Taipei – Exploring Old Taipei

On our first afternoon and night we stayed in the Ximending area of the city with its bustling market and busy streets. We made our way to the Longshan Temple, soaking in the sights and architecture along the way. Longshan was first built, albeit on a smaller scale, in 1738. In addition to the beautiful carvings and sculptures this temple is a very important place of worship. The main deity is Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy and we saw many people praying and throwing down divining blocks. These are used to seek advice from the Gods, dropped whilst asking a question, the position which they land reveals an answer.

As the skies grew darker we decided to head for the four beasts mountains. I had a rough description of a night time viewpoint and dragged my two friends along to explore. The four beasts are said to resemble an elephant, tiger, panther and lion. Hiking here is fairly relaxed and easy as the peaks do not exceed 200m. We made it so far with the directions we had before we failed to find the last step. Eventually we gave up and followed our nose up some stairs behind a temple. Hey presto, we found our view! 
After enjoying the view we explored further along the ridge line before retreating back down a different set of stairs. Here we were greeted by a different temple which was to fully absorb us for the next hour or so. Songshan Feng-Tian Temple actually rendered me speechless. The intricate carvings on every surface, shining gold and sheer scale of the place. The aspect that really blew me away was the spinning cylinders of glowing deities, it was almost space age, a modern take on an ancient religion.

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