Tag Archives: Sanzhi 三芝

YIPPEE, SNOW!

Yes, finally, at long last, after 10 days of non-stop rain and more rain, and getting colder by the hour, today the rain has finally stopped, people’s moods have lifted, the skies have sort of cleared and in the far distance on Yang-Ming Shan Mountains 陽明山, just above Taipei City, there is SNOW!  YIPPEE!  The grey snow-laden sky is kinda merged with the white snow, but hey, check it out.  Ha ha, it’s there, honest. And just in case you’re still not sure what you’re supposed to be looking at – check out the arrows below!

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There’s no snow down here at sea-level of course, but still it’s freezing cold and we’re all bundled up with gloves and scarves and hats and coats etc etc.  Been dressed like this for several days now, it’s cold cold cold.  But today’s different, cos we are all so excited to see Real Live Snow! YES!  Albeit in the distance, 15-20 km away, but visible to the naked eye, even if not very clear on any camera.  So we’ve all been up on the 8th floor library building rooftop at St. John’s University gazing endlessly out at that distant view.  FYI, the altitude up there is about 1,000 m.

The last time this happened was exactly 2 years ago, and the time before that, well, was about a decade ago.  Before my time.  Hey guys, this is supposed to be a subtropical country.  We don’t have no central heating.  Or any heating come to that.  Only hand warmers, hot water bottles and extra layers of clothes.  And a few have those small electric fires in home or office, although there’s none here – our SJU chaplaincy opens onto the outside, where the wind howls and blows in all directions.  Ah, we just grin and bear it!  But forget the cold, today we’re all super-excited.  Just look at us all standing up on that 8th floor rooftop….  even though actually the photo doesn’t even show any snow!

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And in case you really want to see what it’s like up there in those mountains, these 2 photos below were taken yesterday up at Erziping 陽明山二子坪步道, by our good friend, Mr. J. C. Chen, who has kindly let me share them with you….a bit slushy by the looks of it, but oh so beautiful.

Yippee,  SNOW!  Happy Snow Day everyone!

And this is the view from Sanzhi late this afternoon!

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What a great view eh?!  And yes, plenty of snowmen being built up there, but so far, none down here!

Sanzhi 三芝 Matzu Temple Centenary Celebrations, 1917-2017

Today is THE day, the climax of 5 days of celebrations, and as I write this, events are ongoing, with firecrackers and drums and trumpets and singing and offerings and all sorts of activity, and being attended by nearly everyone in the whole town.

And all in the rain and cold!  It’s been like this all weekend, but hey, when there’s a festival in town, a bit of rain and cold won’t stop anyone.

But this was the scene on Thursday, the last time that the sun appeared in Sanzhi!

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Two weeks ago, I wrote here about the preparations for the centenary celebrations of the Sanzhi Matzu Temple (honouring Matzu / Mazu / Matsu, Goddess of the Sea), officially named 三芝小基隆福成宮 Fu-Cheng Gong.  The 5 days of celebrations officially started on Wednesday, and today is the new moon, the first day of the 10th lunar month, so it’s the big day today!  See all these people? And their umbrellas….

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There’s been a lot of preparation, red lanterns strung all around the town, large gateways on the main roads leading into town, and for these 5 days virtually the whole town has gone vegetarian.  Market stalls selling meat – and butchers shops (there’s at least 10 in total) have closed down completely for the 5 days, including the famous 三芝老地方 Lao Di-Fang Steamed Baozi Restaurant, and plenty of others where the main specialty involves meat or fish.  Others are open, but only selling vegetarian food.  Even the huge Farmers’ Cooperative Supermarket has all fresh meat removed from the fridges.

All the roads leading to the main temple have been closed today and large tables set up on the roads, on which people are making their offerings, and each local village is assigned a different table area….

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Some of the tables near the temple contain what is more like an exhibition, including one of an amazing dragon ice sculpture (yes, honest, it’s all ice – with real dripping water!)…

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There’s lamps carved out of water melons….

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And there’s plenty of offerings of dead animals, including pigs….

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Goats (spot the lit cigarettes)….

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And geese…

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The lady at the bread shop told me that this was the place to see all of Taiwan’s folk culture on display all at once, and once only in 100 years.  It certainly is, and so in that spirit, I share with you the photos, firstly of last night at the main temple area….

And these of this afternoon…

And now this evening, as I passed by……

Really quite something eh?!

