Now’s the Time! Cherry Blossom Season in Full Swing @ Sanzhi 三芝!

Yes, it’s peak time for the Cherry Blossom (Sakura) Season here in northern Taiwan, and Sanzhi is THE place to come!  It’s warm and sunny too – so get here quick!  Lots of people are here every day walking along the mountain roads or along the San-Sheng Trail 三生步道 by the river to enjoy all the variations of pink blooms on offer, and not just cherry blossom but also tons of flowering azaleas. The local government has planted 15,000 cherry blossom trees in recent years, and they are all in flower now.  In fact, the dark pink cherry blossom are nearly over, but the light pink ones, the sakura, are out all over.  And they’re out much earlier than last year (see last year’s report here – written at the end of March 2017, 2 weeks later than this year).  So come and see!  Come and see that Sanzhi is not just famous (sorry, infamous) for it’s miserable non-stop rain all winter, but also for it’s beautiful flowers!

It’s also planting time in the fields and local people are busy.  Water oats / Water bamboo (茭白筍 Jiao bai sun) are especially grown in Sanzhi, and the farmers have a particularly muddy job!

This was the San-Sheng Trail this afternoon…

Beautiful eh?  Yes, Sanzhi is a great place in spring  ~ and especially now.  So do put it on your itinerary to come and see for yourselves!

Praying for the World…

But where to start?!  It’s quite a task to take on ‘praying for the world’ ~ so on Saturday night at the St. James’ Church Youth Group in Taichung, we started with, well, where else to start, but, of course, Taiwan!  And we prayed around the Tropic of Cancer for all 16 officially-listed countries, one of which is Taiwan.  Interestingly, many of those countries are very arid and dry ~ the Tropic of Cancer actually passes right through the middle of the Sahara Desert.  And the highest mountain on the Tropic of Cancer is …… (drum roll here)… Yushan in Taiwan!

Anyway, each person took a paper out of a box, with the name of one of those 16 countries on it.  We re-ordered the circle so everyone was sitting in order of their country’s location on the Tropic of Cancer.  Then we spent a very quiet 15 minutes absorbed in our cellphones finding out info to share about that country and using that info to write our own prayer ~ and so we prayed around the circle, each country lit by a candle…  I had the Bahamas, and y’know it’s quite some country, and I knew nowt much about it beforehand!


Partly inspired by the Chiayi Lantern Festival, which also takes the Tropic of Cancer as a theme with all the 16 countries listed and their locations…. and partly related to today’s Gospel reading which includes John 3:16: “For God so loved THE WORLD that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”  Hey, that’s good news for us and for the whole world!

So pray on, and pray for the world!

Happy Year of the Dog ~ Taiwan’s Lantern Festival 2018 @ Chiayi!

A major extravaganza is on down in Taiwan’s south central city of Chiayi.  If you get a chance, GO!   Every year, a different city or county is chosen to host Taiwan’s main lantern festival, and every year, thousands and thousands flock there from all over the country to attend.  Including me.  I love to go!  This year it is the turn of Chiayi.  And what an extravaganza it is!


Last year, the Year of the Rooster, the main lantern festival was held in Yunlin.  The year before, the Year of the Monkey, it was held in Taoyuan.  Both of those were held near to their respective High-Speed Rail Stations (HSR), partly so lots of people can then get there easily, plus the HSR Stations are built so far out of town that there’s huge amounts of unused land nearby and it’s ideal for a major event like a lantern festival.


This year, Chiayi has also made the most of its High-Speed Rail Station, and shuttle buses run to and fro every evening transporting people to the lantern festival site at Taibao, not far away.  But this year what is special is that the lantern festival site includes the National Palace Museum Southern Branch, which was only opened in 2004.  It is truly amazing!


We went on Saturday afternoon, the second day of the event, and stayed on until the night.  We walked through the lantern festival area in T-shirts, it was so hot, under blue skies.

