Notes from the field: Happy Lunar New Year of the Rat!

Happy Lunar New Year of the Rat

Happy Lunar New Year of the Rat! Let’s hope it improves quickly after such an inauspicious start in China.

Our Lunar New Year’s Eve celebrations were low-key, mainly I suspect because all our kids have grown up so there was none of the previous excitement that accompanied the distribution of red envelopes filled with shiny new notes. The food, on the other hand, was great. That’s one tradition that never changes no matter who is present.

Lunar New Year Meal

These past two mornings I’ve hiked up Wufengshan (九五峰) in the Four Beast Scenic Area, first to shake off my jet lag from my flying visit to Fremont and then to work off any extra pounds I may have put on at dinner last night. Yesterday the weather was cloudy, so the views weren’t that great. But that was more than compensated for by the lush and verdant forest that I went through along the Muzhi Mountain (拇指山), not mention a couple of charming hillside temples that I came across.

Happy Lunar New Year of the Rat

Today, the views of Taipei were much better and there were plenty of friendly Lunar New Year greetings from fellow hikers making their way up and down the peak. At the summit, there were even a couple of guys offering free cups of tea from a container that they had hauled up the mountain. What a generous display of community spirit!

Happy Lunar New Year of the Rat

On my way back to the MRT station, the Fengtian and Fude temples were packed with people welcoming the arrival of the Lunar New Year. The longer I live in Taiwan, the more I appreciate how its people have not only preserved but also enriched cultural and religious traditions that stretch back hundreds if not thousands of years. The sheer vibrancy of this magical place never ceases to amaze me.

Happy Lunar New Year of the Rat

For more information about the Muzhi Mountain Trail, please click here.

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