Taipei // Confucius and Bao An Temples

my very first day as an expat in Taiwan, I fell head over heels for the colorfully scaled and curly whiskered dragons that top the temples here.

Taiwan has more temples per capita than any other country in the world. some are massive complexes attached to monestaries or built into mountainsides, and some are barely bigger than a phone booth. you'll find temples sandwiched between convenience stores and dumpling shops, hiding on hiking trails or down alleys only wide enough for a scooter. I've seen my fair share of temples, but with over 15,000 on the island... I've barely begun to scratch the surface.

a few weeks ago, though, I finally crossed two major temples off my list: Taipei's Confucius Temple, and the UNESCO award-winning Dalongdong Bao An Temple. while the history and details on both these temples would each merit their own blog post, I'm combining them here because A: they are practically neighbors in location and B: I'm not going to look up the guidebook facts to relay to you because I trust in your capacity to use google 😉

Taipei Confucius Temple

ok, before I say anything about the temple can we take a moment to appreciate how adorable these Confucius figures are? Taiwan loves to make things cute and cartoonish, and even revered historical and religious figures cannot escape the cute-ification.

cartoon Confucius aside, the temple grounds are spacious and well maintained. they are also very tourist-friendly. at the entrance there is a visitor's center with guides and information available in English and about 12 other languages. they offer tours, video presentations, educational exhibits, and a special ceremony for viewing each year on Confucius' birthday. there's even a gift shop and café.

I was surprised to see how ornate this temple was [dragons!] compared to the Confucius Temple in Kaohsiung. it definitely was not the prettiest or most elaborate I've seen, but it was large and full of [English!] information regarding both Confucius and the temple.

just across the street, however...

Dalongdong Bao An Temple

if you're into bright colors, intricate details, and dragons [duh!] then this is the temple for you. I don't like to play favorites but Bao An is definitely in my top 5. the restoration and upkeep they have done on all the tile work and painting is just stunning -- and quite literally award-winning. there were just so many details to take in. every time I looked at the same structure I would notice something new.

the layout felt spacious and unique, and thankfully was free from hordes of tourists that tend to clog up the more popular Longshan Temple. [sorry Longshan, a trip to the Confucius and Bao An Temples will be my new go-to for showing around visitors.]

I'm not sure if the hand painted lanterns are always there, or it they were left up from the recent festival. they were clearly student work from nearby schools. [and wow, some of those kids are talented!]

I also loved the abundance of plants arranged around the grounds. everything felt so serene -- definitely #goodvibesonly coming out of Bao An that day.

how to get there

take the red line of the MRT to Yuanshan Station. exit 2 [at the north end of the station] will put you right on Kulun Street, which you can follow west to the temples. follow the brown tourism signs [in English] and you can be at either in 5-8 minutes... or just keep your eyes open for dragons.


a life update

I try to make it a policy not to apologize for a lack of posting, but woah. I haven't consistently blogged since last October. there are several good excuses reasons that I've been absent from pretty much everything [except instagram] but now that life has settled down a bit, I hope to get back to blogging.

in true Jamie fashion, I'm going to start with a list-style post. here's a bit of a life update to catch you up on the last six months.

I wrote a book.

no really, I wrote a book! I completed NaNoWriMo -- that's writing 50,000 words of a novel during the month of Novmber -- and raised over $250 to help support education for girls around the world with the Malala Fund. and once November ended, I kept writing. it took me another 2 weeks to complete the first draft of my manuscript. but I did it.

I took a break for a bit after I finished, went back to read it with fresh eyes, and... it's really good! however, furiously writing a book in just over a month did not allow for the depth of character development and sub-plotting that I want my story to have. so now I am working on revising and restructuring, and weaving in new [and really awesome] threads to my manuscript.

I went to New Zealand. again.

just 48 hours after I completed my first draft, Husband and I boarded a plane for a two week trip through New Zealand. and it was amazing. we revisited some of our favorite places [like Queenstown and Lake Tekapo] explored new areas [hello, Wanaka] and got a second chance to experience places where we had bad weather last time [Mount Cook!] I even got to hang out with my brother! we had fantastic weather, and a lot of wine.

you probably saw me on instagram living that #campervanlife and gushing over mountain views. obviously I have a lot of new blogging material from our travels. [obviously I have a lot of blogging material stockpiled, period.]

we moved to a new apartment.

maybe a week after our return from New Zealand, we found out our landlord would not renew our lease this summer because he wanted to sell our apartment. if we waited until June to move, it would be right in the middle of our hosting visitors... so we decided to just go for it. searching for apartments can be a process, and when you add in a language barrier? well. one realtor showed me an apartment that had a propane-tank powered camp stove on the balcony as the "kitchen." and someone else tried to convince me I could afford a place $1,000 USD/month over my requested budget.

regardless, I went full-throttle into apartment hunting mode. it took me less than 3 weeks from the time I began searching until move-in day. we ended up finding an amazing place. the kitchen and bathrooms are brand new, the floors are a gorgeous Taiwan marble tile, and it's a 5 minute walk to the MRT station. but my favorite part? we have mountain views from our balcony!

[which I somehow don't have a photo of to share?!?!?]

I've been exploring... everywhere.

somehow, even with all that going on, I still managed to get out and see some new parts of Taipei and Taiwan in general. I have been exploring both with new friends and old, by foot and by car, in the city and on the coast. some of the highlights include an overnight trip to Jiufen, finally making it to Dihua Street during Chinese New Year, and crossing Confucius and Bao An off my Taipei temple bucket list.

our new apartment is in a more central location, and so I've been walking everywhere around our neighborhood. I have easy access to the river trails and several parks, and have found so many adorable alleys to explore. Taiwan's spring season is short, but gorgeous while it lasts. I've been taking advantage of the weather before it goes into full-on melty mode.

I read a TON of great books.

last summer I finally bought a Kindle [which is crazy if you know how much I read] and also figured out my hometown's online library system. so I've been reading even more voraciously than usual. my taste is pretty varied -- I love everything from memoir and biography to historical fiction and paranormal romance. but lately I've been on a dark YA fantasy kick. there were a few books that I wasn't into [and one series I abandoned reading] but these 5 books/series were my favorites from the past months:

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Queen of the Tearling [3 book series] by Erika Johansen
Uprooted by Naomi Novak
Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

other than that...

ok there was still a lot that happened [hello, new blog design!] but we covered most of the big items. now that I am settling back into a schedule -- and have finally found a coffee shop that opens before 11am -- I have high hopes for blogging more consistently.

and possibly figuring out how to end my posts more gracefully? or maybe not. whatever.

mostly, it just feels good to be typing in this space again.

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