But blue skies are hardly any good for a lantern festival – which needs darkness!  Anyway, we passed through the lantern area, and ended up at the National Palace Museum Southern Branch.  Along with thousands and thousands of people.  And guess what?  The museum was open, and from 3:00-9:00 pm, entry was free as long as you ‘like’ the museum’s facebook page, then that ‘like’ could be exchanged for a free ticket.  What a treat!  This was my very first visit, and I was not expecting to get free entry into the museum.  Inside it’s beautiful!  It’s not too big, so you can get round it quite easily.  Wow!

Then the sunset behind the museum….



And a light show!

We moved down to the museum main entrance where there was an incredible performance going on, already started so we missed the first part.  Never seen anything quite like it.  In the dark too.  A crane had suspended in mid-air what looked from a distance like a sort of chandelier.  It turned out that each of the so-called ‘lights’ of the chandelier contained a person, and they threw out all sorts of streamers, balloons, confetti, smoke, as they moved around to the music ~ and then from the central ‘light’ out came a small ladder and a woman, dressed in red, appeared – who danced and acrobat-ed herself in mid-air.  The whole performance was done as the crane moved them all up and down and round and round.  Quite terrifying to watch.  And down below were a man and woman dressed like in the Victorian-age, all in white, and they were singing like opera-style music. Really powerful stuff.


Turns out that they are Theater Tol, based in Antwerp, Belgium, performing ‘Garden of Angels‘:

“Lightness and joy are the most important themes of this show. Garden of Angels is about a wedding, in which the beloved couple eats each other, dances, flies. They are in love and surrounded by good company: musicians and creatures out of fairy tales.


The performance is inspired by history, where the bouquet of flowers originally consisted of a bunch of strong spices, to expel the evil ghosts and bad influences out of marriage. The big present for the newly-married couple in this performance are the angels: the protectors, the dreamers, the wise ones. The audience is the guest at the wedding. In that way the angels don’t only bring the good things for the beloved couple, they move the guests and let them be touched by their positive energy as well.

Theater Tol brings this spectacle of fire, heat and sensuality. The world of animals, fantasy and people merge. A fantasy world of lovers, dancing animals and angels descends from heaven.”


Quite amazing.  We were seriously impressed!

And then to the main dog lantern which revolved around once every 30 minutes, and took 3 minutes to do so, accompanied by lights and noise and zillions of spectators….

After that, well, we had enough time to find the churches lantern area, and as always the RC Church could be relied on to produce interesting lanterns, this year we had the pope, Jesus, Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus, Mother Teresa and St. Valentine….

There was not much time left for us to see many of the smaller lanterns.  But we saw enough.  Lanterns everywhere, all shapes and sizes.  Actually the theme, as well as being the Year of the Dog, was all about Chiayi being on the Tropic of Cancer, so the latitude number 23.5º was much in evidence, and other countries that are also on the Tropic of Cancer were also part of the show.  Then we also had all the different areas of Chiayi represented in lanterns, including the High-Heeled Shoe Church that we had visited at Chinese New Year….


And Alishan, famous for its cherry blossoms. Plus there were international sections, religious sections, different people groups, lanterns made by schools of different ages, and industries and companies based in Chiayi.  Something for everyone.

As always, the local government did an amazing job with the logistics and everything worked like clockwork.  There was a constant stream of shuttle buses and even though we joined a line that must have been several hundred people long, we only had to wait about 10-15 minutes to get to the top of the queue.  Incredible!


So congratulations to Chiayi on an incredible lantern festival!

And a big welcome everyone to the Year of the Dog, woof woof!

Taiwan’s Badlands @ Tianliao Moon World 田寮月世界, Kaohsiung

This place is really quite something!  And it’s quite something because this kind of scenery, called ‘badlands’, by definition shouldn’t really be here at all!  All the other badlands in the world occur in places where it’s dry.  Really dry.  So dry in fact that little or no vegetation can grow anyway.  Thus, ‘bad land’.  Usually found in arid or semi-arid climates, like the Badlands National Park in South Dakota, USA.  Taiwan is the only example in the whole world of badlands in a tropical climate.  And tropical climates are anything but dry.


So we have the curious phenomenon of completely bare and eroded steep slopes, ‘badland-style’, but down in the valleys, there’s lakes and abundant vegetation – including banana trees…..

