A Temple on Every Block, Alley, and Corner
Trip Start Jan 18, 2013
31Trip End Jan 27, 2013
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Lugang is truly a remarkable place to visit so rich in temples and religious heritage. Not only are there so many temples listed in my guide book, there are even more not listed which was confusing me and throwing off my sense of direction.
To get to Lugang from Changhua I next took a bus from the terminal across from the train station. Ticket price was $53 TWD ($1.75) which you have to purchase from a machine all in chinese characters. The attendant was nice enough to push the button for me once I put the coins in.
From the bus station I had to plan my route as there are so many temples in all directions on my map. Beside the station there was already one temple not even on the map but I decided to skip it in favour for the the listed ones in my guide book.
The main street in Lugang is decorated all the way down with hanging red balloons across. I first went to Chenghuang Temple before following my route north west.
Back on the main street Zhongshan (which runs diagonally from NW to SE) the street was closed to traffic and was a large outdoor street bazaar. It was reminiscent of the outdoor food bazaar I had seen in Xian China.
They were selling all kinds of food items so I made a short video before my camera battery died
Video : Lugang Street Market
I made the mistake of passing by snacks thinking I could buy them later. Turns out a lot of the food I saw here I was not to see again for the rest of my time in Taiwan so now should have been the opportunity to stock up on all the snack foods.
The market stretched down side streets as well while the main street and continued to Tianhou Temple.
This was a really impressive temple, quite large, with several areas. After passing thru a main archway and outer courtyard you enter the main doorway into the temple proper.
This then brings you into an inner courtyard laid out in traditional style with a giant incense burner, devotees filling around, different flower arrangements, and kneeling pads.
What would come to be common is the sound of rolling dice. There is some ritual where they throw some kind of sticks as part of a prayer.
The interior shrines were intricately detailed. One shrine was made of dark carved wood including the buddha figure and the surrounding frame. Others were more colourfully painted with detailed artwork all around.
Behind this main building was a dragon fountain and more artwork on the rear of the building
This then lead to the two storey rear shrines and side corridors which had smaller shrines. Some had beautiful gold carved murals and others were rich in detailed carvings and collections of buddha figures.
The complex was quite large and elaborate and had intricate and detailed architecture on the exterior as well as the detailed interior shrines. There was a raised pagoda with carved figures as well as other decorative figures at the peak of the roof
Now it was time to eat as I still hadnt eaten properly today. I saw a vendor on the street making shrimp fried rice so I took a picture to try to order it. When I sat inside the staff were confused what to do seeing a foreigner.
They showed me a menu in chinese so I showed them the picture of the fried rice. The lady then started pointing to different things on the menu in chinese. I didnt know what she was saying so the guy came from outside and I showed the picture again of him making the shrimp fried rice.
A few minutes later them came back with egg fried rice but no shrimp. It cost $40 TWD ($1.30) and was a partly filling meal that I needed on the go.
Since I was now at the NW end of Zhonghsan Rd I wanted to work my way back thru town to the SE end where there was another cluster of temples. I tried to go down a side market street but I was thrown off course somewhat.
These side streets were quite narrow with no traffic and bustling with tourists, local craftsmen, artisans, and souvenir vendors.
There was more mooncake and flat bread, again I made the mistake of thinking I could buy this later in my trip. I got a giant ice cream cone for $30 TWD ($1) in which the ice cream tower is almost a foot high.
Finally I figured out my route map again and passed by Xinzu and Nanjing Temples
After this was the Lugang Assembly Hall which was a colonial style building hosting a public gallery inside. I then continued thru the crowded market lanes navigating my way.
Back at the intersection of Minquan and Zhongshan Rd I was trying to find the Sanshan Guowang Temple which took some walking around to locate
After crossing the intersection which is the midway of the historic part of town I was trying to find the Nine Turns Lane. This was designed to confuse raiding pirates but I seemed to have offshot it and headed further south passing more local street temples.
I was able to orient myself back when I found the Longshan Temple. This was not colourfully decorated in fresh paint as is other temples but was quite faded giving it a more mature character.
Also it was a more wider complex than the traditional width for temples.
Due to its aging the ceiling artwork and detail was more interesting than the usual bright paint and colours. This was more in style with Korean temples which do not use strong reds but more green and browns.
Trying to navigate my way I was finding more temples not on the map. This was confusing me as to whether I should walk over to them detouring and confusing me off my route, or should I continue on my set path?
There was one cement style building I did feel it was worth going over to. Rather than detailed paintings or carvings, the exterior is just made simply from plain cement. However, it was moulded and sculpted into very detailed carvings and figures running all the way up the cement pillars and equally detailed cement carvings on the outside walls.
The temple roof was also quite elaborate with so many levels and different carvings on each like a small collection of fireworks, but hard to photograph in a closely built up area
Eventually I made it to the SE end of Zhongshan Rd where there were three temples together. This was a combination of academy and temple serving multiple uses. There was a large group of trumpeters outside rehearsing some future ceremony or parade.
The Wenkai Academy and Wenchang Temple was a complex of different buildings with doorways and passages connecting them all. By this time it was too many temples to take in so I wasnt photographing as much.
As I left to head back to the centre where the bus terminals were I passed by Xingan Temple. This was almost like a small home on two levels. The upper level had large figures covered in plastic to protect them. The lower level stored different procession carriages.
Finally I managed to locate Nine Turns Lane. This was a small residential laneway that bent at almost 90 degrees alternating from left to right at various points.
Rather than walking all the way back to the bus terminal I had arrived from I noticed there were other bus companies so asked if I could get a bus back to Taichung. The Ho Hsin Bus counter at the main intersection in the centre of town had buses departing regularly for $94 TWD ($3.10)
Since I had paid $26 TWD by train to Changhua and then $53 TWD by bus to Lugang it seemed about right to pay $94 TWD to go direct back to Taichung rather than retrace my steps. I was tired from a days walking in two towns and needed the rest
Lugang is certainly worth a visit and should not be overlooked. Its probably best to spend a whole day exploring more leisurely as there is so much to see
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