiwan and wanted to buy the bike, but unfortunately when I went to the motor vehicle bureau to get the bike transferred into her name, it did not pass some kind of inspection. The inspector tried to communicate with me through a series of hand gestures, grunts and repeating the words “light, no good, must change”. I tried exchanging hand gestures, grunts and showing him that the headlight was in perfect working order, but didn’t seem to have any success getting my point across, or understanding the point he was trying to make. I think maybe it was the wrong type of headlight for that bike. Transfer of title unsuccessful, I ended up having to give the scooter back to the shop from which I bought it and I pretty much just got scrap value for it. More than likely the whole issue of it not passing the inspection as well it only getting scrap value from the bike shop had to do with us having been in an accident where a taxi t-boned us by doing a u-turn in the middle of the road and quite badly damaging the scooter. Given that we came out of that incident unscathed, I’m not too bitter that the only consequence was us losing out a few thousand NTD when it came time to get rid of the bike.

Excalibur: Rest in peace. She might not have had a very high top speed, but swift and nimble, she could get going off the stop line with one heck of a kick! 
The Juggernaut: Strong and sturdy. Many an adventure had we t'gether. May ye serve well your new master and carry them safe t'wherever tis they go.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fó Guāng Shān 佛光山

It took a couple buses to get to Fó Guāng Shān from Kaohsiung, but it was well, well, well worth the trip. We would absolutely recommend that anyone on a trip to Kaohsiung tries to make time to get out and visit FGS.

While some people are appalled by the notion of referencing the web information source, Wikipedia, “since it is not a peer reviewed credible source of information”, but in this case I have absolutely no qualms doing so… nah nah na nah nah!

So, according to Wikipedia:
"Fo Guang Shan (Chinese: 佛光山; pinyin: Fóguāngshān; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Hu̍t-kong-san; 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. The order also calls itself the International Buddhist Progress Society. 
Founded in 1967 by Venerable Master Hsing Yun, the order promotes Humanistic Buddhism, a modern Chinese Buddhist thought developed through the 20th Century and made popular by this and other modern Chinese Buddhist orders. Humanistic Buddhism aims to make Buddhism relevant in the world and in people's lives and hearts. While Hsing Yun is a Dharma heir in the Linji Chan (Chinese: 臨濟宗; pinyin: Línjìzōng) school, his stated position within Fo Guang Shan is that it is an "amalgam of all Eight Schools of Chinese Buddhism" (his stated position within Fo Guang Shan is that it is an "amalgam of all Eight Schools of Chinese Buddhism" (八宗兼弘), including but not limited to Chan. In this sense, it is a monastic order, and not a doctrinal school of thought per se. This is the case for much of Chinese Buddhism, as the lineage of the founder or Abbot does not necessarily dictate the thought or practices of members of the monastery limited to Chan. In this sense, it is a monastic order, and not a doctrinal school of thought per se. This is the case for much of Chinese Buddhism, as the lineage of the founder or Abbot does not necessarily dictate the thought or practices of members of the monastery."

Do you have to appreciate Chinese Mahayana Buddhism in order to appreciate Fó Guāng Shān? No. It is a spectacular site, in a spectacular setting, with a well laid out Cultural Center that has a lot of interesting information - and with good English translations.

Amanda and I both agree that we would like to go back to FGS one day for a second visit and we would likely take a full day so that we can spend ample time between the Monastery and the Temple.

We didn’t get to the Monastery and in some portions of the Temple you aren’t allowed to take pictures. Some of the most spectacular architecture and decor that we saw in Taiwan was in the temple at FGS.

If you get a chance to go, take it!

Fo Guang Shan Temple
Fo Guang Shan Temple
Fo Guang Shan Temple
Statues at Fo Guang Shan Temple
Wooden carving inside Fo Guang Shan Temple
Depiction of Hell inside Fo Guang Shan Temple
Depiction of Heaven inside Fo Guang Shan Temple
We had lunch with Milton & Jenny at Fo Guang Shan. Being a Buddhist site, naturally the lunch options were all vegetarian.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Canada Day Weekend in Kaohsiung

Did we ever mention how much we like Kaohsiung. Well we do. We like it a lot. So just one week after Dragon Boat Festival, we were back again.

On the Saturday, we visited Kaohsiung’s Cultural Center in Lingya District with our friends Milton & Jenny. It was a beautiful day, and so we also enjoyed a nice walk around the surrounding park.

That evening, Milton & Jenny recommended we take a look around the Dadong Arts Center (大東藝術中心) in Fengshan District. There was some kind of free live music performance while we were there, for which a crowd had gathered. The building architecture and lighting were also very unique and made the visit worthwhile. Definitely best visited in the early evening so as to see the building lit up at night.

After Dadong Arts Center, we hopped on the MRT, had a quick stop at Formosa Boulevard Station to take some pictures of the Dome of Light. Then it was on to Aozidi Forest Park, where we walked to Foster Hewitt’s Pub to meet our friends Stanley & Vicky.

The following day, we rose early and joined Milton & Jenny on a trip to Fó Guāng Shān Temple (佛光山寺). Fó Guāng Shān is an amazing place and worthy of a post dedicated to itself, stay tuned.

Kaohsiung's Cultural Center
Dadong Arts Center
Dadong Arts Center
Dadong Arts Center
Formosa Boulevard
Formosa Boulevard
Aozidi Forest Park Entrance to MRT Station