According to Wikipedia, badlands are “a type of dry terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded by wind and water. They are characterized by steep slopes, minimal vegetation, lack of a substantial regolith, and high drainage density. They can resemble malpaís, a terrain of volcanic rock. Canyons, ravines, gullies, buttes, mesas, hoodoos and other such geologic forms are common in badlands.”


So there you have it.  Check out this article about the Taiwan Badlands and you can read all you need to know about Taiwan’s Moonscape Scenery.


Taiwan’s badlands are extensive throughout Taiwan, but the best area is in Tianliao, in Kaohsiung, known as Tianliao Moon World.  You’d be forgiven for thinking this is some kind of amusement park.  Rest assured, it’s not.  But if you go at night, the slopes are all lit up in different colours.  And of course there are many restaurants nearby, mostly selling chicken.  There’s a moon sculpture and a sundial too…

The reason for the place becoming popular in recent years is that when Kaohsiung City and County merged in 2010, money became available for developing Tianliao Moon World into a place where people could walk and enjoy the scenery.


Paths were built, steps were constructed up some of the steepest slopes, plus they built rest areas and toilets.  There’s also a visitor centre, where a very nice warden answers questions, and there’s a display of maps and old photos. 

We were there last Thursday.  Blue skies and hot sun.  Good job it was spring and not summer otherwise we’d have keeled over in the heat.  In summer, go early in the morning or late in the afternoon.  Take the Kaohsiung MRT to Gangshan South.  That’s quite a station in itself….


On weekends and schooldays there’s lots of buses from there to Moon World.  But on weekdays, buses are much fewer, and last Thursday, rather than waiting an hour for a bus, and possibly not getting there until midday, instead we took a taxi, and the 3 of us paid a quite reasonable NT$ 600 in total.  Set price.  We got there at 10:30 am and it was already really hot.  The bare slopes are all south-facing, and get the full force of the sun – so we did too!

Two hours is enough to see everything and go everywhere.   We had a great time.  I loved it.  Then we had a delish chicken lunch, that was good too.  And the nice warden at the visitor’s centre gave us ice-lollies to cool off while we waited for the bus back to Gangshan MRT.

Definitely worth a trip.  Such amazing scenery.  And at the bus stop, there’s an incredible bougainvillea bush, all pink.  Stunning eh?!


What a great place!  A must-see, must-go kind of place.  So do go.  It’s well worth all the effort ~ and the heat!

A Big Welcome to: 台灣聖公會第58屆教區年議會 The Diocese of Taiwan 58th Annual Convention!

St. Paul’s Church, Kaohsiung was THE place to be this past weekend, as we all gathered ~ clergy and lay delegates from all over the Taiwan Episcopal Church ~ for our annual diocesan convention.  Every year this major event is held on the first Friday and Saturday of March, and this year it was hosted by St. Paul’s Church.   Last year the 57th annual convention was held a week earlier to fit in with the visit of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, and it was held in a very very wet, cold and windy Taipei.  The weather was 100% miserable. We still had a wonderful time of course, and were inspired, challenged and encouraged by Presiding Bishop Michael’s sermons and sharing. But good weather we did not have!

But this year, wow, what a huge difference!  We had sunshine and blue skies the whole time.  And for Kaohsiung, hey, that’s quite something, given the major problems the city has with pollution and poor air quality ~ but there were no obvious problems on Friday March 2 and Saturday March 3.  Sun ~ YES!  Blue Sky – YES!  High Temperatures – YES!  Happy People – YES!  And here we all are!

Furthest away – but almost first to arrive – was Rev. Justin J. M. Lin and the group from Trinity Church, Keelung, they had left at 5:00 am that morning to drive to Kaohsiung ~ and they arrived smiling away!  And then nearest away, there was Rev. Richard R. C. Lee, who arrived from nearby St. Timothy’s Church on his bicycle…

We gathered from 9:00 am onwards in St. Paul’s Church for registration, organized by our very faithful and dedicated diocesan secretary, Mr Yang, and, as always, supported by his very cheerful and lovely wife, Yang Mama!

