Definitely a tad cooler on the Four Beasts this morning – though not enough to prevent me from sweating buckets for most of the hike. Even after thirty years in Taiwan, my body has never quite been able to adjust to the humid climate.
Today’s hike took me up to Jiuwufeng and then on to Elephant Mountain. Between the two peaks is a delightful little shrine nestled below Muzhi Mountain. It’s dedicated to Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy, and a host of other Buddhist and Daoist deities. Many people stop there to pray with an incense stick before going on their way. It’s one of my favorite spots along the trail.
Further down from this shrine is the much grander Songshan Lingyin Temple. This is dedicated to Mazu, the Goddess of the Sea, and has a very different vibe with its haunting statues that stand on both sides of the road leading up to the main complex. I wouldn’t say that the temple is my cup of tea, but it’s definitely worth a slight detour from the main path to Elephant Mountain.
Not surprisingly, Elephant Mountain itself was quite crowded when I got there in stark contrast to the much quieter upper reaches of the trail. It was wonderful to see so many couples, families, and groups of friends out enjoying the fresh air and natural beauty of the hillside – not to mention the great views of 101 and the rest of the city.
It is mornings like this that remind me how much I love living in Taipei. I may not have quite got used to the climate, but the myriad other pleasures this city of contrasts offers more than make up for it in so many different ways.