Sunday, January 8, 2012

sun moon lake: wenwu temple and gondola

First stop at Sun Moon Lake was Wenwu Temple. When the Japanese dammed the lake, two temples on the bank of the lake were submerged. Wenwu Temple was built to house the gods from these temples.
The temple hosts deities from Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism. I'm kind of ehhh whatever about temples now so didn't really pay much attention to them. Kind of like all the cathedrals and churches in Europe, after awhile they just start blending together. The coolest thing I liked about this temple was the cool architecture and that the fortunes came in English. 
Northern China palace-style architecture
So I got two fortunes. There was a fortune-telling machine in the temple that gave out fortunes in Chinese, English and Japanese.
fortune telling machine - the yellow scroll is my fortune
I also pulled a fortune-telling stick from a big container in front of some random deity statue. I made a quick wish, drew a stick and found the corresponding fortune in a cubicle. The scary thing is that both of my fortunes were very similar and that they were both super bad predictions. I'm getting conflicting feedback about whether the prediction will last until the end of the year or for one year. According to the information booths where the fortune interpreters sat, the upcoming Year of the Dragon is bad for people born in the year of the dragon and that they could help prevent misfortune, for a price of course. It's fun to get fortunes and believe in this stuff until I gotta pay for it, then forget about it.
bad fortunes
Both of them say that marriage will not happen for me. When I told my mom that heavens didn't want me to marry, she said this only counts until the end of the year so of course you won't be getting married. I told her I'm going to get another fortune in the new year and rub it in her face if it says no marriage again. I can't fight against the gods now can I?

The Stairway to Heaven is right across from the temple and before the highway was built, was the only way to reach Wenwu Temple. Visitors would take a boat to the pier below the temple and climb the steep stairs to the temple. There are 366 steps, one for each day of a leap year. The steps are inscribed with famous people's names corresponding to their birthday. Had to go and check out my birthday step and of course my birthday has to be early in the year which meant it was all the way at the bottom.
stairway to heaven
People could buy wind-chimes and hang it near your step. However most people just hung it near the top, I guess no one wants to walk all the way down just to hang their wind-chime. I wanted to buy one and thought there was an actual pier at the bottom of the steps that I could buy one. Unfortunately the steps just ends at a platform with a nice view of the lake, but no shops or anything and I wasn't gonna make the climb again so no wind-chime for me.
view of sun moon lake at the bottom of the stairs
Jumped on the Round-the-Lake bus to the Sun Moon Lake Station to catch a ride on the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway, which is basically a gondola. Honestly when I was on the gondola I was super disappointed. I was like why are we wasting our precious time riding this gondola?!? The view was super crappy because one whole glass panel was covered by One Piece advertisements and I couldn't see anything spectacular except for trees, no lake or anything!
The view from the gondola, wasn't very excited. When we got off, we learned there was absolutely nothing at the station except for the entrance to the theme park Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village which we didn't have time to check out. I would want to go at some point but not for the theme park but rather because one of my all time favorite Taiwanese dramas, Romantic Princess, was filmed inside the park. At this point I'm just wow what a waste of money and time. Good thing we didn't pay the full price ticket of $300 NT cause that would have just made me feel worse. Heading back to the lake, the view was definitely better because you could actually see the lake this time. The panels on the door actually slide up so use it to your advantage to get pictures without smudge and glare!
Nice view but not worth the money if you don't plan to go to the theme park. If you do plan to go to the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village, the gondola is free. However the gondola closes before the park closes so I guess make sure you get out of there in time or have a ride out of there...

The Details
Sun Moon Lake website: http://www.sunmoonlake.gov.tw/sun.aspx?Lang=EN
Wenwu Temple hours: open all day long, after 8pm use side entrance
Sun Moon Lake Ropeway website (english does not work) : http://www.ropeway.com.tw/#
     Cost: $300 NT
     Hours: weekdays: 10:30-16:00, weekends and holidays: 10:00-16:30
Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village website (chinese only) : http://www.nine.com.tw/
     Cost: $780 NT for adults
     Hours: weekdays: 9:00-17:00, weekends and holidays: 9:00-17:30

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