Bishop Lai had arrived the night before, along with our two VIP guests from the Episcopal Church, Canon Peter Ng (below left) and Rev. Canon Bruce Woodcock (below right).  Peter has recently retired, and Bruce has taken over from Peter as ‘Partnership Officer for Asia and the Pacific’, based in New York.  Actually,  they had come to Taiwan a week earlier in order to visit some of our churches, and also St. John’s University.  Bruce is no stranger to Taiwan though, as he visited us several times while he was working for the Church Pension Fund in years gone by.  We were delighted to welcome Peter and Bruce, and really appreciate all their wisdom, advice, encouragement and support.  Both spoke about how much they enjoy coming to visit us in Taiwan, where the Episcopal Church is so much like a family. And Bishop Lai presented them each with an Artillery Shell Cross (notice Rev. Peter Chen photo-bombing in the background!)….


Rev. Cheng Chen-Chang and the church members of St. Paul’s Church, led by Mr. Lee and Mr. Di, did an amazing job of organizing the practicalities of the convention, and together with other churches, they provided lots of yummy snacks during the refreshments breaks.  Thank you!  This is Mr. Di (left) and Mr. Lee (right) with the new St. Paul’s Church banner….


The opening service was held at St. Paul’s Church at 10:30 am.  Each church had their own banner, and they all gathered with the clergy outside for the procession….

And so the service started….

After the sermon, we were delighted to welcome some of the children of the St. Paul’s Kindergarten who came in to sing a chorus.  They were just so gorgeous!


And so the service continued with the confession, sharing of the peace and Holy Communion….

After the group photos outside, off we all went to a nearby hotel for lunch and then the start of all the official meetings.  We had speeches, discussions, reports etc etc ~ which lasted for the rest of Friday…

We heard from Rev. Joseph M. L. Wu (below right) and Mr. Yang (below left) from St. Luke’s Church, Hualien, about their experiences in the recent earthquake and how they are helping out in supporting the local people as they recover and rebuild their lives, businesses and community…


We also heard about the purchase of a new building that, once remodeled, will become the new Christ Church, Chungli.  And with Bishop Lai approaching  mandatory retirement age (72 for bishops in the Episcopal Church) in 2 years time, Canon Peter Ng in his summing up spoke to the clergy of the diocese, telling them that one of them in due course would be elected as the new bishop, and exhorting them and the lay members of our churches to work together in unity to support each other in this process.  This is a major item for prayer for the Taiwan Episcopal Church as we go forward.

On Saturday morning, we had a presentation from St. John’s University President Peter Herchang Ay, and more discussions, speeches, elections, summing up and prayers.  Oh, and photos too.  Photos galore!

After we concluded the formal proceedings, the Standing Committee met to decide on their next meeting…..


And so we finished with lunch on Saturday.  And as it was Bishop Lai’s official birthday that day, so Mr. Di presented him with some tea, always Bishop Lai’s favourite!


Thanking God for a meaningful, thoughtful and stimulating convention.  Please do pray for us all in the Taiwan Episcopal Church as we continue to minister to our congregations, and reach out to our communities to share the Gospel.   To God be the glory!

Chinese New Year 2018!

Ah yes, and as with every Chinese New Year, food featured highly!  Food, food and more delicious food.  YUMMY!  For most people, the New Year celebrations revolve around family reunions, gatherings with old friends, temple visits to pray for blessings for the new year, preparing food offerings and worship at the family ancestor shrine, and of course the enjoyment of meals and delicacies of every kind.  Many people also take the chance to travel, but just as many people say they can’t face the traffic jams and prefer to stay home.  Meanwhile those in the tourism and transport business work from morning to night, making the most of the opportunities ~ or just busy, busy, busy, after all it’s high season.  And red is the colour to be seen everywhere, whether in decorations in homes, hotels and businesses, or in the new clothes that everyone wears, or in the red envelopes that are given or received in every home.  Ah, red, a great colour!  In Chinese tradition it symbolizes blessing, good fortune, happiness.  Yes, I love red!

