Formosa – once more unto the breach

Hello Everybody!

I find one of my favorite things about living in Okinawa is the proximity of so many places that seemed so foreign and exotic when reading about them as a little kid in the middle of nowhere, upstate New York.

I find it extraordinary that I have all these opportunities to explore the world around me, to wander freely with my camera and take all my experiences home, gathered up like pebbles from a stream.

Lanterns outside a temple.

There is one thing I noticed last time I visited Taipei and that is, it is a place of color and people. Lots of people and lots of scooters. Between the crowded night markets and people pushing against you everywhere you go, it is an experience all it’s own.

Temple filled with incense and color.

I decided to hit a few more temples than I had the year before. It was Christmas last time I was there and I stayed in a different part of the city. This time I wanted to wander outside my comfort zone and immerse myself more fully in the flow.  I did not however get many names of places I visited.

keeping watch… a roof dragon
Nestled in the mountains outside of Taipei.
Outside looking in…
A temple guard

I also went in search of some of the more unique fruits to Taiwan. Yes they have fabulous foods, steamed dumplings, radish pancakes and soy milk soup ( I don’t recommend this at all!), but they have an abundance of fruit that is unique to this beautiful little island. Pictured below are a couple of my favorites. Yes mangoes are great but that wax apple had a texture that I had never encountered before. It was entrancing, I wanted more and more. The Buddha Head or sugar-apple the nubbly green fruit tastes like a delicate custard. These unlike the wax apples, can be found here in Okinawa and I will be buying many!

Wax apple, mango and Buddha Head…amazing fruits!

I took a cab ride out into the mountains to a water fall and a few more temples. My stomach is still recovering from the tight twists and turns and up and downs…but it was well worth it.  And there was a lantern festival…

Unfurling fern
Flowering tree reaches out over a waterfall…
irritated locals
bamboo forest
That is a big block of candied peanuts that she was using a wood shaver on!
Scaling a fish by the side of the road.
Street market vendor
The night markets before dark.
In a tight space

As it turns out, 80,000 people thought it would be a good time to be in Taipei to finish the celebration of the Chinese New Year…year of the Rooster.  And what better way to celebrate than to write your wishes on a lantern, set them on fire and set them free. It was quite a sight, but one or two did go up in flames…it was windy and precarious, but what the hell? You’re in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, surrounded by thousands of animated, excitable people… what could go wrong? Nothing as it turned out.

Lantern festival
Sending their wishes upward
Lanterns bearing wishes…

I returned back to Taipei, wandered around the streets for a few more hours, turned in that night and headed back to my lovely little sleepy Okinawa.

a little night music

I will definitely get back to Taipei, so much to see, so much music and light and color…and another blog is coming soon, my weekend trip to Fukuoka!