[Photo Gallery:] Yuantong Temple hike, Taipei, Taiwan

We finally left the traffic behind for a quiet walk in some of the wooded hills just outside the city. A short MRT/bus ride took us to a calm but hot and humid hike that winds past and through some temple complexes. We started just after lunch and were surprised to find very few people on the trails (turns out most people go before breakfast when it’s not hot… smart!). Normally we don’t get this closed to people’s religious business with our camera, but there was hardly anyone around, and some that were around were snoozing or playing Chinese chess or pausing from their offerings to talk on their cell-phones. The lower part of the path was sprinkled with a few karaoke bars/shacks, neighbouring ones competing for noise pollution points. There were three main temple buildings we hiked around – I don’t know which ones are part of the same complex and which are separate temples. One was Buddhist, another Daoist, and apparently that distinction doesn’t mean very much to a lot of people who frequent them, at least when it comes to actual religious practices. One whole family was offering mountains of spirit money to one deity… their clothes and vehicle suggested they were upperclass. I have no idea how much that much spirit money costs, but it was by far the biggest single offering we’ve seen yet. Reflections from Joel on what we saw are here. Jessica’s reflections will be here when she gets around to posting them.

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