Sunday, 23 December 2012

travel: Taiwan 2012 Day 9: Lugang, Taipei

Breakfast at T Hotel as per yesterday, then we said goodbye to Kaohsiung - the most south of Taiwan we went to for our trip this time.

Our next destination was Lugang, a few hours drive north from Kaohsiung. One thing came to mind about Lugang:

See to your left: temple; see to your right: temple, a few steps forward: temple, a few steps backwards.... .

You get the idea.

We went to the biggest and oldest Longshan temple in Taiwan, apparently it has been around for about 400 years. The details of the structure are striking with old wooden planks and fading colors, making it seem like it belong to an ancient era.

When we made our way to the biggest Mazu temple - a temple dedicated to the goddess Matsu/Mazu, we saw a procession of another temple's deity/god visiting the Mazu temple. What luck - this does not happen everyday, and I am glad to be able to see this kind of event.

Temples sometimes have to bring the deities/gods outside around town, be it for making rounds or for the deities' birthdays. For this occasion, temple that worships the same god (in this case Mazu) has to 'visit' the biggest Mazu temple. The idea is similar to 'visiting the main host whenever you are in their area' in human culture.

First, someone must 'set' a path for the deities using some firecrackers (the red dust become the path guide) and using a big brush made of some plants to 'sweep' the path for the deities.

Then another person acted as the deity's messenger. In this event, an older woman was appointed as one. See the barren back full of scars? She had to hit herself with various weapon - sword, nail club to name a few. When she did not feel pain anymore, that was the indication that the god was inside her. Seriously - even watching her was painful ...

The old man also acted as a messenger. I am not quite sure the complete reasoning behind the two messengers - perhaps one acted as a messenger on behalf of the 'host' deity, and the other on behalf of the 'visiting' god. The old man was topless - and it was a freezing and cold day - and kept burning himself all over with the burnt end of the incenses.

When the messenger gave the green light for the visiting god/deity to enter the host' temple, then all the deities were carried inside the host' temple.
They stayed for around an hour or so inside, allowing the public to pray, then they were carried away out of the host's temple to their own temple.

More pictures of the Mazu temple:

In Lugang, we also visited the old street and had some yummy food.

what a cutie... . btw, this is not considered 'yummy food' I mentioned above

old street crowd

Today is our last day with Grant Lee from RoundTaiwanRound, and I have to say, we have had such a great time with him, James, and Sylvia during our days with them. Our trip became so easy and relaxing, and we did not need to worry about bad food :).

Grant dropped us at Taichung HSR station for us to take the High Speed Rail to Taipei - it took around 50 minutes to reach Taipei main station.

From Taipei main station, we took taxi to our hotel, as we couldn't be bothered to work out how to reach our hotel using MRT, especially when lugging around our baggages. But before the hotel, I'd like to mention about our dinner first.

We had dinner at the interesting Five Dime Restaurant close to our hotel for the next 2 nights. We had: Japanese style cod & clam chawanmushi, Deep fried prawn with oolong tea leaves; Pork on hot stone; Deep fried king oyster mushroom with salty egg yolk; Chrysanthemum & lyci tea; and their signature Mochi.

Total Damage: TWD$1349 (includes their 10% service charge). The architecture and design of this place is something else - borderline between wacky and modern art, full of female figurines that certainly have neck problem and boobies that will put eggplants to shame.

Definitely not as demure as the figurine...

Our hotel is also one of a kind. Sato Castle's initial purpose was to provide couples themed rooms to do their 'business'. Now, public can stay overnight (obviously including us), although if you have family with small children, you might want to be careful to not let them play with the remote control... .

... . because, erm... free porn channel included.

And the location is actually quite convenient, although it is a bit far out from central Taipei. The hotel is very close to Miramar Entertainment Park - a massive shopping mall that is more famous for its giant ferris wheel. There are also imax cinema complex; and nearby, you can find foodrepublic - a well known foodcourt chain; and also carrefour and a-mart for your daily necessity.

The Hobbit is playing... So so so want to watch... .

Our room for tonight: Queen type - theme Spiderman (room 212)
Cost: TWD 4080

For guests staying for more than one night, you can choose a different room for every night. Check out latest by 12, and you can leave your luggage with the reception (gate booth), and come back at 6 p.m. to check into a different room. But as during busy period, availability is first come first serve basis, you  may not necessarily get the theme you wanted.
Still, I hope we will get another nice themed room tomorrow.

For Queen and King room, everything provided in the mini bar is for free. This includes some cup noodles, snacks, and various soft drinks.

Tonight, I feel like a child in a theme park. Yippeee!

Room has its own garage, for people who want to be discreet, they just have to check in through the gate and drive their own car to the chosen room

how awesome is this

leading to bathroom area

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