BONUS MATERIAL in this super long-winded post (third in the series of many!): Taiwan Celebrities -- Munching Max, Chicken Wing Wilbur and Coin-toss Corey!
Woke up a bit earlier the next morning to visit the nearby God of Prosperity temple just a stone's throw from Taiwan's main Jeet Kune Do Academy (doesn't ring a bell? Think Bruce Lee). Don't think its a common temple back home in Malaysia. On our way out of Taichung, Lewis brought us to Yong He to try their famous soy milk. A peculiarity for me having yutiao dipped into soy milk for breakfast. Even more peculiar was having taufufa made savoury by adding in yutiao, soy sauce and black vinegar. Really an acquired taste.
Next stop was Sun Moon Lake, the largest body of water in Taiwan. Supposedly, the east side of the lake resembles the sun, while the west side of lake well, resembles a crescent moon. Imposible to tell when you're on the ground really and I couldn't even tell from the maps. Hahaha. Lewis brought us for a short spin up the Lalu Sun Moon Lake Hotel, which used to be President Chiang Kai-Shek's favourite summer getaways and is now a luxury five-star hotel. Also went to take a look at The Church of Christ, a greek-style church that was used by President Chiang. At the foot of the hill, bumped into a couple taking their wedding photos. The main activity there was the lake tour via boat. Tourists hop from pier to pier, visiting all the sights. On the boat, there was a short introduction about Sun Moon Lake and they brought us close to Lalu Island, a small island in the middle of the lake scared to the Thao tribe (and was also recently featured in some idol drama).
Stopped at the Syuanguang Temple Pier first. Main attractions were of course the Syuanguang Temple and the famous tea leaf eggs (金门阿么茶叶蛋). Nothing to shout about at the temple, but I was lucky enough to catch sight of a cutie-- Munching Max. The picture is self-explanatory. Hehe. Syuanguang Temple is dedicated to Xuanzang, The Monkey's King's shifu and is supposed to contain a bone relic. But from the looks of it, I think its no longer there. KH and I also took the lonely Qinglong Mountain Hiking Trail, but stopped halfway to Cien Pagoda. Since SK didn't tag along on the steep trail, we could paktor for a while. Strangely, KH kept on mentioning about taking me in the forest, must be on his skank To Do list. :P. On our way out, we tried the tea leaf eggs. I was quite impressed by how easily the shell came off. Tasty, but a tad salty for me. Boarded the next boat and ended up at Yidashao, the more commercial area with shops and visitor center. Observed an interesting thing at the visitor center. A bunch of young tourists whipped out notebooks and started going on a rubber stamping frenzy. From that day onwards, I realized that many of the tourist atractions in Taiwan have such a thing, even at famous Eslite Bookstore.
Walked around town, getting our lunch here and there. The weather had started getting hot, so we shed all our scarves and jackets. Walked into a shopped selling liuli and we walked out with bags and bags of stuff. Goodness. They even managed to persuade us to visit their other two branches in town to get a free ceramic coaster which we did, but we also spent more money. Good marketing strategy. Along the way, we tried the famous Sun Moon Lake Black Tea at Tea 18. Truth be told, I wasn't impressed. Stopped at a crowded stall (a sign of good food) and tried the chicken wing stuffed with glutinous rice (check out Taiwan Celebrities: Chicken Wing Wilbur!). Once again, SK's effort to reduce the amount of pepper nd curry powder fell on deaf ears. Our guide asked us to try the bamboo rice (like lemang), but looking at the huge portion, we decided not to.
Nearby, was the majestic Wenwu Temple. Out front was the Stairway to Heaven, 366 descending steps, each representing each day of the year, with famous ceebrities birthdays. On both sides of the stairs were thousands wishing lanterns, each with a specific area of interest, e.g. studies, love, marriage and of course wealth. At the entrance of temple was three statues representing Fu, Lu and Shou, overlooking a large lotus poind. Visitors seemed to be treating it like a funfair attraction by throwing coins into specific bowls to get their wishes (check out Taiwan Celebrity: Coin-toss Corey!). One woman exclaimed:
"Crap! I left school a decade ago and I get "hok yip chun pou"!? (improvement in studies)"
The patrons of the temple are the Civil Saint of Confucius, the Military Saint of Guangong and General Yue Fei. Intricate stone carvings all over the place and they don't seem done yet. At the back of the temple with huge gilded wood panels lies a shrine where students pray for good results. Stacks of gold paper wrapped with exam schedules and student profiles can be seen on the altar. As we were taking photos there, a HK tour guide came in with her group and loudly announced:
"Those two must be students praying for good results!"
Thank you, thank you. The inner grounds went higher and higher, and the roofs were open for us to get a better vantage point of lake. Unfortunately, it was too glaring for me to get a good photo. Never thought I would spend so much time in a temple. Hehe.
P.S.: Bonus Item-- Tarzan's Bride at Wenwu Temple!