Sanzhi 三芝 Matzu Temple Centenary Celebrations ~ Coming Up Soon!

Two weeks ago the plot of wasteland opposite where I live suddenly sprang into life.  Trucks full of bamboo poles arrived.  People came.  Cranes and trucks and people and – well, action!  One week later, and this was the view from my front gate last Sunday….

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Happening now right outside my house is the ongoing construction of a huge 4-storey structure, the site of a forthcoming 醮 (pronounced ‘jiaò) and loosely translated as meaning a Taoist Ritual.  Copy this character ‘醮’ into Google images and you’ll see plenty of examples of what it might look like in a few weeks time!  Now 6 days later, and this is the same scene this morning in the pouring rain…

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Our little town of Sanzhi 三芝 up here on the NW coast of Taiwan has as its centrepiece a temple honouring Matzu (Mazu / Matsu), Goddess of the Sea.  The temple’s official Chinese name is 三芝小基隆福成宮 Fu-Cheng Gong, and it was constructed in 1917.  So this year there are huge Centenary Celebrations planned, scheduled for November 15-19, coinciding with the new moon and start of the 10th lunar month.  Preparations are well under way, which is why that huge structure is going up outside my house.  There’s also large archways at either end of the main road leading into and out of Sanzhi.  This is the publicity notice…

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The temple is surrounded by market stalls all day every day, but specially at the weekends.  It’s the water bamboo season, so lots of people are selling their produce, even in the pouring rain and strong wind – which is coming from the north, so it’s gonna get cold!  This was the temple area this morning – the lady with the wheelbarrow is selling water bamboo. It’s like a kind of leek, and the local specialty in Sanzhi area.

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Now it’s the time of the full moon, and today and tomorrow Matzu and all the deities and idols from the temple are off on a tour around the area, offering blessings to those who worship as they pass by, accompanied by at least 2 trucks of people playing very loud trumpets and cymbals and gongs and bells…. here they are!

This was the scene outside the temple this morning as I passed by – in the rain and wind. Inside the temple the deities were being covered up in plastic bags to keep them dry, then loaded onto the trucks….

But I was really at the market on my home from early morning exercise in the rain, to get some fruit from my nice fruit lady and her husband…..

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Ah Sanzhi, always full of colour and always something happening!

PS Updated Monday evening, tonight ~ and the view from outside our front gate now looks like this…

Amazing, eh?!

Sanzhi 三芝 in Bloom!

Sanzhi 三芝 is blooming – currently full of fields of lotus flowers…

And if you’re up really early, you’ll get to see the flowering dragon fruits (pitahaya), which bloom overnight and wilt when the sun comes up. The flowers are huge, and attract bees…

Taiwan’s countryside is looking great at this time of the year ~ come and visit and see it all for yourselves!

Rainageddon Hits Taiwan

And it was quite some weekend….

644 mm of rain fell on Sanzhi on Friday from about 2:00 – 11:00 am. That was the start of it all.  This was the scene on the coastal road on Friday morning from inside my bus….

Fridays’s report about the situation from the Taipei Times is here….

The local river at Sanzhi on Friday afternoon ….

The rains spread south over the weekend.  Tons and tons of rain.  2 dead, several missing, homes and businesses washed away or flooded. Terrible damage to infrastructure, agriculture and businesses.  This is today’s Taipei Times report here

Yesterday I went round the coastal road to Keelung.  The road passes along by some of the worst hit areas.  In Keelung, an area of the town along by the river had been flooded, and the army was helping clear up. This was the scene outside a dentists, they’re all there clearing up.  The whole road looked like this. People everywhere.

The road round the coast is open for one lane only each way.  Landslides everywhere cos the mountains there are steep.  This was the scene near the nuclear power station…  see all that mud?

This is not a typhoon. It’s the Plum Rainy Season.  Never normally like this.  Tragic.

Fortunately, the rains are expected to stop today, and repairing the damage can begin in earnest.

On Saturday I spent the morning writing a CMS newsletter.  I had decided early last week that Saturday was to be the day, but I had no idea at that point what my theme was going to be.  Events last Friday kinda of decided for me.  Am sending it off today to CMS for processing.  Check back in a few weeks time!

And finally, the reason for going to Keelung was to attend the Pentecost service at Trinity Church.  This is the back wall of the church….

Pentecost greetings to you all!  May the fire, passion and love of the Holy Spirit bring healing, grace and mercy in this dark, broken and suffering world.