Of course, we were all too well aware of the tragedy of the recent earthquake disaster in Hualien, and of those who were killed, injured, bereaved, made homeless or with damaged homes and businesses.  Hualien is a major tourist destination for Taiwan people at Chinese New Year, and even though local government leaders and those involved in the tourism industry wanted people to continue with their travel plans where possible, in fact many cancelled.  This had a knock-on effect for the whole of the east coast, and Taitung too was relatively free of people, and therefore also cars, which meant less traffic jams.

The most important meal of Chinese New Year is that of Chinese New Year’s Eve, when the whole family gathers together, and sons and their families return to the family home.  I’d been at St. James’ Church, Taichung all the past week, and my good friends there, the very lovely and welcoming Wang family kindly invited me to their home for the New Year’s Eve meal, where mother, father and 2 daughters were busy preparing all kinds of goodies ~ home-made everything!  All very very delicious and very beautifully served.  Thank you!


On Chinese New Year’s Day, last Friday, we set off from Taichung heading south.  ‘We’ is my good friend, Ah-Guan and her daughter, Yaling.  Ah-Guan had kindly organized everything, she is really great fun for traveling with!  We were heading for Tainan.  First stop was Chiayi County, Budai Township 布袋 to see the High-Heeled Wedding Church. This is quite some landmark.  ‘Church’ it is not.  Or maybe it is.  Cross, there isn’t.  And no services planned.  It is actually a photo-shoot location for couples taking their wedding photos, as is the tradition in Taiwan, a few weeks before their actual wedding.  Built to make your wedding photos look like you’re in a kind of dreamworld, Cinderella-style.  Actually I like it.  Not all the cute photo-op things around, but the actual glass monument itself.  It’s very bright blue and very shiny, made of glass.  Hey, every town needs something to draw people in, and well, Budai has a bright blue high-heeled church!


But the story behind it is one of tragedy.  This coastal area of SW Taiwan lacks freshwater, and in the 1950’s, people dug deep wells to get drinking water, which unfortunately proved high in heavy metals, especially arsenic. Long-term consumption of arsenic causes poor circulation and eventually can cause the feet to turn purplish-black (from gangrene), thus known as ‘Blackfoot Disease’.  The only solution was amputation.  This caused a huge amount of suffering at its peak in the 1960’s. One local girl had to have her feet amputated just before her wedding, so the wedding was cancelled and she spent the rest of her life being taken care of by the church.  Blackfoot Disease therefore denied her the chance of following the traditional Taiwanese custom of stepping over the fire-pan on her wedding day, symbolizing leaving her old life and starting a new one.  As the bride would be beautifully dressed, she would also be wearing high-heeled shoes on her wedding day…..


The church mentioned in this story is the Presbyterian Church in Beimen District 北門 (don’t confuse this Beimen with the Beimen in Taipei City), the next area to Budai, though actually in Tainan County.  We visited Beimen next.  The most famous local resident was Dr. Wang King-ho 王金河 (1916-2014), who dedicated much of his life to treating patients with Blackfoot Disease at his clinic there, now a museum.

“An outbreak of Blackfoot Disease began in Beimen in 1956, and Wang partnered with medical professionals at National Taiwan University to research the disease. Missionary Lillian Dickson moved to Beimen in 1960 and opened the Mercy’s Door Free Clinic, which was funded by her organization Mustard Seed International, with Wang as head physician.  Hsieh Wei, a doctor based in Puli, Nantou, would make weekly round trips to perform amputations on patients at Mercy’s Door.  After Mercy’s Door closed, Wang returned to his own clinic before retiring in 1996.”


The museum is well worth visiting, but I will spare you any photos of the preserved amputated feet that are on display.  Gross is the word.  Sorry, but it’s horrible.  Not for the squeamish, like me.  Slightly more bearable are the old medical instruments that were used, but the tools like the saw, and the operating table and the old photos make it all very gruesomely horrific.

Beimen also has a new ‘church’ to add to its tourist attractions, this one a Crystal Church 水晶教堂.  We went there too.  And the old Beimen salt washing workshops, now converted into a visitor center.  And we loved the ‘Money Coming’ 錢來也 Grocery Shop (Qianlaiye), built in 1952 originally as the cafeteria for the salt workers ~ what a great name for a shop!

