METRO PLUS

2 Tao temple, Checheng

Driving back from the Chimei museum, you’ll chance upon a magnificent structure that rises to the sky — the Fuangong Tao temple. Walk up the steps to enter an ornate hall gilded in shades of gold. Our guide, the well-read Francis Hu, explains that this is a gong (temple or palace) of fortune (Fuang).

There’s the deep reverberation of drums and cymbals as people of all ages walk in (you’re allowed to wear footwear) bearing gifts for the lord.

These can range from fruits and rice to meat and sweetmeats, because the Tao philosophy believes all are equal. A lady rolls two numbered wooden pieces painted red and looks expectantly towards the altar. She’s asking if she can go ahead with what she’s planning, translates Francis. On getting a positive nod, she’ll walk towards a counter with a paper bearing the same number as the pieces rolled, and follow what it says. Someone from our team tries it — she’s told she’ll have more children!

The countryside is dotted with these structures that diligently bring together design and devotion.

We spot one en route to the museum in Tainan. Two columns rise up, and guarding them are a dragon and a tiger.

Water lilies bloom in the background, and boys indulge in a spot of waveboarding — spirituality and sport fuse seamlessly.

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