The first part of this blog entry actually happened on the day before, on April 19. I wanted to write about it, but it did not fit well with the blog entry on Dahu park. So I am going to write about it here. Jeff and I decided to go for a hike up another Neihu mountain trail on the afternoon of April 19. As we were nearing the trail head, we were passed on the road by an ambulance with its lights and sirens on. We did not think much about that, as ambulances go by frequently on the roads around here. We finally found the start of the trail that we wanted to hike, and we were surprised to find the ambulance parked nearby.
We watched as a group of young men with ropes, walkie talkies, a stretcher, and back pack full of medical supplies left the ambulance to hike up the trail ahead of us. Apparently, someone had been injured on the trail. We did not get to watch them bring the injured person back to the ambulance, as another crew had reached the person first, and taken them down off the mountain by another path. So this crew turned back and left. Still, it was good to see that, if we ever injured ourselves while we were hiking, the emergency responders are equipped and able to go up trails to rescue us!
We began our day on April 20 heading out to Guanyin mountain to see the raptors migrating towards the China mainland. Guanyinshan is the northernmost mountain on the island of Taiwan. It is located across the Tamsui river from Tansui, the northernmost district of Taipei.
For about three weeks in the spring, the raptors gather at Guanyinshan to catch the updrafts that will help to carry them across the Taiwan Strait to China. If you go up to the visitor center at Guanyinshan, you can see the migrating raptors during these spring weeks. Jeff and I wanted to see the migrating raptors, so we headed up to the visitor center at Guanyinshan..
There were plenty of bird watchers with their cameras and binoculars outside of the visitor center. But since it was a cloudy, overcast day, the raptors were not migrating anywhere! They were likely just sitting in the trees near the mountain top, waiting for better weather. We hung around and looked at the exhibits in the visitor center, hoping that the weather would change so we could see the raptors taking off on their migration. But after a while, when it began to drizzle, we gave up and headed back into Taipei.
We decided to stop and see Xingtian Temple on our way back to Neihu, since Jeff had never seen it. Xingtian Temple subway station is another station that has interesting art on display. There are ceramic Chinese opera masks on one wall of the subway station. There is also another wall with a sculpture on it that resembles the walls inside of many temples.
On the street outside of the temple there are many vendors who take advantage of the temple’s popularity to sell different food items and flowers that people can take into the temple as symbolic offerings.
Xingtian Temple is a popular temple in Taipei. It was constructed in 1967, so it is not a very old temple by Taiwan standards. This temple is situated on a street corner near the center of the city. It is a large temple, covering over 7,000 square meters.
According to one website, Xingtian Temple is the most-visited temple in northern Taiwan, attracting upwards of 10,000 people a day. There were many people there when we visited the temple, but not 10,000!
The entrance doors to the temple are very large, They are probably very heavy and hard to open, as well. They were closed, as people were entering the temple from a side entrance.
There was a rock on a pedestal in the front courtyard of the temple. Some people had placed offerings on the pedestal, and there were flowers behind it. There was a woman bowing and praying to it when we walked into the front courtyard of the temple. But there was no sign explaining the significance of the rock, and Jeff could not get a clear answer from the temple visitors when he asked about it. He said something about it being part of another temple somewhere.
Many people feel that Xingtian Temple is a very powerful, and so they come here to pray for help and seek divine guidance. The inner courtyard of Xingtian Temple was crowded with people praying when we visited.
This temple is unique in that it does not allow worshippers to burn “spirit money”. So they bring offerings of food and fruit instead, purchased from the street vendors outside the temple, as no commercial activity is allowed inside the temple. That is also unique, as temples usually have a place inside them where visitors can purchase incense, food offerings, spirit money, etc.
There are also no donation boxes anywhere, which is very unusual inside a temple!
This temple is devoted to Guangdong, a famous general who lived from 162-219 AD, during the Three Kingdoms period in Chinese history. Guangdong is worshipped as the God of War; since he was very loyal to his ruler and a great fighter. He was also very adept at managing finances, so he is also worshipped as the patron saint of businessmen
There were many people getting blessings from the older women in blue robes in the inner courtyard of the temple. I did not quite understand what was happening here either. But many people were involved and waiting in a long line to be blessed, and that is something I have not seen in other temples.
Xingtian Temple had an ornamental fish pond in one section of the building. I did not get to see any raptors on this outing, but I did get to see many beautiful fish!