And then we went to Jingzaijiao Tile-paved Salt Fields 井仔腳瓦盤鹽田, the oldest salt-field in Taiwan, started in 1818.  This is quite an amazing scene!

The nearby houses are quite beautiful…

And so to Tainan 台南, where we stayed at Grace Church, with our good friends, Rev. Philip Ho and his wife, Nancy and daughter Kathy.  They were so so so good to us!  Yes, great home-cooked meals and kindness galore.  They also had planned our itinerary so well, Philip driving and Nancy really ace on where to go and how to get there.  And they love posing for crazy photos… we took many like this!


And this….!


The next day, we were up bright and early for a tour around the area, including the bird reserve famous for the black-faced spoonbills. Actually we didn’t see any of those, but we saw plenty of others of the species listed, including Avocets, Caspian Terns, Curlews, Sacred Ibis, Redshank and all kinds of herons and egrets. We also met some of the wardens who help to staff the reserve and they were so keen to let us look through their telescopes and tell us the birds we were looking at.   Philip used to be a biology teacher, so he knows all the plants, animals and birds too.  A great field-guide!  Actually, there’s less than 3,000 black-faced spoonbills in the whole world and about two-thirds of the world’s population spend the winter in the Tsengwen River estuary, Tainan. But the tide was out, and so were the birds!


So off we went to see lots of other interesting places, ending with a visit to the site that was St. Michael’s House in Tainan (opposite the Tainan Theological College,) which since the house demolition some years ago, is now used as a large vegetable garden, for local people and church members.  It’s a little oasis in the midst of the big city!

On Sunday, we went to the service at Grace Church, where Philip is the vicar.  The church is on the site of the Grace Church Kindergarten, and they have a very wonderful and very friendly congregation!

Their flower arrangement, combining Lent and Chinese New Year was beautiful!


I was especially pleased to meet Rev. Samuel Liao, one of our retired clergy and his wife and family.  He is always so encouraging and cheerful, and loves to hear updates of the Anglican Church in England.  Hey, all of us are in red, or shades of it!


A great service, and a group photo.  Or two, since some of our friends came a bit late and missed the service.  We met lots of old friends.  Ching-Ping, former teacher at St. James’ Kindergarten and her son.  Also Christopher, my colleague here at St. John’s University, his wife Linda and family, along with Linda’s mother who lives in Tainan.  And here they all are.  As it was Chinese New Year, there was no lunch after the service, but we had coffee and plenty of chat!



And then it was time to say goodbye to Tainan.  Philip and family kindly took us in their car over to the east coast, Taitung 台東 for the next 2 days.  Taitung has the most wonderful coastal scenery in the world!  Blue skies and high mountains too.  And home to many of Taiwan’s indigenous peoples.  This journey took many hours to get there, so we stopped for the evening at the famous Chihben (Zhiben / Jhiben) Hot Springs 知本溫泉 area, and went to the Hotel Royal where we had a yummy dinner and the extra blessing of watching the traditional dancing of the Beinan (Puyuma) People, oh and fireworks to finish the evening. (Check out this link for my report of our previous visit to the area over New Year weekend 2016-17, when we followed some of the same route).

So we arrived very late at our destination, Chishang 池上, in the northern area of Taitung, close to Hualien County border, and famous for it’s rice ~ and it’s scenery!


Up early to see the sunrise and a walk around Dapo Lake, with THE best views!  And what great weather!

Philip and his wife have a good friend, Yi-hua, living in Chishang. Actually, she became a Christian through their ministry when they were in St. Paul’s Church, Kaohsiung, and she was baptized by Philip there a few years ago. In 2016, she moved to Chishang with her husband to start a business selling their newly-invented rice cakes, which are so wonderful!  All made using the 100% real and very famous Chishang rice. There’s savoury and sweet ones, and served with coffee, wow, so delicious.  We arrived on their doorstep (their shop is diagonally opposite the Chishang Presbyterian Church) while they were still asleep (having stayed up to the early hours baking!) and yet they warmly welcomed us in and shared about how God has led them in their business these recent months, ending with a prayer of blessing from Philip.  If you’re ever in Chishang, you just MUST go and visit!


