The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Water lilies, pagodas and temples @ Lotus Lake, Kaohsiung (Taiwan)

I am slowly, but surely, working through my photos from our March trip to Kaohsiung. On the morning of our third day in Kaohsiung, we decided to go bike-free and give our tired legs and bottoms a day's rest from cycling. We hopped on the MRT and headed north for Lotus Lake, a popular tourist destination famous for the lotus plants and the numerous temples around the lake. We arrived at the Ecological District MRT station around 9:40am, enquired with the MRT staff about which bus to take to Lotus Lake, got to the bus stop only to discover that the bus ran on a one-hourly frequency, and that we'd just missed one. There was a playground near the bus stop where we let our son burn off some energy while I tried to figure out the next step. After ascertaining from the area map provided inside the MRT that the lake was only 1 kilometre away, we decided to walk it instead of waiting another 45 minutes for the next bus or catching the taxi. Walking is a great way to explore a new area, so we set out with gusto. Only we discovered about two-thirds of the way there that there was a train track that doesn't allow a straightforward passage through to the lake, and we had to walk half a kilometre along the train track before we reached a pedestrian bridge to cross over the track. Thankfully the route went through the beautiful Indigenous Plant Garden, and it wasn't really a detour as it led us southwards to the part of the lake where most of the interesting stuff were located. So the 30-minute walk actually took an hour, but look at how much we'd have missed if we took the bus/taxi straight to the pagodas and temples on the western side of the lake:

An ornate and colourful pillar by the lake just beyond the pedestrian bridge that crosses over the rail track and highway:

A gorgeous man-made lotus pond along the pedestrian pathway around the southern part of Lotus Lake:

Two of the many beautiful water lilies we admired in the pond:

A panoramic shot of Lotus Lake from the south-eastern part of the lake, and several temples, pagodas and pavilions can be seen dotting the western side of the lake. Lotus Lake was the site of several water sporting events of the World Games 2009, and you can spot some contraptions in the water which I presume was from that sports event (click on image for a larger view):

Crossing a bridge:

When we got to the first point of interest, the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, I was eager to enter the Dragon's mouth, explore each tower, and then exit the Tiger's mouth. Unfortunately for us (and hundreds of other tourists), both pagodas were closed for construction/renovation, so we had to make do with viewing from the outside.

We came to the Tiger Pagoda first from the south:

The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, with signs plastered across each entrance preventing entry:

The Dragon Pagoda from the side:

Cih Ji Palace, a temple directly across the road from the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas:

The entrance to Cih Ji Palace, with intricate stone carvings:

A view inside the Cih Ji Palace, with rich and ornate decorations:

The Spring and Autumn Pavilions, two Chinese palace-style pavilions with the 5-Mile Pavilion in between with a long (but not quite 5 miles) pier. See if you can spot the artist sitting under the shade of a blue umbrella working on a drawing/painting (click on image for larger view):

There are thousands of turtles in the half-moon pond in front of the Spring and Autumn Pavilions:

Preparing to be swallowed by the dragon:

Inside the dragon's belly were lots of paintings telling a story:

A graceful crane walking in the lake:

Walking all the way down the long pier to the 5-Mile Pavilion, where there were a few kitschy coin-operated rides for kids which I thought was rather oddly placed. It amused our 4.5-year-old boy, though he refused to ride one:

There were more to see around Lotus Lake, but we had reached the point of exhaustion after too much walking, and it was close to lunch time. The midday sun was also quite hot and unrelenting, and we decided viewing one temple and several pavilions were enough, so we hailed a cab and took a ride back to the MRT station.

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