Attention: This is another picture-heavy post. Enjoy, especially since I didn't take any pictures last week and since these are the only pictures I took this week (which is a real shame, actually, because in AK we were playing pin the ___ on the ___. Monday was pin the nose on the pig, and I told the kids they had to tape their pig noses to their faces before they could have a turn. I am SO SAD I didn't have my camera with me that day!).
Yesterday was our Stake Temple day. Because I had to work in the morning, though, I wasn't able to leave Feng Yuan until after all the other girls who were going up to Taipei. This meant I was traveling by myself! Was I worried? Yes. Very. I can't even begin to tell you how anxious I was feeling. Kylie gave me a ride to the UBus station on her scooter, though, and then I was off on my own! Thankfully, Jenny had written me several very detailed instructions on how to get to the temple so that I wouldn't get lost. Because of that, it was a piece of cake! There was only one part when I wasn't sure which direction I needed to head, and that was when I first got to the MRT station (the MRT is like the BART in the Bay Area or the Subway in NY). I was able to spot a couple of guys wearing MRT uniforms, though, so I just went up to one of them with my MRT map in hand and pointed to the stop where I wanted to go. He spoke enough English to direct me to my platform, and I was set! The last session at the temple on Saturdays starts at 3:00, and it takes quite a while to get up to Taipei by bus. So by the time I got off of the MRT, I was a little pressed for time. I practically ran past the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial to the temple. It's a 15-minute walk from where the MRT lets off to the temple gates, but I made it in 7 minutes. And I was dying by the time I got there, but it was fine! I also took a few pictures (as I was running) so that I had something to refer to if I started to question myself about the direction I was heading when I left the temple.
The MRT station: The According Man was there ALL DAY. Heather said he was there when they arrived in the morning (they would have gotten there around 10 or 11), and he was still there as we were leaving last night (at about 7:00). He was kind of amazing. I cut him out of this picture, but there was a guy video-taping According Man at the same time I took the picture.
Then there were a bunch of random pictures on the wall, so of course I had to keep record of the cat pictures. I didn't have time to read what they were all about (yes, there were signs in English).
Running past part of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial
Don't worry. Still running past. Also, that building in the background is where I was going to meet the other girls.
I had 10 minutes to get dressed before the session started; I don't think I've ever changed so fast in my life! ALSO, Jenny was still there! She told me later, "Rachel, I've never been so happy to see your face!" She was pretty worried I might get lost somewhere, too (there are valid reasons for these worries; even though it's been two months -almost to the day!- I still don't know where I am half the time when we go out). Anyway, it was a very nice session, but also very full. They actually had to bring in 2 or 3 extra chairs because there weren't enough seats for everyone. A lot of prayers have been answered for me this weekend, and I'm very grateful for my Heavenly Father's ever watchful eye.
After the session, Jenny and I bid each other farewell. I was supposed to meet with Heather, Kaylee, and Jessica at the main Chiang Kai-shek monument at 5:30. I left the temple at 5:00, but I took my time getting there. First I took a few pictures of the temple. There was a little family there taking pictures of their son, too, and it was kind of adorable.
The backpack is mine. I was too lazy to lug it around the temple grounds with me.
Pretty sure this is the smallest temple EVER (OK, I haven't checked the statistics; there might be smaller temples, but it's by far the smallest one I have ever been to), but I think it is still by far my favorite place to visit in Taiwan.
I wish I would have written down what this sculpture was called. It's kind of pretty (albeit very abstract), and there's even a waterfall!
Ginger plants grow in a planter on the sidewalk. I love the purple in this one.
Then I saw this building. Alright, so most of the buildings in this part of Taipei look kind of run-down. This one, though, was extra special. Can you tell what's on the roof? Here. Let me enlarge it for you:
Yup. Statues of Buddha. I don't even know.
So, the grounds for Chiang Kai-shek memorial is HUGE. There are botanical gardens and a park, and just all kinds of gorgeous scenery. I wanted to make sure I got to the top of the monument at least fairly-close to our meet-up time, so I didn't spend very long walking around. I did, however, take a few pictures before I got to the actual monument.
A cat, just taking it easy. There are stray animals everywhere in Taiwan, but most of the ones you see are dogs.
A really cool tree
Some purple flowers growing on some type of vine (I know; I'm great at this description thing!)
And the monument itself. There are 89 stairs to the top. Yes, I counted all of them. Also, I learned that the stairs and the fact that there are 89 of them is supposed to be in representation of how old Chiang Kai-shek was when he died in 1975. It sounds like a lot, but it really wasn't any worse than climbing up the stairs here at the school from the first floor to the fourth, which we all do several times a day.
Heather and Kaylee made it! I was so happy to see them. Jessica showed up shortly after.
I just bought this skirt on Wednesday. It's very light-weight and I love it, even if it isn't the skirt I was planning on buying.
The ceiling of the monument
Please look carefully at these next two pictures. Inside of the monument, there's an exhibition hall where they have a diorama of the monument.
Did you see anything wrong with those pictures? You may have to click on them to enlarge them. Don't worry. There are two dead people. One of them, it appears, fell down the stairs and is lying on his back (see the first image). The second dead man is lying face first, so I think something very dramatic and violent happened to him, but maybe he just had a heart-attack. Kaylee took a picture of this, too, using my red-eye light (or whatever it's called; I'm drawing a blank right now) for dramatic effect. I'm hoping she posts it on her blog, because it was hilarious.
The man himself. You only thought he was dead! (Seriously, this thing is very realistic. It's actually kind of creepy. You keep expecting it to move, but, thankfully, it never does.)
The exhibition hall closes at 6:00, so we made our way back outside to go sit on the steps. It was a perfect evening, though. There was a slight breeze, and the sky was so blue! We couldn't have asked for a better day.
They did a flag ceremony as we were sitting on the steps enjoying the sunset. Some guards marched out to the flag, they played the national anthem, and it was very patriotic. If you look closely, you can see a man saluting. He is near the center of the frame with his wife and two kids.
Folding the flag (on 20x zoom, so it's kind of blurry, but we were sitting quite a ways away)
See? Gorgeous sunset!
And a final look at the promenade as we were leaving.
Meanwhile, there is a Typhoon warning for all of Taiwan. WE REALLY WANT THIS TYPHOON TO HIT! There may or may not be school tomorrow. Because we live in the central western part of Taiwan, we are pretty well protected by the mountains and everything, so don't worry about that. Also, we all kind of want to see what these legendary typhoons are like, since there haven't been ANY since we got here!