Thursday, January 19, 2012

DAY III -- Cemetery Visit and Qixingtan

    Just before we visited Jian Chinxiu Temple, we took a small backside road which also goes to Qixington for stopping at public cemetery area for my sister-in-law. She likes to visit cemeteries when she travels. Our driver was surprised that we asked to stop at the cemetery. 
     There is a cultural difference. Most Taiwanese avoid passing by any cemetery and don't even ask to visit one. Cemetaries are much different in the United States. But for our American's friends, they were not afraid at all and enjoyed the visited. They asked all kind of questions like if it was a family tomb or what the characters on the grave mean, etc. 
     I whispered to the rested spirits, " Sorry, we bother your peace. My friends are just interested in looking at your houses and taking some pictures. I hope you don't mind." I was told to respect human beings and all the spirits when I grew up.  

     This cemetery is different than the west of Taiwan as I know. Some of them are family tombs which heavily used the tiles. It is more luxuries than the west.  In the west, most tombs are individual space with concrete layouts. It might be the geography differences or the residents' cultures and religions. 
There is a Tomb Sweeping Festival on April 5 each year. The descendants will go to their ancestors tombs to clear up the weeds and also pay their respects to their ancestors. But, after the  Tomb Sweeping Festival, the weeds start growing and no body seems care about it anymore until next year. However, it offers the best food resources for the migrant birds and the Gray-faced-Buzzard Hawk. Before they fly back to the northern region, they come to Taiwan as a midway rest stop in April.  After removing and burning the overgrown weeds, small animals, like snakes and rats have no places to hide. That is why it offers the best food resources for the migrant birds. 
A Lion guards the resting spirit and also shows the family's reputation and wealth.  
The above three pictures were contributed by Ann & Ted


     It was not far away to Qixingtan from the cemetery. Sometimes, you might hear people called Qixingtan as Seven Star Lakes. Nowadays Qixingtan refers to a crescent bay with a pebbles beach next to the pacific ocean. There were 7 lakes near by the bay area before Japan occupied Taiwan from 1895 to 1945. When people asked the local people where they lived in the old days, the locals would say Qixingtan. After Japan took over Taiwan, the Japanese government filled most of the lakes up with dirt for building an air field during the war. That is how and why the name came from and the change in the landscape. 
     There is a bicycle trail next to the beach. The bike trail is connected to the city and also there are some bikes for renting along the trail. It is an enjoyable ride if you have time and love outdoor activities.   

Next to the bay is Hualien Air Force Base. This C-130 just took off from the base and flew over us .
Pacific Wave: I don't see surfers surfing in this area. It may not be a good place for them.
People from Wisconsin enjoyed listening to the sound of the ocean  
Another Aspect of the Food Vendors
If there is any well-known tourist spot in Taiwan, there are food vendors, even on some hiking trails. Most vendors sell local agricultural products like this vendor who sells baked sweet potatos. Also the most common vendor is selling BBQ Chinese style sausages. If you go to the aboriginal areas, the most common type of food is their traditional BBQ boar, which uses stone slabs as the BBQ surface and only adds some salt for the flavor. It is delicious and I really like it   
The outfit of the vendor
     After we left Qixingtan, we stopped by the Hualien Winery on the way to Hualien city. Actually, it is not a winery. It makes liquors. If people ask you "do you want to have some wine" in Taiwan, you must be careful. For the word wine, it most times refers to liquors, even I sometimes make the  mistake for saying wine instead of liquors. The Chinese character of wine implies to any wines and liquors. We tasted some liquors but it didn't meet our expectation for having real wine.  

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