Two Years in Taiwan
Time Flies Like an Arrow
Taiwan is an ancient, beautiful land filled with many structures and edifices that predate Columbus' arrival to the New World.
The people of Taiwan are the island's true treasure. Having passed through economic and societal difficulty scarcely imaginable by the Western world, they have emerged a kind, generous, and joyful people.
Rowing through the Anping Canal in Western Tainan City, these training athletes are forced to endure the odor and ugliness of the polluted waterway. The only major roadblock to Taiwan's being considered a first-world country has been its outdated open sewer system.
Taoism and Buddhism constitute not only the two dominant religious systems on the island, but also much of the island's cultural and architectural heritage.
Where urban sprawl and skyscrapers do not dominate the tiny island, thick forests of bamboo spread themselves upon both mountain and the valley with great effect. Though silent and still in appearance, these ancient woods actually creak loudly with even the faintest breeze.
Many symbols are employed in the ancient architecture of the Taoists and Buddhists, the structures as a whole sometimes directing the pilgrim's vision upwards.
An old man and his blue fan.
Relieving the heat.
Creaky joints; a creaky chair.
There is a misconception that rice is the staple food throughout all of China. The truth is that wheat is far more prevalent in Northern China, rice being rarely seen; whereas rice is the dominant grain in Southern China. Taiwan, though an island in China's South, is culinarily the most diverse place for all Chinese cuisine with its Han Chinese population claiming roots from every province in China.
"Chicken egg ice; popsicles; a variety of flavors."
"If one repeats only the name of Amitabh, it will become the supreme, deep, and profound meditation."
Like the Taipei 101 in the North, the Tuntex Sky Tower in Kaohsiung—the largest city in Taiwan's South—stands as a symbol of Taiwan's advanced economy. Since it has 85 stories, the people lovingly refer to the imposing structure as simply "The 85."
People from all walks of life are allowed to enter the grounds of Buddhist monasteries, but therein are found the monks, people who have intentionally separated themselves from the 'walk of life.' As an outward expression of their inner devotion, they—man and woman alike—shave their heads and dress in the simple robes of their initiation.
"Water makes many Beds, 
"For those averse to sleep; 
"Its awful chamber open stands, 
"Its Curtains blandly sweep;
"Abhorrent is the Rest, 
"In undulating Rooms,
"Whose Amplitude no end invades,
"Whose Axis never comes."
-Emily Dickinson
Idol worship is a central feature of Taoism. This statuette, however, is a Buddhist image, designed for inspiration rather than adoration.
Taiwan is a place where old and new technologies meet in one highly contrasted scene. It would not be uncommon to see old people hunching in the manual harvesting of crops while a high-speed train of young people rushes past overhead.
What was she thinking? Where was she going?
Ancient Chinese medicine produces...
...Ancient Chinese folks.
The intrigue of Chinese characters. Even a set of old ads for a performing puppet group appears mystical.
I missed the outlines of clouds. But it was a small price to pay for the love and trust of the people.
Death is a very superstitious and taboo subject in Chinese culture. When possible, the number four is avoided due to its homophonic relation to the Chinese word for death. Graves, like the one seen above, are often formed with rounded edges due to the belief that spirits are deflected from the bodies of the dead by the curved lines.
Monks counting stones on the stormy shore.
風調雨順 "Winds suited, rains aligned."
Part of an idiomatic blessing for good crop weather.
A Taoist temple rises from the trees. Though unfinished, something seems intentional in its skeletal hollowness.
A tree dies in its pursuit of the ocean.
A man prays to his local Taoist gods as he kneels beside the lotus prayer columns. Each of the hundreds of pockets within the several columns has a figurine with a name written upon it, representing an ongoing heavenly petition for the person named. In this case, each name is that of a stillborn child.
Intentionally taken upside down, this portrait of an old tree demonstrates the beautiful, albeit hidden, symmetry of roots and branches. Perhaps coincidentally, this model of balance is located in the Taiwan Confucius Temple, a place where the wisdom of balance has been preached for hundreds of years.
Few images seem so prototypically Chinese as that of the old rooftops.
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
"The mind is everything.
"What we think we become.”
-Lord Buddha
Molten light flows through dark crusts of man's volcano.
The prison of the modern world has no bars; crowds clamor her doors to hide from the wisdom of the hills.
An outward monk is known in the world by his robes, but how does one find the inward monk in the world?
A temple stands to remind the world of nature, like a pond of reflection in a parched land.
The Keeper of the Flames. An old man stands guard at a small tourist attraction: a natural gas geyser that had been lit aflame.
A favorite local fishing spot in Southern Taiwan happens to be the exhaust port of a nuclear power plant. Ocean water is drawn into the reactor to cool the core and then expelled at high temperatures, which then appears light blue in color. Where the hot water mixes with the cool ocean, fishing is excellent.
An imposing monkey stands as the guard and sentinal to Heaven's gate at a Taoist model of Heaven in the Southern town of Madou.
The South China Sea and its golden-white sands.
The summers in Taiwan coincide with its monsoon season. Though providing some respite from the fervent heat of Taiwan's tropical summers, the moisture ensures that the humidity of the air is constantly hovering just below 100%. This combination can make for a long commute, even if its' just to the local 7-11.
Some livelihoods exist at the obscure intersection of poverty and beauty.
In my review, I have discovered that my time in Taiwan brought me two priceless gifts: "a love of God, and [a love] of all men."
"For hate is never conquered by hate.
"Hate is conquered by love.
"This is an eternal law."
- Lord Buddha
Two Years in Taiwan

Two Years in Taiwan

A compilation of photographs I took from my time living in Taiwan.


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