Saturday, 1 November 2014

台北霞海城隍廟 The City's God: Taipei's Xiahai Chenghuang Temple

台北霞海城隍廟

因為媒體宣傳,還有因為尋找人生另一半是一件很重要又令人頭痛的事情,位於台北迪化街的霞海城隍廟吸引非常多國內外民眾到此向月下老人求因緣。這部份常在美體上聽說。

這次採方時學到的是,原來小小兩個房間大的霞海城隍廟曾經有六百多尊神明。妙方說有一陣子台灣很多人相信拜什麼神或什麼神,就會中樂透,賭博就會贏,所以很多人在家裡就養了很多神。熱潮一過,不想養了,就把這些神明帶到妙裡,讓廟方照顧(與其說「棄養」,我們講「養老」好了)。而中國文革的時候有不少宗教文化也被破壞,為了找回這樣的文化和神明,台北的霞海城隍廟就分了四百多尊在這裡養老的神明,到那些中國後來又重建或興建的寺廟~

我覺得這一集跟雅立聊到最有趣的是,很多台灣人即使不信教,或是對宗教沒有很大的信心,還是會去拜拜。過年如果不用值班,我會陪我爸媽進行他們六十幾年來的例行行程,除夕夜三更半夜到松江路的行天宮,萬華的媽祖宮,和龍山寺,有時候還去關渡宮拜拜。我媽總是很多話要跟神明們講,所以我和我爸都很早就拜完,出去外面等。在國外長大,小時候幾乎沒接觸過這種拜拜文化,我就問我的博士老爸,「你是信眾嗎?你相信拜了就有用嗎?」。他就說,「搞不好會靈啊~」。真的是 "keeping an open mind."



The City's God: Taipei's Xiahai Chenghuang Temple

Taipei's Xiahai Chenghuang Temple attracts hoards of visitors every year to its tiny temple every year. Most of them are here to pray to the matchmaking god. Having experienced how difficult it is to find one's soulmate, I understand why these people come. This is pretty much common knowledge to people, but on this trip to the temple, I learned a couple of other interesting things.

At one point, there were more than 600 deities here. According to the temple staff, there was a time when a lot of Taiwanese people that believed if you pray to a certain god (which can vary for different people), you'll have a better chance of winning bets, gambles, the lottery, etc. so a lot of them brought idols into their homes. But when that trend passed, they wanted to get rid of these idols and decided to bring them to a temple to be taken care of there. Rather than calling them "abandoned," let's just say they were taken there to "grow old." During the Cultural Revolution, China lost a lot of its religious culture and temples and shrines, so when some of the centers of prayers were rebuilt or resurrected, Taipei's Xiahai Chenghuang Temple sent some 400 deities over to repopulate those temples.

I found Cédric Jouarie's observation of how a lot of "nonbelievers" pray, to be most interesting. Having grown up in the US, I understood very little about religious culture in Taiwan, but nowadays when I don't have to work during Chinese New Year, I accompany my parents on their temple visiting rituals late at night of New Year's Eve. For more than 60 years, they visit Hsing Tian Kong, Wanhua's Longshan Temple and Mazu Temple, and sometimes Guandu Temple. My mom always has a lot to say to people, including to immortal ones, so I usually end up waiting outside with my dad, who likes to get things done quickly. My dad is usually quite rational and scientific, so one time I asked him, "You believe in these gods? Do you really believe they'll answer your prayers?" His answer was, "It doesn't hurt to pray. You never know." Like Cedric says, people here "keep an open mind."


20141025 霞海城隍廟 千里姻緣牽紅線


The English version (about the same as the Chinese)


Friday, 25 January 2013

Floating heart 野蓮(水蓮)




Canon Kiss X3
EF-S 17-55/2.8 IS USM
Aperture


美濃特產「水蓮」也叫做「野蓮」就是這樣洗的。一條可以長達200公分,很長,清洗起來很麻煩。所以菜農都穿著青蛙裝,泡在大水池裡面洗。

These women are cleaning an aquatic vegetable commonly called "floating heart." I had the most difficult time finding the English name for this vegetable. It's not very commonly found, but it's grown in several places in Meinong, Kaohsiung. People usually just eat the stem, which can grow as long as 200cm. They're usually cut into 5cm long sections and then stir-fried. A little crunchy and quite fibrous (thus healthy, but not bad tasting). Since the stems are so long and difficult to clean, farmers get in chest waders and do the sorting and cleaning work in pools of water waist high.

This is probably one of the least tasty ways to eat floating heart: long and tied around a package of dumpling filling wrapped in a sheet of rice noodle.


Canon Kiss X3
EF 100/2.8L Macro IS USM
Aperture


And a snippet of how it's harvested (at 2'04''):
http://youtu.be/q0psrzKHmsM?t=2m4s


Thursday, 2 August 2012

Struggling! Aughhhhh!!!


Struggling! Aughhhhh!!!


I am writing to help myself figure something out.


Recently I have been struggling with myself. I am finding myself incredibly boring and driving myself (and probably others) a little crazy. The situation is a bit alarmingly sad. Less than ten minutes ago, I just googled “how to be more interesting.” My goodness.
I’ve enjoyed photography for a while, but I don’t feel much like taking pictures these days. Sometimes it’s because I can hardly keep my eyes open and my mind on what I am supposed to be doing. Other times it’s because I feel so frustrated that my pictures are starting to look so boring. I don’t even want to print and frame them for my walls anymore. Gasp.
For my very incredible job, I get to travel all over Taiwan (and sometimes to other countries), and I appreciate very much that part about my life, but other than work, I have nothing else to think or to talk about. So I guess my life is not boring. Rather, *I* am boring.
Perhaps with the travel features somewhat under control and the basics of photography more or less in my grasp, I could use some new goals.
So if that’s the problem, what’s the solution?
Well, I don’t think I should do anything with the travel features since I just got the hang of them. But for photography, perhaps I can look for different ways of expression. Also, I would really like to read and get together with friends more and go back to studying sketching and woodblock printing. Yes, my new goals. Well, old goals that I am once again revisiting maybe.
Ah, now I can sleep. Good night!


(below are sketches from...a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...)