Tag Archives: Dragon Boat Festival

Pentecost & Dragon Boat Festival 2019!

A bumper weekend here in Taiwan ~ with an extra day off on Friday for the Dragon Boat Festival. YES!

Today is Pentecost ~ the day we remember the coming of the Holy Spirit on Jesus’ disciples in Jerusalem, 40 days after His resurrection and 10 days after His ascension. The colour associated with Pentecost is always red, and it so happens I just love red! Today at Advent Church @ St. John’s University, the 2 flame trees are still in flower (see the 2 photos above, taken on May 30) ~ and nearly everyone was wearing something red. And it looked beautiful! So beautiful in fact, that we had a group photo of us all, that’s the one at the top. We also had the Gospel reading in lots of different languages, which was a blessing, helped considerably by our Malaysian students who are very multilingual. And one of our Taiwan students, Zhong-Yu was baptized – he lives locally, so he also went to our local junior-high school next door, and he’s well-known to us all. Thanks be to God!

Meanwhile, out on the streets, the local townships of Tamsui and Sanzhi are celebrating Dragon Boat Festival this weekend with 3 days of parades of deities and gods. For followers of traditional folk religion, this weekend is a busy time of cooking and making offerings to the ancestors. It’s also a time for family reunions. Here at St. John’s University, 2 of our delightful church members, Ming-Chuan and Meng-Zhen spent all of Friday cooking a delicious dinner, and in the evening they invited our Malaysian students plus some of our chaplaincy staff to a wonderful gathering, & me too….😊😊😊!

The traditional food for Dragon Boat Festival is zhong- zi 粽子, made with sticky rice, filled with meat, eggs (or even red beans for a dessert) and wrapped in bamboo leaves or other large flat leaves, and boiled or steamed. But there was also plenty more – all yummy!

Taiwan is in the middle of the Plum Rainy Season, so the weather is always unpredictable, and for this weekend, it was mostly forecast to rain every afternoon in the mountains. On Friday it was 32°C, but ‘feels like 41°C’ said my phone. It was indeed very hot. Phew! I went up Guanyinshan 觀音山 (616m – but felt like triple that 😫😫😫!!) This is what the mountain looks like from Tamsui MRT Station, just a small pimple of a hill. But on a hot June day, feeling like 41 °C, it is massive! The trail starts just across the river, just above sea level.

The trail to the main peak is called the Ying Han Ling trail (硬漢嶺步道) or the “Tough Guy Peak” – because it’s where the police used to do their training. But that’s not all. Coming along the ridge to the left are another 6-7 smaller humps, all very steep, and all either with steps or ropes going up and down. It’s hard on the legs and hands (take gloves!) but it’s great fun. Difficult to photograph, cos it’s really steep ~ and a little hot, but it’s worth it all…

The whole trail took 5½ long, hot hours, and the highlight was seeing the view at the top…

And the hydrangeas, in full bloom all over….

And this is Taipei down below…

On Saturday, I decided the best way to beat the aching limbs was to go up another hill – and this time off I went to Xiangshan, Elephant Mountain, over on the other side of Taipei, up behind Taipei 101 ~ plus the range of hills behind it, which lead up to Jiuwu / 9-5 Peak 九五峰 (402m) and Muzhi mountain 拇指山, on the same trail. The weather was mostly cloudy, so it was a bit cooler, and after Guanyinshan, this walk was really a piece of cake. Only 3½ hours to complete the whole trail – normally it’s hard work in the heat with all the steps, but hey, compared with the day before, it was easy!

And now back to sea-level, recovering from all those exertions, and the weekend would not be complete without sharing with you a few photos of what’s going on locally, well, in Sanzhi. The fields are full of water bamboo, seaweed is drying in the sun, the waterwheels are busy, and the sun is shining!

And the lotus flowers are out all over Sanzhi too. I took these on Thursday early morning last week….

And then there’s lots of the Singapore Daisies (Sphagneticola trilobata) or wedelia, which unfortunately are on the “List of the world’s 100 worst invasive species” – which is a great shame, cos they are stunningly beautiful, and look great covering up old walls!

A great big thank you to all who made our Dragon Boat Festival so special, and thanks be to God for good weather, welcoming friends, delicious food, beautiful countryside, spectacular mountains, and lots to see and do. May God’s Holy Spirit continue to fill us each day. Wishing you all a happy and blessed Pentecost 2019!