But now farewell to Chishang, and we were heading first north, then over the mountains to the coastal road and southwards along the coast to Yiwan Card Church 宜灣卡片教堂,  a Presbyterian Church built in 1951, used by the local Amis People 阿美族 (so called the ‘Card Church’ because the design was apparently copied from a card, collected in childhood by one of the church members!) Philip is here below holding an Amis Bible. The church is gorgeous ~ I just love the colours!


We continued south, visiting famous landmarks and sea vistas, too many to mention, but all in the area around Chenggong Township 成功鎮, where they also have beautiful flowers. And to the Amis village of Pisirian (meaning the place where people raise sheep in Amis language)…

The most famous scenic spot in the whole area is Sanxiantai 三仙台 and its amazing eight-arch bridge.  I walked over the whole thing and up to the light beacon, built in 1915 during the Japanese Colonial Period, the first of its kind on the east coast. I loved it!  I had been to Sanxiantai once before, but many many years ago.  Apparently the best time to go is at sunrise, but we got there mid-afternoon and the clouds were already rolling in fast, so at least it was nice and cool!


We stayed overnight at the Bunun Leisure Farm, 布農部落 where we had visited also on the same trip as the Beinan Hunting Festival, over New Year weekend 2016-17.


Bunun Leisure Farm is an initiative set up by Bunun Presbyterian pastor, Rev. Pai Kwang-Sheng and his wife to help the local Bunun People in education and to revive their traditional culture, and to share these resources with visitors, providing a reliable and sustainable source of income for the people.  It was the first time that Philip and his wife had visited, and oh, how they loved it!  We had a wonderful dinner, watched the music performance that evening, and then the dancing performance the next morning, met Rev. Pai who kindly hosted us to lunch and coffee and, well, we were all so so happy!  It is such a great place.  We couldn’t bear to leave!

But leave we had to, in order to get back to Tainan.  And the next day to Taichung.  And after a wonderful dinner, hosted by Rev. Lily Chang for those who help lead and preach at the St. James’ English service, so I headed back to Taipei on Thursday early morning  and eventually home on Thursday night.

What a great Chinese New Year it was!  Special thanks to good friend Ah-Guan and her family, Rev. Philip Ho and his family, and all those who we met, those who welcomed us so warmly and generously, including the Rev. Lily Chang and the Wang family in Taichung, Ms. Xiao in Chishang, Rev. Samuel Liao and the church members of Grace Church, Tainan, Rev. Pai in Bunun Farm and so many more ~ and thanks to the good friends who kindly gave us their Bunun Farm coupons so we could stay there effectively as their guests.  Everyone was so hospitable, gracious and kind.  And not surprisingly, some were exhausted – especially Philip as he did magnificently with so many long hours of driving ~ I have more than one photo like this one!  Thank you Philip.  And I just love his hat!


The weather was amazing, the scenery was spectacular, the dancing was great, there were virtually no traffic problems, and everything worked out so well.  Thanks be to Almighty God!

And when I got home, Bishop Roger and his wife, Alice and sister-in-law Anne (who’d all been staying at my house over the New Year while visiting Anne and Alice’s lovely parents in the nearby Shuang-Lien Elderly Home) had just left for their respective homes in Mauritius and USA. But I know from their photos that the weather in Sanzhi over the New Year was also warm and sunny,  thanks be to God.  Big thanks to Bishop Roger and family for house-sitting!  This is us on the only day we overlapped, their arrival day on Friday February 9!

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standing and text

Chinese New Year officially lasts until the 15th day of the first lunar month, so we still have another week to go until the official start of Lantern Festival ~ but as the Chinese New Year festival was so late this year, all work in Taiwan officially resumed on Wednesday, as did all schools, except universities ~ our new semester starts on Monday.  Ah yes, it’s all go to get ready!

So with the New Year well and truly here, wishing you all a very Happy Year of the Dog!

Yes to God, Yes to Mission, Yes to Taiwan!