Taiwan Day 4 – Chung Tai Chan Monastery

We began our forth day lazy, staying at home. Shuwen’s father added her to his car insurance so that we would be able to save some money using his car instead of renting one, and we started late in the morning towards Puli and the Chung Tai Chan Monastery. The monastery is in one of the largest Buddhist buildings in the world, it’s a very modern building and temple with lots of granite and concrete. Apparently, it was entirely financed through donations.

It was around lunchtime so we headed to the nearby Cloud Villa hotel and restaurant to have lunch. Because it’s so close to a Buddhist place, the restaurant is entirely vegetarian, and they serve absolutely incredible meat imitations made from bean curd (tofu). We had the “veggie chicken breast” and it was absolutely fantastic. They also have fish and other meat imitations. It was still too early to check in to our room at the hotel, so we headed back to the monastery for sightseeing after lunch.

First stop was the museum of Buddhist art next to the monastery and temple. I don’t know. I guess I’m not really a museum person? šŸ™‚ There’s statues of stone, statues of wood, writings and paintings on paper, and rubbings of writings on stone, and so forth. Photography was not allowed, so, double-boring. The large statues and artwork are impressive for sure, but I guess you have to be into this whole Buddhism and history thing to fully appreciate it. šŸ˜‰

We continued to the monastery/temple itself then, but unfortunately, not many areas were accessible to the public. The coolest feature of the building perhaps is what I would call a “pagoda under glass” – inside the building’s tower, behind an outer hull of glass walls, is a pagoda, and it is also illuminated at night. It would have been cool to get access to it, but it was blocked. Bummer. We wandered around and made some photos, you can find a couple of them below in the gallery.

After that we were able to check into the hotel room and guess what – the hotel has no forth flour! Elevator goes 1, 2, 3, 5, 6. You have to know that the number “4” is pronounced very similar to “death”, and no one would want to live on the death floor, apparently. Oh, sweet Asian superstition… (there’s that story about the Alfa Romeo 164 model: the combination of numbers is apparently pronounced very similar to “all the way to death”, so they renamed it to model 168 for Asia, which then is close to “all the way to prosperity”). I’m really surprised that Nikon dared to release the F4 and D4 cameras in Asia. šŸ˜‰

Once in our room we took a shower and then crashed for a nap before dinner. Unfortunately, the mattresses were very hard – I had hoped to “escape” the hard mattress at Shuwen’s home in a hotel, but apparently, Taiwanese people love hard mattresses. Problem is that I sleep on the side and my hips began to hurt after a couple of hours of lying on them (well, that’s were the biggest weight is;-) on these hard mattresses. Other than that, the hotel was nice.

We had dinner at the hotel’s vegetarian restaurant and our friends Caroline and Benson met us in the evening in the hotel’s cafeteria/lobby for some chatting when the restaurant manager approached us, asking to make a photo that they want to showcase on their “wall of international guests”. Shuwen and I posed as a couple with the manager, but that was not good – no feelings allowed since it’s a Buddhist place! Weird. Then the number of people in the photo was wrong (Asian superstition, again) so we needed another person to make the photo. I found it quite amusing, and hope my picture will help them gain more business.

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