Fo Guang Shan (佛光山) on Chinese New Year
I had the opportunity to visit the headquarters of Fo Guang Shan for Chinese New Year. It was my second trip to the place. The first time I went, sadly but perhaps also humorously, was on a day when the Buddha Museum was closed (pictured above- photo by me, BTW).
Going when it was closed was kinda neat, though. I had the whole place to myself. That was definitely not the case for Chinese New Year. I caught a ride from a temple in Kaohsiung and it took us about 30 minutes just to find parking. All the parking lots were full. The traffic in and around the HQ reminded me of rush hour in Jakarta.
The main hall was absolutely packed with people. I thought to myself that it is not difficult to admire the beauty of the place with so many people, but it is certainly difficult to feel a sense of peace in such a place when everyone is shoulder-to-shoulder.
I walked around a bit and sampled some of the foods being sold any one of probably 100 food carts lining the main walking path. I climbed to the 5th floor of one of the towers and waited for the sun to set.
The towers with crowded with photographers and tripods. Along the covered walkway were dozens of people taking selfies with the big Buddha in the background. The lights came on at 6pm and you could see the flash of several hundred cellphone cameras.
I was hoping to view the fireworks show that was to start at 7pm, but my van was also scheduled to go back to Kaohsiung at 7pm. I was waiting in line for a green onion pancake when the fireworks show started. It was madness. Everyone was trying to get a good picture of the fireworks with their cellphones. All I could do was laugh and wonder how many people were feeling more upset by the lack of good fireworks pictures on their phone than feeling a sense of awe at the fireworks show itself.
An interesting experience for suure. I’m glad I did it. But I certainly prefer slower and quieter things. Famous tourist sites are famous for a reason, but next time I go, it will probably go early on a weekday morning that is not a national holiday.