Sunday, September 30, 2007

Formosa, My Home

I live on the beautiful island of Formosa, otherwise known as Taiwan. Some people say it's an independent nation, others say it's China. While I certainly have my opinions on the matter, I will not be using this post to voice them. Consider this an introduction to Formosa, my home!

This is a picture of Taipei 101 from the rooftop of my apartment building. It used to be the tallest building in the world!

Sunset from my rooftop.

Later sunset from my rooftop.

A view of Taipei from 貓空 (Maokong). Taipei 101 towers in the distance.

Although people in Taiwan experience a great amount of religious freedom as far as government is concerned, most people are Buddhist or Taoist or actually a sort of combination of the two with a healthy dose of Confucianism mixed throughout. There are some Christians, but not many within the working class of Taiwan. If someone becomes a Christian, they often experience a tremendous amount of opposition from their family. This problem is magnified if the person who wants to convert is an only child, because the parents are worried that they will have no children to worship them when they die. In the picture, notice that someone offered a bottle of water to the god. I saw this at the top of a mountain that I had just hiked up, and I was so thirsty that I was seriously tempted to drink it!

Here's a woman worshiping a waterfall. This isn't to say that every Taiwanese person goes out and worships waterfalls, but I just want you to get a sense of the breadth of religious practices here.

A Buddhist monk collecting money.

A gateway to a temple in Southern Taiwan.

A typical Taoist temple.

This is a Taiwanese cemetery. You can see that they have tombs so that they can go and light incense for their relatives.

Now, away from religion and on to food. Chicken feet is a favorite snack of many Taiwanese people!

In Taiwan, vegetables are often eaten in a sweet form as a dessert. You may have tried Asian desserts that are "red bean" or "green bean" flavor. While I'm not a fan of those snacks, I am a fan of this -- sweet beans and sweet corn over shaved ice!

And if you ever decide to come and visit me, I'll take you to a night market like this one. It's a great place to experience what I would call the "real" Taiwan -- crowds, tasty food, bright lights, dodging scooters, and most importantly, interaction with Taiwanese people. From the food vendor to the Buddhist monk, to the family eating dinner. They all matter, and they all have an interesting story to tell -- so different from my own. There's so much to learn, it's overwhelming and beautiful and fascinating all at once. This is my home, Formosa.


  1. Cahleen;

    Your skyview is gorgeous! That sunset is particularly beautiful.

    My 8 year old daughter (princess Sunshine) is not "loving" the chicken feet on a plate, actually she is asking why you have a plate of them if you don't like them. ;-)
    Funny, what 8 year olds think.
    Personally I can't imagine a plate full of feet, of anything...but hey, I live in the country ;)
    Princess Sunshine was also greatly relieved that YOU didn't worship that waterfall or statue on the mountain. Me too!


  2. Kimmie,

    Your daughter sounds so sweet! I have tried Chicken feet, and I can't say I like them very much. I don't like pig feet either, a taste that Taiwanese people share with German people. I guess I don't like feet anything either!

  3. Oh thank you for this insight into Taiwan!

    How amazing!


  4. Your post and photos really makes me want to come for a visit. I am reading the book "Wild Swans" by Jung Chang about three generations of a Chinese family. It is full of history and detailed life/culture of China...a fascinating read. I really want to understand China, but to do so one has to understand the history.

  5. What a beautiful place! How long have you been living there? I'd like to visit you more often!

  6. Wow - your pictures were amazing and opened my eyes to Taiwan a little bit. More - more!
    I loved the sunset, had my eyes opened to faith and religion a little bit, and am feeling slightly queezy over the chicken feet. :)

  7. I love the view from your rooftop. I happened to see your blog while looking around. We adopted our youngest daughter from China 4 years ago and some of those pictures look quite familiar.
    Nice to have "met" you.

  8. All your pictures were so beautiful! I think you gave a good introduction to Taiwan.
    Do you have a picture of the more typical offerings at the temples? I always loved the pairing of traditional fruits and flower petal arrangements with 7/11 snacks.
    And show everyone some pictures of people burning spirit money!

    I miss you guys already and seeing the pictures of Maokong really made me nostalgic for Taiwan. Luckily I've got your blog to keep up with you!

  9. Thanks, everyone, for being interested in what's going on out here!


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