Thursday, November 3, 2011

lotus lake in kaohsiung

The last weekend my sister was here we rode the HSR from Hsinchu to Zuoying, which is a district in Kaohsiung and the last stop on the HSR, and it cost us $1200 NT for a hour and a half journey. Riding the train would be so much cheaper but it would take 5 hours to get to Kaohsiung. We didn't have the time to waste so the more expensive option it is. Kaohsiung is the located in the south of Taiwan and is the second largest city after Taipei. My sister's strong desire to visit Kaohsiung was based on Lotus Lake pictures. I wasn't excited to pay so much to see a city when Taipei is near us and so much cheaper to get to.

My first meal here was at McDonalds located in the shopping mall adjacent to the HSR station. The McDonalds english menu was laughable since only the meals were labelled in english but none of the individual stuff were. I wanted to order more than 6 chicken nuggets but couldn't since I didn't know if that was even offered. I had to take the McNugget meal. Then for my box of large fries and chicken nuggests I got one package of ketchup! There wasn't an unlimited public dispenser for me to steal from so I had to contend myself with that one measly bag. I don't know in what world one ketchup could cover all six chicken nuggets let alone a box of large fries. Never mind I forgot that I'm in a land where a woman literally patted and wiped each SINGLE fry before putting it in her mouth. If you're going to do that why even get the box of fries?!?! Leave it for people who really appreciate the grease, the Americans.

After that we met up with Brandon, the couchsurfer, who was hosting us for the night. He came with us to Lotus Lake, which is a man-made lake and a very touristy area. The first stop we made was at the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas. The first thing of note is that a lot of these pagodas and pavilions near the Lotus Lake don't really have much of a history. Most I believed were constructed in the last couple of decades and mainly for tourism than anything spiritual.

dragon and tiger pagodas
At the bottom of the picture are the lotus plants that this lake is named after. The dragon and tiger act as the entrance and exit to the pagodas. We climbed up the dragon pagoda for a view of the lake, didn't bother doing the same with the tiger one. A lot of the people felt the same since everyone would just exit via the tiger once they finished taking pictures. Surprisingly there wasn't that many people here. I'm so use to all the Taiwanese people traveling during the weekends and crowding all the tourist spots that it was nice not to have to fight with everyone else to take some decent shots.

lotus lake -  west side
In the foreground is the Spring and Autumn Pavilions that lead to the Wuli Arbor.  In the background is the Statue of the God Xuantian. Even further back is the Half-screen Mountain which got its name from its folding screen-like shape. I wouldn't know since I didn't get close enough to see it.

path from spring and autumn pavilion right across from ciji temple
In front of the Spring and Autumn Pavilions is a little area where turtles are kept.

little turtle island
We found this strange statue nearby which had a coin slot in it. We had no clue what it was for and thought the machine was a kind of ride...

fish statue
This machine was actually a fish food dispenser. We spent quite a bit of time feeding the turtles at the turtle island. Each of us even tried using our food to create a race to the rocky center but the turtles would get too distracted and none of us really won. So we just tried to gather a large number of turtles near us.

big turtles, little turtles, so many turtles!
Also nearby was a fortune-teller machine!

chinese fortune telling machine
In the machine is a little lady all dolled up. When you put $10 NT into it she goes into the temple and comes out with a fortune rolled up in a tube. She then drops the tube into the red box you see where there is actually a little pick for you to push the fortune out. The fortunes are all in chinese and I tried to get a TA at work to read it but he said it was too complicated.... Now who am I suppose to ask now?!?

Here's a look at one of the pavilions, not sure if its Spring or Autumn. There wasn't anything special about them. Even though it looks like there are several floors from the outside, there is only one and we just walked through it to exit...

spring or autumn pavilion
path leading to the wuli arbor
Further down the lake is the Statue of God Xuantian or Beijixuantian. The statue is around 22 meters tall and is located on the Beiji Arbor. The god-statue stands on a turtle and a snake and holds a star with seven stars. Under the base of the statue is the entrance to the Temple of Emperor Yuan. The temples walls are covered in these intricate drawings...

There are a gajillion temples on the west side of Lotus Lake if you just wander through the streets. However I didn't get my hands on a map of the area until later on in the day so I didn't know there was so much stuff to see. The weather in Kaohsiung is more humid than what we've been having in Hsinchu and my pants were literally clinging to me at the end of all this walking.

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