I didn’t fear being out on that great expanse of ocean when headed from Hong Kong to that little green island called Taiwan even when the boat, in the roughest of seas, rolled and pitched. For the most part, the ocean was welcoming as it flickered between the radiant colour of sapphires. Other times, when rough and storm-tossed, the sea took on a shade so very much like snot green and the sharp smell of salt was everywhere.
Docked in Kaohsiung, a curious and surprising city with its melting pot of Han Taiwanese, Buddhists, Tao’s, expats and mainland Chinese we found our land legs before hopping a bus to take us to the small and pretty harbour of Gushan where we caught a local ferry over to Cijin Island.
Once off the ferry, you step straight on to Miaoqian Street which translated means, Seafood Street. Cijin Island is a seafood lovers paradise and although small, this islands’ huge draw card is its availability of the freshest of seafood, unrivaled in quality and variety.
It was a blisteringly hot day and the air was heavy with humidity, the smell of fish, gasoline and cooking oil but you could not help but want to wander the streets of this quaint, pedestrian friendly town.
Every stand of this seafood lovers paradise had food, cooked or raw, piled high with the friendly vendors absently shooing the slow flies away with a plastic bag in one hand and beckoning customers with the other. What I found most lovely however, was when in this distant land, that inexplicable familiarity of language barriers giving way to an understanding when talk turned to that of seafood, Australia and ice cold beer.
Joy in the realisation of cold beer and deep fried squid……
Given the amount of temples throughout Asia, very few ever make it to the ‘National Protected Relics’ list . The temple on Cijin Island and one of the oldest in Taiwan, a beautiful antiquity originally constructed in 1673 and restored during the 1920’s is however, an exception to that rule. This elegant site, with its lovely swallow-tailed eaves and protective Foo dogs is devoted to Matsu, the Taoist Goddess of Fishing and it became a protected site in 1985.
Back on the ferry and a cool sea breeze lifted the weight of the day……. and my damp cotton shirt which clung to me like a limpet. The heat in Taiwan seemed stifling with an intensity I had not expected but I could not complain as there was little which could dampen the pleasure of time on Cijin Island.
Enter the dragon…….
Some believe luck is something which is born unto you. Others use charms and talismans such as four leaf clovers or a rabbits foot to draw luck to them………lucky for them perhaps but not so for the rabbit! I am not a believer in luck per say for I cannot know for certain what makes one thing happen and not another. I do however believe in the beauty of Karma, in kindness, in compassion and in gratitude and I also firmly believe in not being a complete arse-hole is possibly the best luck of all.
So even if you are not one to believe in superstition or luck you really should, if you ever happen by the Zuoying District of Taiwan, try this lovely ritual which the Taiwanese believe will banish all bad luck and return you with good fortune.
Head to the Lotus Pond, a beautiful man-made lake blanketed in lotus to find ‘The Spring and Autumn Dragon Tiger Pagodas’. Run into the dragons mouth and follow the path to run out from the tigers mouth……bad luck or bad whatever you believe in be gone 🙂
This deeply peaceful and very beautiful site is dedicated to the memory of Confucius the Chinese philosopher, teacher and politician. His moral code was based on respect, kindness, family bonds, education and knowledge and his teachings became the basis for religion throughout China.
As you enter the temple, the largest of all Confucius temples in Taiwan with its majestic and elegant exterior, you are most welcome to write your prayer or a thought then secure it to the board. It is here, you will also learn of the life and philosophies of Confucius.
This was a deeply serene place and I could easily have spent many hours here and as Confucius says – Do not do unto others, what you would not want others to do to you……
This little sweet potato shaped island of Taiwan is a lovely place to visit and although I felt as though I had been there but a moment, you realise some moments are all you need really…….xx