January 2, 2005  We wander around Old Taipei

 

Leaving Long Shan Temple, we headed north along several alleys.  It being Sunday, Jan 2, many small shops were closed—their owners gone off to the temples or to see friends and relatives.  People work VERY hard here—and it seems shops almost never close.  Indeed, standard closing time seems to be 8PM seven days a week. 

 

Still, monks begged in the street, little ladies sold lottery tickets, and construction crews from Thailand and the Philippines labored on. 

(see three pictures beleow)

 

We walked up a small street specializing in hand made coffins.   Crematoriums, and stone urns for the departed one’s ashes were also on offer.  Soon, on a cheerier note, we came out onto a broader street filled with fruit and vegetable stalls.  We took the opportunity to buy a wide selection to sample for lunch.

 (see three pictures below)

 

  Dragon Fruit--white on inside with speckles of black seeds

 

 

Afterwards, we strolled west towards the river.  Narrow lanes give way to freeways and elevated highways near the river.  We walked along two blocks of vendors selling nothing but used restaurant equipment.

 

 We managed to get out onto a walkway along the Danshuei River.  It was obvious the Danshuei floods often, throwing up a vast plain of debris and providing a rich home for wild dogs and who knows what else.

 

  two dogs take it easy in the trash

  highways and progress seem to have over run

this temples, though, who knows, maybe it was built AFTER the highway.

 

Heading back into the city, we came across a neighborhood temple, the sort of local church.  This one seemed both tidy and prosperous except for the homeless man sleeping on the front porch. 

  Note the three Wise Men , Fu, Lu, and Shue on top

and blue sleeping bag on porch.  The large furnace for burning spirit monehy is to the right in background.

   local temple's furnace for spirit money

 

We walked the many narrow blocks of the Night Market set up for this area (not the Night Market we went to and described on another web page).  This one includes a section called Snake Alley—you can eat all sorts of snakes but there are signs all around in English forbidding picture taking (and the proprietors look like they mean it.)  Skinning and eating snakes seems to be getting bad press with animal rights folks if not with the rest of us, so the locals have gotten a tad bit defensive.  

And it’s not just the snake vendors that give the place an unsavory reputation.  After dark, the area is a drug dealer and prostitution hang out. 

 

With my more than typical middle aged American fat man insouciance,   I was intrigued by a picturesque little alley littered with red lanterns off Snake Alley .  Three steps into the alley, and a number of ladies in too much make-up came out to greet me.  I hastily back tracked, my face as red as their lanterns, while my wife tried not to fall over laughing.

 

The sun finally came out, so we thought it a good time to go back to Long Shan for some better pictures.  Approaching he temple from this direction we traversed several blocks of shops selling all sorts of offerings, statues, and religious paraphernalia for the faithful.  Some stores were filled with ultra cheap plastic statues and goods, while some carried only true works of art.  The sidewalks were crowded with trash can shaped furnaces topped with chimneys –indispensable for small business owners and the faithful who need them for monthly rites in which spirit money is burned.

 

Street side vendors of cans for burning spirit money

  

Front entrance to a shop selling EXQUISIT wood carvings for your own home chapel

 

MahTsu pours out some offering to the King of the Sea Dragon in this carving about 22 inches high

   Nine ft tall stone carving of MahTsu for sale--I just couldn't fit it into my

carry on luggage

And finally, the sun comes out in late afternoon over Long Shan Temple entrance.