Thursday, January 12, 2012


Anping, a few miles west of downtown Tainan near the coast has a couple of reconstructed forts, a few old temples, and the supposedly oldest street on the island, built by the Dutch and chock full of vendors and people. In my book, it is a fully-fledged tourist trap. However, the day we were there, there was an exciting procession which I have never seen in China. I am still unclear of the exact occasion. I do not know the nouns or verbs in Chinese describing the happenings. I am not even sure whether I can pick them out in a multiple choice test.

What I am sure is that the Catholics have been here. Coming from Carnival in South America last year, this procession might as be Carnival, though the fireworks and firecrackers make it distinctly Chinese. Several years ago, at the Kunchi Festival in Nagasaki, Japan, we learned that the Japanese tradition of carrying idols was borrowed from the Dutch. [And by the way, Tibetan Buddhism also appropriated rituals from the Catholics.] The Portuguese, Spaniards, and Dutch had all been on the island of Taiwan to leave their indelible marks.

The processioners were young and old, man and woman, from far and near, and organized by their temples. I did not discern any governmental or commercial patronage. Though they started at six in the morning, as hot and tired they must have been by the afternoon, everyone still looked engaged. On the other hand, the atheist in me cannot help wondering whether the young people are being brain washed. After a couple of weeks here, I am beginning to think that their religion is not sacred, but matter of fact. It is like eating food. One grows up eating Taiwanese/Chinese food, does Taiwanese/Chinese religion. One can try other food, eat other food occasionally, or switch to prefer another food completely. No big deal. For those young people, the procession might as well be soccer. They have to practice, learn about teamwork, travel out of town....

Yongping Street, the oldest street in Taiwan, reminded us of St George Street in St. Augustine, Florida; in fact, the two cities are very similar in their tourist appeal: old street with food and souvenirs, waterfront, early European settlement, old fort; and are in John's opinion "touristy in a fun way".
Yongping Street - Anping - Tainan, Taiwan

Entrance to one of the historic forts; the so-called Eternal Golden Castle.
Historic Fort - Tainan, Taiwan

Anping waterfront.
Anping Waterfront - Tainan, Taiwan

Traditional Chinese Lion Dance.
Lion Dance - Tainan, Taiwan

Traditional Temple Guardian whirls around.
Procession - Tainan, Taiwan

Hip-Hop dance stylings from this guardian.
Procession - Tainan, Taiwan

Some idols/gods are carried in sedan chairs with flexible bamboo poles so they an be continually bounced up and down.
Procession - Tainan, Taiwan

The drums help keep up the energy level and drive away evil spirits.
Procession - Tainan, Taiwan

Firecrackers!! make this group flinch.
Procession - Tainan, Taiwan

Anping is developing a network of bike paths and one can rent bikes there, including electric tandems.
Bike Path - Tainan, Taiwan

Electric Tandem - Tainan, Taiwan


Crash Eddy said...

The electric tandem looks like a real bomber! Did you give it a test ride?

john said...

Nope. But we are pedaling under our own power here in Guanshan on the East Coast. Stay tuned for a full report.