It’s official, October 29, done with three weeks health check up – two weeks hotel quarantine and one week follow-up health checks with CEC (Central Epidemic Command Center) – I’m free to travel further now. Celebrating with a new friend, a foot reflexology massage and trying new things like a Shoujing ritual, and pickled Roselle flowers. Roselle is a species of Hibiscus probably native to West Africa. Here they use it in beverages, jam, candies, as herbal medicine. It tastes sweet and sour and pickled, crunchy, and quite pleasant. The old lady tells us it is supposed to have good cleansing remedies. Okay then 😊🤩😘 #lovingtaiwan
We visit the Hsing Tian Kong temple (or Hsingtien) in the business district of Taipei. It’s a busy early afternoon with people praying, lining up, studying, reading. Tilasmi explains some of what is going on and I’m fascinated. This temple is a little more business-like, not as “touristy” as i.e. Longshan Temple (which is also very much used by locals); people come here every day to pray, seek cleansing and mental and spiritual health. I find religion here integrated into life, temples or places of worship are found everywhere, literally holes in the wall sometimes, surrounded by everyday things – simply part of the picture, the culture. By the way, the majority of Taiwanese people practice a combination of Buddhism and Taoism often with a Confucian worldview, which is collectively termed as “Chinese folk religion.” Very inclusive (even of pigs). 🙂 Mengchia Qingshui is an old Buddhist temple and one of my favourites so far. Many more to discover!
“Modern medicine may be good for sore throats, but when it comes to matters of the mind, many Taiwanese turn to the temple.“
The ritual is Taoist and is known as shoujing in Mandarin. It is little known to anyone but those who are familiar with Taiwan’s folk traditions. At the downtown Hsing Tian Kong Temple, where the Taoist God of War is worshipped, every day, from 11:20am to 10pm, crowds shuffle forward in patient lines, waiting, one by one, to receive a cure or a blessing from a volunteer temple priestess. In each case, the entire affair occupies less than a few minutes. The priestess takes the name of her petitioner, and then, with a few esoteric gestures and a flick of the incense stick, she casts her spell.
The believers will tell you there is no need to list your symptoms, because the shoujing ritual is a catch-all–“It cures if you’re ill, and blesses if you’re not,” says the Hsingtien Temple on its promotional website. So potent is the ritual that, in extreme cases, the “patient” does not even need to be physically present. For those who are too old or too sick to go to the temple, all that relatives need to bring is something unwashed that the sufferer has worn–the soul inhabits the clothes of those who wear them, after all, and a suit of blessed clothes is almost as good as a visit to the doctor. Read more at Taiwan Today. I get in line, wait my turn, enjoy the experience and feel a little lighter – just embracing it all.
The evening holds a very different kind of experience…
Kaya and I join “Mahjong Madness” for beginners and have so much fun!!! I have watched people play this game and wondered about the beautiful tiles and rules of the game. It is -almost- all revealed, though we did not venture into the betting realm. For many this is a game of gambling, forbidden or not, and some of the tiles are very much related to this purpose. In Taiwan gambling is prohibited and we’re not interested anyways. Our host guides us step by step through a first round played with open tiles. And we all catch on quickly. It’s a bit like the card game Rummy – you collect runs and same kind. But of course there’s a whole lot more. The rules are fairly standard about how to draw a piece, rob a piece from another player, the kinds of melds allowed, how to deal the tiles and the order of play. The hardest for us non-Chinese speakers/ readers is shouting for the steals (Pong! Kong! Chow! Mahjong! – remembering which one is which) – so much laughter as we stutter gibberish; and the number characters are challenging to get in order (except for 1,2,3) – luckily we get to refer to a chart of explanations. I’m hooked! We’ve always loved playing games and this one tops many of them. Expect me to bring back a set looking for players! 🙂
It’s October 31, 2020 – Halloween in North-America.
Taipei Pride Parade 🏳️🌈 for the world on October 31, 2020 – what an event. Apparently about 130,000 people attend (last year it were 200,000). It’s colourful and there’s a lot of love in the air. Taiwan is doing it for the world!!!! Here is this year’s pride parade friends! It’s a lovely crowd. Let the photos speak for themselves…
Wow, what colours, what aliveness, what fun! We have pizza with friends, then the young ones are off to parties. I stop by a free concert at city hall, then ride my Youbike home along busy streets alive with night markets, shoppers, and the full moon. Thank you, Taipei!
Love is Love!