Saturday, September 17, 2011

Maokong Mountain

Weary of the hustle and bustle of the city, Amber and I decided to trek out to Maokong Mountain with her coworker Jesse.  Just outside the city, at the end of the brown MRT line, we boarded a gondola to ride to the top in style.  

Gondola with Taipei 101 in background

The gondola ride was smooth and picturesque.  I could do a lot of describing, but I think I’ll just post pictures instead.  That will save me at least 1000 words. 

Taipei from Gondola 
More Taipei


Taipei 101 towering above city

Maokong Mountain

At the end of the line, we walked down some random road in search of tea.  Maokong has a history of growing tea, but these days I think the big money is in selling tea and tranquil views to the tourists.  Happy to play right into their hand, we settled into a tea shop and ordered up some oolong tea, tea-infused rice, and a radish omelet.  

View from the tea shop 

I'm too tall for this table
After drinking our weight in oolong, we hiked further up the road to a Tianen Temple.  This is where we discovered the mammoth spiders that have haunted me ever since.  I swear, these arachnids are stealthy suckers.  I easily could have walked into several webs and been eaten alive, had I not been on hyper-alert the rest of the trip on the mountain.  Stephanie, you might not want to continue reading this blog.... pictures to follow. 

Along the road on Maokong 
Tianen Temple

Check out those fangs!!

Not an illusion.  It's really that big.

On the way back down the mountain, we stopped at the Zhinan Temple.  Also known as the “Temple of a Thousand Steps,” this temple used to only be accessible by walking up 1200 steps.  Luckily, we took the new-fangled gondola and then walked up a ramp. 

Zhinan Temple from the gondola 
Zhinan Temple

Zhinan Temple

More Zhinan Temple

As we were about to leave, I noticed that people were getting blessed inside the temple.  Feeling guilty about my heathen life, I hopped in line to be cleansed.  I sat down in the chair and closed my eyes while the Taoist man whipped something like horse hair all around me and then flicked water at me from a plant. 

Gettin' blessed
After a few moments, he called someone else over and asked him to translate a message to me: “Your body is unclean and you need to pray to be purified.”  Whaaaaaaat?!?  I thought for sure he was going to comment on how wonderful and bright my aura was, not that I was basically dead and rotting inside.  Why, Buddha, why??
He sent me over to another lady, who again prayed over me, and instructed me to drink some holy water.  Oh, and she said to be clean, I’d need to drink the water everyday and pray three times.  

Second cleansing.  Is that lady laughing at my impurities??
They blessed me again (this time it was more like a massage, so already, I was feeling more sun-shiny inside) and sent me on my way with the holy water.  

Be gone, demons! 
Holy water

I haven’t once remembered to drink my holy water.  I think I’d be more inspired if it tasted more like beer, and less like the sad sad reminder of my dark and scary heart. 

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