Posted by: atarimonos | October 15, 2008

Ma-Tsu

After a brief hiatus I’ve returned from my jaunt to Ma-tsu Islands Beigan and Nangan. What a difference, rather than surrounded by polluted air, thousands of civilians, and land. I found myself encompassed by sea breezes, lots of military, and the ocean. Beigan and Nangan are places to retreat from the world, check out a few temples, and simply slow down your pace of life. On Friday I left Taipei on a little 2 prop plane for the sleepy island of Beigan. Let’s put it this way, my compatriots and I scootered around the entire island in under 3 hours … and that’s with stopping at nearly ever temple, village, and observation point. Saturday produced more the same but at a much slower pace. I also had my first experience with fish noodles (they’re exactly as they sound … fish pulp with a little wheat). I have to admit that they were delicious. I usually don’t enjoy fish (special exemption for Salmon), yet the noodles were a treat. On Sunday, we hopped a ferry to Nangan, about double the size of Beigan’s population … which really isn’t all that much to begin with. There is also a heightened military presence on Nangan. It’s an odd thing to be woken by a military convoy of tanks, APCs, and Humvees. Nangan is home to the temple of Ma-tsu, one of the oldest temples in Taiwan and home to her primary goddess. For the religious studies enthusiast I found myself having a grand old time taking pictures and parsing Ma-tsu’s story from the numerous reliefs carved into the temple walls. On the ferry ride home I glimpsed mainland China. The Ma-tsu island chain is almost the closest place you can see China without actually stepping on China and still be in Taiwan (beaten out by the island of Kinmen). On Monday I caught a flight back home and descended into the fast pace of the real world, much too much fast for my liking. I’ll post pictures soon. I’m still a little exhausted from the hike about the islands. One more thing, happy belated birthday to my grandmother, she’s 92. Also, happy early birthday to my cousin Soph. Remember you’ve got folk thinking about you on the opposite side of the world. Cheers.

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