Waking up in the third morning, after having my clothes washed I walked to the Formosa Boulevard Station. This photo should be a strong evidence for my previous comment that Kaohsiung MRT is way less crowded than that of Taipei.
That day I decided to take a trip to the famous Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum. I travelled by MRT to Zuoying Station, where I caught the bus to Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum. The story related to bus to Fo Guang Shan is another interesting one. You should first catch the Bus No. 8501 to get down at Eda World ( a kind of complex of hotels, theme park, supermarket) and then catch another Bus No. 8501 to Fo Guang Shan Museum. I remember how I was totally confident to stay still on the Bus No. 8501 even when every tourist on the bus got down and it was not until the driver started to drive back to Kaohsiung for around 10 minutes, I felt something wrong and asked him if I was on the right bus, he immediately drove back to let me down at Eda World. It took me around 15 minutes to wait for the bus to Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum. On the way to the Museum, I went by the campus of I-shou University, the one that my neighbour was studying.
On the bus, the driver kept reminding us about the difference between FGS and FGS Museum. FGS is the old pagoda while FGS Museum is, of course, a museum and the two are located in two different bus stops. I decided to visit FGS Museum, though.
Thing that is left in my mind about FGS Museum should be its gigantic size. The Museum occupies an area of 100 hectares. There would be no more perfect description of its architecture than that offered by Wikipedia: “The complex faces east and is built along a central axial line. Beyond the Welcoming Hall are eight Chinese-styled pagodas on either side of the main avenue leading up to the Bodhi Square, about which are statues of the Buddha’s main disciples and of the founders of the principal schools of Chinese Buddhism. This gives onto the Memorial Hall, with its various shrines, including the Jade Buddha Shrine in which the tooth relic is located. Above the hall are four stupas that symbolize the Four Noble Truths. Standing behind but separate from it, there is an enormous seated metal Shakyamuni Buddha 108 meters high.”
Things offered here went beyond knowledge of one who barely has any knowledge of Buddhism like me. The Museum offered lots of exhibitions related to the events of Buddhism, the lessons taught by the Buddhism, etc. I thought that it would take days for ones to read everything presented there. And even for ones with good Chinese, comprehending things written in the museum is by no means an easy task. I remember there was a room in the Museum, where an interactive game is offered, specifically, you have to correctly read out loud a quote by Buddha if you want to light up the room. The quote, of course, was written in traditional Chinese writing style, which made a Singaporean tourist, who possessed a very good Chinese, feel difficult to read. After wandering around the Museum, I decided to take a rest by going to a pavilion nearby to have a free cup of tea before leaving FGS Museum for Fongyi Academy.
Fongyi Academy was far more interesting to me as I comprehended most of things written there. Fongyi Academy or Fongyi Tutorial Academy (鳳儀書院) is a former tutorial academy during the Qing Dynasty rule of Taiwan in Fongshan District, Kaohsiung, Taiwan. It is the largest preserved Confucian academy in Taiwan. As one growing up in a country that used to promote Confucianism in the past, I did not find it difficult to make sense thing demonstrated there, which was mainly about the system of examination under feudal period. However, unlike in Vietnam, where the old stuff is presented boringly with few descriptions, Taiwanese knows how to make things more interesting by creating cool comics to present their history. Yes you can bring Apple iPad into the examination room in the Qing Dynasty.
Kaohsiung, located in the south of Taiwan, used to among the first places where immigrants from the South East of China came and settled down there. Therefore, it was easy to find out the old Chinese-style architecture there in Kaohsiung Street. It was interesting to have a look at the old map of Taiwan drawn in 1640. When the Dutch first settled to Taiwan, they landed in the south of Taiwan. At that time, the North of Taiwan was totally unknown to the Dutch, therefore, the map first drawn by the Dutch mainly illustrated the Southern land, and the shape of Taiwan on the map was relatively horizontal.
It was not until when all the lands of Taiwan were known to the colonizer that the shape of Taiwan on the map is as vertical as it is today. It made me remember another interesting experience of mine when visiting Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park, a museum of the gold mining industry in Ruifang. In this museum, I saw the map of northern Taiwan sketched by the Spanish with Tamsui being drawn with relatively bigger area than that of other places in the Northwest coast of Taiwan. It made me associate with a life fact that when people did not have a comprehensive overview but little knowledge of any field, they would say about it like it was the main part of that field.
As noted above, as Kaohsiung was among the very first places that the immigrants from Fujian, Minnan settled down, the buildings in Kaohsiung are more Chinese-styled than those up north, for example, Taipei and Taichung. From my own observation, Taipei was more influenced by Japanese-styled architecture as the Japanese in their 50-year colonization made Taipei its administrative centre. Leaving Fongyi Academy, I had a random walk through several blocks of apartments in this area and found several old buildings, pagoda or a random old house in Chinese style like this.
I went to MRT Fongshan to go to World Games Station, where I planned to visit Lotus Pond. It was late in the afternoon and I was already a little bit tired. At first, I was not so interested in the Lotus Pond for its name sounded blatant to me (sorry, Lotus Pond). Lotus Pond, however, turned out to be more interesting than I thought at first. After a 10-minute walk, I finally made it to the Pond. What made the Pond special should be the great number of Temples and Pavilions around the lake, for example: Confucius Temple, Spring and Autumn Pavilions, Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, Pei Chi Pavilion, Chi Ming Palace, etc. As it was already late so I decided to visit Confucius Temple only. Of three Confucius Temples I visited in Taiwan (one in Taipei, one in Kaohsiung, and one in Tainan), the one in Kaohsiung is the largest. The Confucius Temple in Kaohsiung was originally built in 1684. It, however, was relocated and rebuilt in 1977. If you pay attention to the architecture structure of Confucius Temple in general, you will find out that every Confucius Temple does not have a front door that leads to the Temple directly. The front of the Temple is often covered by a wall (万仞宫墙), from a quote in the Analects (Luận ngữ – Lunyu):
Thúc tôn Vũ Thúc nói với các quan đại phu ở triều: Ông Tử Cống tài giỏi hơn ông Trọng Ni. Tử Cống nói: “Thí chi cung tường: Tứ chi tường dã cập kiên, khuy kiến ốc gia chi hảo, phu tử chi tường sổ nhận, bất đắc kì môn nhi nhập, bất kiến tông miếu chi mĩ, bách quan chi phú”
Lấy bức tường cung thất làm thí dụ. Bức tường của Tứ tôi cao tới vai, nên người đứng ngoài thấy được những cái đẹp trong nhà. Bức tường của thầy tôi cao mấy nhận, nếu không cửa mà vào thì không thấy được những cái đẹp trong tông miếu và sự kiến trúc các điện phong phú ra sao.
The Analects is so difficult for an ordinary girl like me to understand. For one curious about further meaning of the quoted text, please refer to this link for further explanation. What I meant here is the story about how the wall in Kaohsiung Confucius Temple was different from those of Taipei or Tainan. The wall in Kaohsiung Confucius Temple was indeed built in the front of the main gate of the Temple but it was built separately not attached to the whole structure.
I spent another hour walking around the Lake to enjoy the late autumn wind in the last day of November. The Lotus Pond somehow made me remember the West Lake in my hometown.