Happy Dragon Boat Festival 2017 @ Taipei!

It was all happening at Dazhi Riverside in Taipei this morning ~ the final day of 3 days of Dragon Boat Competitions!  The sun was out, the weather was warm, and everyone was rowing hard!

In good weather, and with plenty of time, the best way for me to get to Dazhi Riverside from here is by U-bike from Tamsui, and so off I set!  Before 7:00 am too, while the weather was still cooler.  It took maybe 90 minutes of slow riding, enjoying the scenery…

First stop though was the graffiti wall along by the riverside near to the Grand Hotel. The pictures are renewed often, so it’s worth checking out often!  There’s at least 50 works of art there.  These are my favourites….

And then to the dragon boat races, and after 30 minutes there – I sped off along the river in the sunshine, past the end of the Songshan Airport towards Nangang….

And so into Taipei City itself… not much traffic as it’s a holiday.

But trying to find Taipei 101 when you’re down on the streets is really hard!  Ah here it is!

Actually I was trying to find that DNA Double Helix building, the Agora Garden Tower, that I saw down below when I was up in Taipei 101 a few weeks ago (see my blog post here).  And here it is!

Y’know, from Taipei 101 looking down, the Double Helix Building is quite amazing.  But from ground level looking up, it is kinda bizarre. Looks like it’s going to topple over any minute!

While the rest of Taipei was clearly on holiday today, the Double Helix building was full of workers drilling and welding and doing things that builders do….

And next stop was Treasure Hill Artist Village on the other riverside at Gongguan…

By then it was midday, and the clouds were coming in, and starting to drizzle.  Drizzle drizzle, and so off I sped, back to Tamsui.  Got back to Tamsui soon after 2:00 pm.  Then on a packed bus home.  Tonight in Tamsui is the very big parade of the deities from all the temples – taking them all round the town in a huge long procession, while people make offerings and ask the gods for their blessings.  Pray for Tamsui.  It’s the highlight of the year for many people.  Sanzhi’s turn is on Thursday….

Yes, over 7 hours on a U-bike.  Ah, such a great way to travel!  Especially after 2 days of climbing mountains at Yang-Ming Shan.  Now stiff all over!  How on earth do so many people manage to cycle over 900 km all round Taiwan in 9 days?  Amazing.  One day is enough for me for a while!

So Happy Dragon Boat Festival to you all!

端午節 Dragon Boat Festival….

Today is the 5th day of the 5th lunar month and a holiday for  端午節 (Duan-Wu Festival) or Dragon Boat Festival ~ every year Taipei City organizes a huge Dragon Boat Race Competition on the river below the Grand Hotel, so this year checking it out…

Teams from all over the country and all over the world, including Philippines, Australia, Malaysia, Israel, teams from companies, schools, colleges, towns and even small islands, all competing in a whole weekend of competition… races all day long!

In the afternoon, off to Luzhou, part of Taipei’s urban sprawl, and right in the middle of all the high-rise buildings is the Lee family residence.  The Lee family were highly respected in Luzhou as scholars and leaders ~ the house dates from the 19th century when Luzhou was still a farming village.  Part of my extended family perhaps?! Lots of people there today for a special Dragon Boat Festival day….

And so back to Tamsui ~ where Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated every year with a huge temple celebration and parade of temple idols through the town.  People set up altars along the roadside in front of their shops and homes, ranging from a table with a few flowers and fruit, to a huge stage with idols and food etc ~ that’s what they were doing this afternoon. As tonight’s parade passes by, firecrackers are set off, offerings are made and blessings are sought…

Not surprisingly, Dragon Boat Festival is not something that local Christians celebrate, apart from eating the traditional zhong-zi, triangular sticky-rice filled with meat and eggs. Dragon Boat races are usually sponsored by local temples, and includes the blessing of the dragon boats….. and while the parade of the idols and gods in Tamsui is culturally interesting, it’s also spiritually very dark ~ Christians pray instead for God’s protection on the people and their homes…

IMG_0297And finally, there at Tamsui MRT Station I saw for the first time today a large advert for St. John’s University as we try to recruit students for the new academic year.  All sorts of scholarships on offer, depending on grades ~ and a nice photo of Advent Church – please pray for us, it’s all happening!