Saturday, July 14, 2007

Wasai---Temples in Taiwan

When I first arrived in Taiwan I was interested in all of the new and exciting things to do, and places to explore. When I was in college, and getting ready to come to Taiwan, I had learned a little about the temples in China. When my teacher taught us about them I was all ears. I have really wanted to see them in person, especially since I had seen so many in the movies while growing up. And when I heard that getting to one wouldn’t cost me an arm and a leg, I was even more excited.

My first trip to a big Taiwanese temple was maybe a few weeks after I first arrived. When we headed out to see it I was expecting something spectacular. Like in the movies, I imagined a huge and ornate edifice on a hillside, surrounded by nature and beautiful scenery. I was not disappointed by the structure of the beautiful temple we went to, but the location threw me for a loop. When we first arrived, I didn’t even see the temple, but only the open markets along the streets. Then, as we were walking through these markets we were all of a sudden standing in a beautiful temple. I was surprised that the people had built so many shops around it, so that you couldn’t even see the temple from outside.

At first I had mixed feelings about making the area around the temple such a busy place. It is very different from what I had imagined they would be like, and from what the temples in the movies had always looked like to me. In the United States most religious places are void of loud and busy atmospheres. The majority of our churches are in empty, clean areas, and the only people who are there are quietly worshiping. But since that first experience at a temple I have had a change of heart. I have come to appreciate the unique culture and excitement of the temples and markets that are so closely situated to them. It all adds to the interesting experience and culture of coming to Taiwan.

Submitted to Wasai Taiwan by: Ryan Barber

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