On May 3, I attended the Baosheng Cultural Festival at the Dalongtong Bao’an Temple. The highlight of the evening was at 7 pm, when they had a huge fireworks show and then set this ceremonial dragon on fire! This festival celebrates the Grand Emperor Baosheng’s birthday and also features traditional performances. The temple was packed with people making offerings and burning incense as well.
I also had the opportunity to attend the Dajia Mazu (大甲媽祖) Festival this year! This annual 8-day pilgrimage starts and ends from Dajia Temple, just outside of Taichung (台中). I started the day at Qingshui (清水) temple and followed 媽祖 to a few local temples. The whole pilgrimage, people line up to kneel (鑽轎腳) so that 媽祖 can pass over them, and they can receive protection and good luck if they ask for it. In 大甲, there was also a huge parade and lots of volunteer-made doors for the pilgrimage travelers!
Izzy (my roommate) and I went to Yilan to go to CongBaoBao (蔥寶寶) Farm this weekend! We booked our tickets on Klook, a convenient site for many activities like this. Our teacher walked us to the fields and showed us how to pluck the scallions, grabbing close to the root and gently tugging.
The second part of our 蔥寶寶 excursion was a scallion pancake (蔥油餅) cooking class! They gave us some pre-made dough, taught us how to roll it out and fill it, then wrap them up. The class was in Chinese, but they also live-streamed the instructor on the screens to make it easy to follow along. They were delicious!
Also popular in Yilan are capybara farms! We went to Zhang Mei Ama’s, which not only had capybaras, but alpacas, sheep, deer, tortoises, and even kangaroos. We were given a bunch of grass to feed the animals and could pet and interact with them as long as we wanted.
I also went hiking in Yilan around Wufengqi Falls (五峰旗瀑布)! I was looking for Yuemeikang Falls (月眉坑瀑布), but ended up getting lost and never finding the falls. I still enjoyed the hiking and views! The township of Jiaoxi is about an hour from Taipei, so it’s super convenient and could even be explored after school!
This weekend I also rode Maokong Gondola, which goes between Taipei Zoo and Maokong. It has some of the best city views I’ve ever seen! The whole ride to the top took 20 or 25 minutes, and on the way up, Carter and I had the cabin all to ourselves. The pagoda is shot from the gondola, right by the Zhinan Temple station. The entire ride was so peaceful and scenic!
I also got the opportunity to take a weekend trip to Alishan National Forest Recreational Area! Me and my friends left right after school on Friday and spent the night there. Alishan is famous for its sunrise “Sea of Clouds,” but the weather was very rainy so we enjoyed walking around the misty forest for an afternoon! It gave a mystical vibe to the woods, and we still enjoyed our time.
Right by Ximending (西門町) is a military oversupply store that stocks everything from backpacks to combat boots. My favorite thing was the patches they had! I ended up picking out two as gifts for some of my friends back home.
All around Ximending (西門町) is beautiful graffiti! Here is one of my favorite pieces my friend and I came across. It’s a beautiful area to walk around, and just try to spot your favorite murals. We found one alley where artists get to regularly come in and throw up fresh pieces, and we even saw some works in progress. What a great place for creative expression!