Going Around Taiwan (West Coast)

the city of: Gaoxiong! (Day 3)

(this is a continuation of that long trip I took back in May)

Our third day in Gaoxiong we went on a small excusion to Foguangshan, the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. Its name means "the light of Buddha mountain" and it was founded in 1967. It's also famous for having a tooth relic of Siddhartha (aka the guy who became Buddha). The grounds are just really huge! There's even a university inside it. We just picked the most interesting places to go...

First we had to rent a scooter (only way to get there)... and then....
Perhaps the most iconic part of Foguangshan is the giant golden Buddha statue (Amitabha). It's 118 ft tall!

This is the entrance...

This is the Avalokitesvara Pond. Beautiful!
First we went to Pure Land Cave which is supposed to be an exhibit on all the different people or beings in Buddhism. It had lots of Christmas lights and moving statues. Kindy cheesy...
We'll meet this guy later on in Tainan or Taizhong.... The person with the head coming out of his chest. Wish I could find out who he is and what it means!
You could write down a wish for Buddha to hear if you wanted.
Next was the Garden of Devotees:
Found a religious ficus ;)
By this time we were really hungry and it was SO hot outside! We got to one of their restaurants. This one you could try the simple meal that the monks and nuns eat everyday (for free!).
 It's basically congee (rice plus water porridge) with some dried up I dunno, vegetables and seeds... I know it might not sound like it but it was actually good! :)
Lots of steps to climb up...
Next we get to the Main Shrine where you have to take your shoes off. There's huge statues of Buddhas and a large bell and drum used for worship.
Next we wanted to find Siddhartha's tooth. My book said it was in the Tathagata Building:
But we found out it was moved to another area entirely! We had to ride a golf cart to get there and then more walking... But here's some neat buildings!
Jade Buddha Building
Golden Buddha Building
We decided to visit the Great Buddha Land (aka the really tall statue) before we left to find the tooth, and we stumbled upon the dormitories for the nuns.
Looking at my future home? ;) JK!!!!!!!!!

 Next we went to the new area (I forgot the name!) where the tooth is supposed to be.

 And we found STARBUCKS!!!!
The entrance building was basically a department store. Didn't get a mocha frappucino, sadly. :'(
What was intestings was that (as in all of Foguangshan) no meat is allowed:
Now THAT'S a huge Buddha statue! We walked all the way to that building to see the tooth.
When we got there we were told it was in the Jade Buddha room. No pictures allowed! (Oops... O:-) )
Couldn't figure it out... where was the tooth? We asked a nun who sortof rudely responded that they don't talk about the tooth- this is a place of worship. Then she went to be friendly with some obviously Buddhist tourists... OOOH WELL! BUT! I think I figured out that the tooth was in the thing on top of the statue... I saw other relics in a "vase" like that on the rest of the trip.
The rest of the building had mini-exhibits on Buddhism and we walked through the one on Buddha's life. It was really interesting!!!!
I also bought a ton of reading material in Buddhism! I'm not going to convert but I think it's really interesting to learn about different religions! It was a great day and I'm glad I got to go experience Foguangshan! :D


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