Taiwan Preview 7 – Tea Time

I’m just about to leave for the airport, so this will be the last Taiwan preview post, though there were still a couple more topics I’d hoped to cover.

There are teashops all over Taiwan. I’m particular to taro flavoured bubble tea, but a friend took me to a more traditional tea house the last time I was in Taipei. It was interesting to learn about the different tea varieties and proper preparation techniques. Unfortunately such a tea tradition is not part of the culture in which I grew up, and since that visit I’ve forgotten much the finer preparation and serving details. But as my friend mentioned during that visit, there’s more than one right way to prepare tea, and as long as you’re consistent about it and happy with the results, that’s what counts most.

In the first few images we’re receiving instruction by one of the tea house employees:

Taiwan Preview 6 – Kenting sunset

Sunset photos are kind of overdone, but I found this stretch of shoreline in Kenting quite interesting as the sun set into the view. Except for the first photo which was from a previous day, the rest of the images were made over a span of about an hour.

This is also the nicest beach area, in Kenting and kind of reminds me of Hawaii, both the weather and the general geography. But I’m told the beach is only open to locals or people staying at the resort that is located at the beach access point. Other parts of Taiwan have a different look than here, at least to my eyes. The weather was also a huge change from Taipei in March, where it was often in the mid-teens and raining, in Kenting it was hot with a nice wind off the water.

Taiwan Preview 5 – Taichung

OK, it’s not really shots representative of Taichung, but I found some interesting images around the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. I was somewhat surprised to find this kind of architecture and design in Taiwan, being something I would more or less expect to see in Europe or the Americas. But just like this kind of architecture and design in other parts of the world, it really excited my photographic senses. Unfortunately I got to the museum late in the day and didn’t go inside, but spent a couple hours hanging out on the grounds creating my own art.

Taiwan Preview 4 – Longshan Temple

As mentioned in one of the previous posts, the last couple times I’ve been in Taiwan I enjoyed visiting temples. When I was in Taipei for about a week two years ago, I spent most of a day at the famous Longshan Temple (also spelled Lungshan). It rained constantly that day, which made a good excuse not to be out wandering the streets, so I hung out until early evening and observed. Having been to a number of temples now, I’ve noticed that people there are usually quite focused on their prayers and not as easily distracted by a photographer as I expected. Maybe hanging around for several hours and the fact that Longshan is a significant tourist attraction visited by lots of camera-toting visitors also helped here. But I still always get a feeling that I’m distracting the people I’m trying to observe, and being a tall foreigner with a couple big cameras certainly doesn’t help me become inconspicuous, at least not in Taiwan. Over the course of my visit to Longshan, I was approached by a couple people, though they were more interested to find out what interested me about the temple, and by extension, religion, than to lay down any kind of rules. One was even kind enough to give me a small booklet about the temple.

By the end of the day I amassed about 1500 images, 1100 of those just from the temple, which made for a colossal editing session. It’s by no means the definitive Longshan photo essay, but considering I was there for maybe only six hours, I’m pretty happy with the results. BTW, The images are sorted in chronological order rather than in any special manner…

Taiwan Preview 2

Here’s a selection of images from a religious procession that passed where I was staying on the outskirts of Taichung back in April 2005. It’s the annual pilgrimage by the goddess Matsu and her worshipers from her home at Jenlan temple in Dajia Township (alternate spelling: Chenlan temple, Tachia Township). Here they stopped at a local temple in Dadu (Tatu). The experience was very loud and smoky thanks to the thousands of firecrackers exploding all around me and the burning ghost money. BTW, the first half of the temple photos in the previous post were made at Jenlan temple.

There’s a pretty good write up about the temple with photos by blogger Michael Turton here. And you can get some more background here, here and here.

Unfortunately I believe my trip this year will be too early to witness this pilgrimage again, but it’s definitely one of the events I’d like to document in greater depth if I ever spend a longer period of time in Taiwan.