In Taiwan’s subtropical climate aerial tree roots are a common sight. I am always fascinated by the sheer tenacity of these roots as well as by the intricate patterns they form, which are truly works of art. Whether it is jagged coral rocks or parched ground, the words “retreat” or “quit” don’t seem to exist in their vocabulary, only “holding on” and “not giving an inch” and going on the attack. It is little wonder that the metaphor of roots is so often invoked when we speak about strength, persistence, personal and spiritual growth and many related themes.
Like tentacles of an octopus these roots overpower the stone wall.
Weekly Challenge: Textures
Please see related post The Indomitable Spirit of Banyan
Sea salt production in Taiwan goes back hundreds of years. Surrounded by the oceans and with plenty of sunshine, the plains on the west coast offered suitable conditions. During the Japanese occupation in the first half of the 20th century and after World War II Taiwan was a major salt producer. From the 1980s on production gradually declined as salt farmers found it difficult to compete with cheap imports. Today only a few salt fields remain, mostly for educational and historical purposes.
The corrosive effect of salt creates some interesting textures on the vintage salt mining equipment.
Posted in Weekly Challenge: Textures
Taiwan’s second largest city, Kaohsiung, is often called the “Ocean Capital”, because of its large port and proximity to the sea. Besides the ocean it also boasts a large lake and a river that flows right through downtown.
As a fun way to see the sights and sounds of the city the government launched amphibious buses that navigate the various roads and waterways. The locals call them affectionately “duck buses” and they have been a great hit with visitors to the city.
Down by the Riverside
On the Love River passing a cafe
Weekly Challenge Post
Nobody quite knows how it started, and there are several competing stories. But somebody or somebodies in Taiwan got the idea to combine traditional religious temple parades and its deities with techno and pop music, and at the same time bring the costumes up to speed by adding huge sunglasses and other paraphernalia such as scooters and quad bikes to give an overall jolly, upbeat appearance.
The idea spread like wildfire and these colorful characters and their cool moves are now a popular feature at many religious as well as non-religious events.
Posted in Weekly Photo Challenge
Posted in customs, festivals, folk religion, Kaohsiung, religious life, Taiwan
Tagged costume, culture, dance, parade, techno, tradition
If you search online you will notice that there are a number of photographers who are fascinated by doors and capture them in every shape, size and color. There is something intriguing about doors and the mood and attitude they project. A lot has been written about the symbolism of doors from a spiritual and psychological angle and I won’t repeat that here. To me doors are also a kind of calling card of the person(s) living behind them, showing a glimpse of their character and personality. Judge for yourself.
Weekly Photo Challenge: Collage
I was taking a morning walk in the large park that surrounds the Kaohsiung Fine Arts Museum when I spied a great white heron parading gracefully through the shallow waters. At first I thought he was on a morning walk like I was, but noticed how he kept a sharp eye on the water. Moments later I realized why. Luckily I had my camera with me to capture the following sequence.
It’s a highly sought after and tasty vegetable in Asian cooking. Its tensile strength is comparable to steel and it’s a great material for building houses and furniture. It holds the world record for the fastest growing plant on earth. Thomas Edison used it as a filament in his light bulb. It’s a grass but people call it a tree. It was the only surviving plant in the terrible heat and radiation of the Hiroshima bomb.
Bamboo is still widely used in Taiwan, from chopsticks to sky high construction scaffolding, from toothbrushes to bicycle frames, baskets and kitchen steamers. Finally there are few things as calming and relaxing than a stroll through a bamboo forest, with the tops swaying gently in the breeze.
Here is a glimpse of the many faces of bamboo.
A man ducked into a city church one late afternoon taking a brief look at the architecture and stained glass windows. As he turned to go the usher told him, “Wait till the lights go on.” His curiosity aroused the man sat down in one of the pews. After a little while the street lights came on, in an instant transforming the nondescript building into a place of glorious light and colors streaming through the stained glass windows.
Something similar happens to some bridges when night falls. The gray concrete structures crossing the river, which during the day are filled with rush hour traffic and exhaust fumes, when night falls are changed into creatures of light casting a pretty reflection into the dark waters below. Since the human eye tends to focus on that which is brightest, we enjoy the shining bridges while ignoring the less pleasant dim surroundings. Here are a few photos that will hopefully help to illustrate the point.
The Love River in Kaohsiung by night.
A modern bicycle and pedestrian bridge
Pleasure boat on the Love River
Bridge to the Five Li Pavilion at the Lotus Lake
A motivational speaker who wanted to warn about how bad habits or vices start out small told the following illustration. In the old days of bridge building they would first tie a thin thread to a kite and then fly it to the other side of the river. Once it landed there they tied a slightly thicker string to the thread and pulled it back to the other shore. This went on many more times until finally a strong steel cable could be pulled across the river, the first part of the bridge.
I am reminded of that story when crossing one of the numerous suspension bridges in Taiwan’s mountainous regions where many of its indigenous people live. These bridges look rather flimsy and sway up and down and back and forth when crossing, but they are actually quite strong and the local people drive their motorcycles across them without hesitation.
This fall image reminds me how transitory things are. Some leaves are still green, some are turning yellow, others already brown. But all of them are fallen and will eventually return to the earth. Like the scripture says,”You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing.”