Sunday, July 27, 2014

Changhua (彰化市) July 5, 2014

After the first few crazy days of teaching we were all a little bit anxious to get out of Fengyuan (pronounced fong you-en) and explore some sights around the area (all recommended by Pinterest and The Lonely Planet, of course). Our first excursion was Changhua, to visit the infamous giant buddha, along with several other tourist destinations. 

Prior to departing we made a game plan that not only involved going to a Confucian temple, a fan shaped railroad garage, and the giant buddha, but also involved going on a bike ride "through the sweet rural roads" around the area (Lonely Planets words, not mine). As is often the case our plans were altered by some unforeseeable events, but more about that later 😃.

Our first travel picture waiting for our train

It has been 5 years since I have been traveling in a foreign country - and that was apparent. I was a little rusty at the train station, luckily it was just like riding a bike and all of those experiences from traveling by train to and from church in Nanjing came flooding back to me. 

We made it Changhua with no problems (it helps that I have no shame and will ask every person I see if I am in the correct location). Our first stop was the fan shaped train garage. According to The Lonely Planet "the fan shaped train garage is the last of its kind in Taiwan. In essence a single line of tracks connects with a short section of rotatable track from which 12 radial tracks branch out. A train engine rides up onto the short track, rotates in the direction of its garage, then proceeds inside for maintenance and repairs... The garage accommodates the oldest steam-powered train engine in Taiwan (built in 1907)." (Pg 222)

Next we headed back to the train station to rent bikes for the rest of the afternoon. Well that was a FIASCO!! We found the bikes but apperentaly in order to rent them you have to have a Taiwanese phone number or credit card. Well only one girl brought her credit card with her and we could only rent one bike per card. So needless to say we were not able to go on the "sweet rural roads of Changhua." Instead we walked to our next two destinations, the Confucion Temple and the buddah statue. 
According to the Lonely Planet "This 1726 beauty both ranks as one of the oldest Confucian temples in Taiwan and as a first-class historical relic." (222) Although what they don't tell you is that it was remodeled in 1978. 

 After exploring the temple grounds and stopping at subway for lunch (which was heavenly!!) we headed up to Baguashan (八卦山) to see the 22 meter high Great Buddah Statue that looks down over the whole city. 

"The Great Buddha was added in 1962, while the Baguashan slopes were for centuries a military observation zone. The area affords views not only over the whole of the city, but far out to sea." (222)
The climb up to the buddha was breathtaking. It was lush, and green with quite a few water features.
 As we approached the top of the hill we were left speechless as we looked to our right and got a view of the entire city of Changuah. We looked to our left and saw a giant sculpture with an ornate temple closely behind it. Now I have seen a few buddahs in my days, but NONE of them compare to the majesty and beauty of the Great Buddha Statue. We even got to go up inside of it (although I didn't stay too long because it was hotter than hell in there). Anytime we go to a temple there is always religious practices going on, which is always so fascinating to me. 
Overall I would say it was a pretty successful first adventure (well second if you count the Rainbow Village). I am excited to finish the rest of my travel-blog and more excited to continue adding to it throughout the rest of my time here in Taiwan. 

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