Monday, March 21, 2011

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Tienyuen Temple, Tamsui

3/21/2011 Taiwan Explorer

This weekend my girlfriend brought me to a very interesting place. We went to the Tienyuen Temple (天元宮) near Tamsui. The weather was not so good, we had gray sky and it looked like it will rain at any time, so at first I wasn't very enthusiastic to go with her. She actually didn't tell me, that we'll gonna see an impressive temple, she only said we're going to see cherry blossoms. Yes, Taiwanese love to see cherry blossoms and take a lot of photos. I like to see them, too, but I prefer good weather. But then I remembered how beautiful they were last year in Seoul's Yeouido and that motivated me to eventually follow my girlfriend.

We took the MRT to Tamsui and then a bus to an area nearby (took us around 20 min).

Click here for a bigger map

The ride with the bus was a real adventure. Going to the temple was fine, because we had seats. Going back was something else, because we had to stand and the bus was full.

After 20 minutes we finally came to the famous temple, that attracts a lot of visitors in March, when the cherry blossom season is at its peak. The temple belongs to a very young religious group (formed in the 20th century in China). The belief is called I-Kuan Tao (一貫道, lit. the consistent path) and is quite popular in Taiwan. The followers are known to be vegetarians. If you want to learn more, read about the religion here. According to local sources, the Tienyuen Temple's origins date back to the 1970s, but more parts were added in the 1980s. The most famous building, the 5 storey round tower, was build in 1992. It was in recent years, that young Taiwanese like to come here in huge masses every spring to take photos of the cherry blossoms (sakura). For me personally, the temple is more fascinating and I hope I can return on a brighter day and with less people to take more photos and enjoy the view.

Here are some impressions from March, 2011:

A statue above the fountain in front of a big paifang, that marks the entrance.

Food vendors on the left, masses of people on the right. The cherries are up there.

This is the famous round shaped tower in old Chinese style. Nearby are the cherries.

The building is really impressive, it resembles the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

The never ending masses of Taiwanese sakura fans. Impressive as well.

The Tienyuen temple as seen from the tower.

A detail of the round tower.

The inside part. We went up to the first floor to enjoy the view.

The view was great, but if the sky is blue, it must be much much better.

My girlfriend took a lot of photos of the cherry blossoms. Good job!

The cherry blossoms and the round tower.

Taiwanese taking tons of photos at the same time.

Because only few cherries were in bloom, huge crowds gathered around them, consisting mostly of young people, usually couples. The girl would pose and make cute faces, while the boyfie would take photos of her. It was very adorable. Now I know that young Taiwanese have another passion: Cherry blossoms. It was really a fun experience. If you want to visit, you need to hurry up, the cherries won't blossom too long anymore, maybe for a week only. We took the bus 801 opposite of the Tamsui MRT Station (here) and paid 23 NTD one way per person (46 all together is a little more than 1 euro). There are also free shuttle buses provided.

• Explore all my Tamsui posts at once.