Looking more like a lake than a pond, Lotus Pond is Kaohsiung’s relaxing getaway inside the city. It is an entirely man-made body of water with over twenty bizarre looking temples surrounding the waters edge. It gets its name from the fact that it is almost always coated with a layer of lotus blossom. This is where Laurie and I decided to spend our second full day in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. It was the Taoist Beiji Xuantian Shang Di Temple that caught my eye online. After a bit of research we were off on the KMT, Kaohsiung’s metro system, to Zuoying Station. We arrived at the station and opted to walk to the park rather than wait for a bus. Initially we regretted that decision but we were relieved to find the park after only a twenty-minute walk. The challenge for us starting late in the day was that Lotus Pond is really a very large lake. To fully appreciate it you really need a whole day.
That said, we bypassed the Confucian Temple and made our way directly to the Taoist Beiji Xuantian Shang Di Temple which has a huge painted statue of the Emperor of the Dark Heaven.
The Beiji Xuantian Shang Di is a remarkable Taoist temple that resembles a giant warrior. This 24 meter tall statue is known as The Supreme Emperor of the Dark Heaven and Guardian of the North. He is said to watch over the residents of the region and also for his ability to cure illness and drive away evil. Built by the Ming Dynasty in the 1600s, the fearsome sculpture remains in remarkable condition after several recent renovations. The following video is shot on my iPhone without a microphone for sound.
There were arcade like boxes in front of the statue. Place in your money and you get your good fortune!
We were able to go inside the temple to see an interior housing a collection of antique works of art from several former empires. This was our first time in a Taoist temple.
There was an additional place of worship on the second level.
Emerging from the temple we were really touched by the environment we found ourselves in. We paused to reflect and then started back on the path.
Next we came across the Spring and Autumn Pavilions. These were completed in 1951. In front of the pavilions is a statue of Guanyin (Kuanyin), the Goddess of Mercy, riding a dragon. According to legend, Guanyin(Kuanyin) appeared above the clouds riding on a dragon, signifying that believers must erect an image depicting this event between pavilions of summer and autumn: The present-day structures are a result of this vision. We didn’t go into the pavilions however we did go through the dragon. It was hot, sticky, filled with the smoke of incense burning at small alters along the length of the dragon.
It was getting late so I was relieved that we were in time to tour the Dragon Tiger Tower. Dragon Tiger Tower is a temple consisting of a pair of colorful and modern pagodas looming over Lotus Pond. The dragon’s throat is the entrance and the lion’s mouth is the exit. Entering a dragon’s throat and coming out a lion’s mouth symbolizes turning bad luck to good fortune. Inside, paintings depict China’s 24 most obedient sons as well as scenes of heaven and hell to inspire people to do good deeds during their lifetime, and to provide threatening examples of retribution for wrongdoing.
After the Dragon Tiger Tower it was time to head back to our airbnb. We like it so much that we committed to stay all ten nights of our time in Taiwan in exchange for a reduced rate. We caught the bus to the KMT and were back at Drum Fang (airbnb) within an hour. Hungry, we grabbed some delicious Taiwanese food at a restaurant across the street. Look at the dinners we bought for only NT$210. ($6.46 US).
The next day we caught the KMT to Costco. I need hearing aids and I wanted to see if I could get Costco hearing aids at a better price here in Taiwan. I was disappointed to find out that they are almost the same price. However going to Costco in other countries is really fun. They carry and sample different items. they keep their price points about the same so here in Taiwan that means that only families with above average incomes can shop there. Costco was packed! It was interesting to see how people lined up so patiently to wait for their samples. Sometimes the lines were over twenty people long.
After traveling now for over a month Laurie was so excited to see Costco Pizza!
Walking back to the MKT (Kaohsiung’s Metro) we came across a small local night market. The fish was amazingly fresh and the food carts were tempting but since we were full from Costco pizza and samples we decided to eat later .
While browsing we came across a black chicken. I had seen one before so I was really curious about it. They are called Silkie Chickens and you can read about them here.
We headed back to our room and decided to stop in to what has become our favorite local dumpling restaurant, Four Seasons. It is managed by Yao Wen who always has a nice word and a smile.
Next blog post will be about our two-day adventure in Tainan, Taiwan 🙂