Visiting Dragon-Tiger Pagodas, Kaohsiung.

My trip when going back from Fo Guang Shan ended at Kaohsiung Main Station and was greeted by little drizzle which began to fall.

My time began to be counted down during 2 hours from that time because the next destination would close precisely at 5 pm.

I took my KPP Taiwan Pass out. I got it at Kaohsiung International Airport MRT Station a day before. I immediately moved towards Ecological District Station.

KPP Pass is a cloud-based pass card which used in three regions i.e Kaohsiung, Pingtung, Penghu (three major cities in southern Taiwan)

Finding a bus shelter and waiting for bus no. R35A to get access towards Lotus Lake would be my next step. I waved my hand when bus was fastly running at Bo’ai 3rd Road towards me. Maybe the driver thought that there wasn’t passenger at bus shelter. Nimbly stepping aside, finally bus stopped in front of me.

Apparently the driver was a woman, asking me about where is my destination in Taiwan language made me speechless.

I: “Dragon-Tiger Pagodas, Mam”

Driver: shake her head, her eyes were closed and raised her hand as surrender sign that she didn’t understand my words.

I: “Hahahaha …….”

Driver: looked like a little annoyed when I laugh.

I: “Wait … wait”. I took my smartphone out, I looked for the pagoda image which I meant and I showed it to her.

Driver: “A little shouted excitedly….yeah….yeah….while thumbing up.

After paying USD 0,5 by entering my coin into the fare box, I stood behind.

It took 10 minutes only to arrive at Lotus Lake and finally the twin pagodas were clearly visible.

Kaohsiung bear doll like its image in my KPP Taiwan Pass

Panda is an iconic animal in Taiwan, so you will often meet its profile in public places. I found it at this pagoda also.

If you want buy souvenirs, enter that building!

Visitor Souvenir Center

Entering pagodas area, clearly seen the Dragon statue and the Tiger one:

According to the myth, I must enter from dragon mouth and come out from tiger mouth….And I would luck.

This seven-story pagodas with yellow floors and red pillars emit a solemn aura in the middle of Lotus Lake.

Lotus Lake as far as eye can see.

Opposite in front of Pagodas stand the magnificent Tzu Chi Palace

I left Lotus Lake on 16:45 to looking for dinner at Kaisyuan Night Market.

My confusion was started here, I didn’t know which bus number must I take and where I must go. At that time, I just used map and compass when traveling there, I didn’t use Google Maps just for save my budget because I didn’t need to buy internet quota. So as long as I don’t get WiFi, then my presence in a country willn’t be detected … It’s cool, I am like CIA agent….Hahaha

If I am confused, I will randomly take a city bus….wherever. Then I will stop near famous spots which I’ve learned before visiting that country. Finally, I randomly took a bus that afternoon. And in confusion, I finally saw Kaohsiung Arena (the biggest soccer stadium in Kaohsiung). I stopped at its nearest bus stop. Either it was free or driver didn’t know, I never tap my KPP pass on automatic fare machine.

There is Kaohsiung Arena MRT Station near it.

From this station, I finally managed to find Kaisyuan Night Market.

It was a little crazy adventure, bro …

Visiting Fo Guang Shan Monastery, Kaohsiung

That morning 8:27 am, I was getting ready to deeply explore Kaohsiung. A sliver of toast, a banana and a cup of tea became a free breakfast which provided by the hostel that morning.

felt like at home

Apparently, That Vietnamese and Indo-American backpackers were still asleep in Paper Plane Hostel’s clean and soft beds. They certainly enjoyed traveling in their ways which were different from mine. They looked more relax than me who is always agile everywhere for chasing time. My minimum budget that required me to visit many destinations in shorter vacation time.

Yes, I only slept in this cool hostel for a night because in next morning I would check out and leave my backpack at reception. I would take back it after completing my visitation on my last day in Kaohsiung.

MRT slowly moved away from Houyi Station and drove me to Kaohsiung Main Station.

My eyes were immediately aware from an existence of bus terminal near this MRT station.

Yess … I was indeed hunting for a bus towards the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan i.e Fo Guang Shan.

What is Fo Guang Shan? …..

Based on a reference which I got, It was an order in Buddhism that was very well-known in its efforts to modernize Buddhism in China. Because this order is very technologically literate … That’s about it.

In several minutes, I din’t see yet a bus number 8010 or 8011 which came into terminal, finally I asked someone who I thought he was a bus timer.

Bus station near Kaohsing Main Station

Maybe, because of often ask by tourists, it doesn’t take long time for him to understand my question. And I was asked to wait for the bus at end side of terminal.

Finally, The bus arrived.…got in it from front door, I asked driver whether the bus was really heading there. After saying “yes”, I immediately paid for about USD 2 and he gave me a ticket.

The journey began:

The joy of that day began with a pinky interior.

35 km journey with 45 minutes travel time was unable to make my eyes closed against my preoccupation on observing charms of Kaohsiung streets. Observing local people’s activities and passing various landmarks made me stunned along the way.

The front yard before entering monastery

I finally arrived …

There is no charge for entering this Buddhist monastery. Through front lobby, I found several shops which sell jewelry and souvenirs and several coffee shops (one of them is Starbuck) also.

I wasn’t interested in this area because I didn’t carry an adequate budget….Immediately come out and I found an incredible view:

Size of monastery plaza is very wide and became a camera’s target by anyone who visited this place.

Get close to Buddha statue! … surely you will be more impressed:

Under Buddha statue is location of Buddhist Museum and there are several prayer rooms for visitors.

I was also welcome to entering worship room to just see how worship procession do.

1.5 hours was a very valuable time because I could visit this place.

I closed my hunger by eating a serving of dinsum. I got it from a canteen which located in parking lot in front of monastery.

By the way, it was on 13:15 hrs.… I still had a lot of time … Where was my next destination?

Wisata Dragon-Tiger Pagodas, Kaohsiung.

Perjalananku kembali dari Fo Guang Shan berakhir di Kaohsiung Main Station dan disambut dengan gerimis kecil yang mulai turun.

Waktuku mulai dihitung mundur 2 jam dari saat itu karena destinasi berikutnya akan ditutup tepat pukul 5 sore.

Kukeluarkan KPP Taiwan Pass yang kudapatkan di Kaohsiung International Airport MRT Station sehari sebelumnya. Aku segera bergerak menuju Ecological District Station.

KPP Pass adalah kartu pass berbasis cloud yg digunakan didaerah Kaohsiung, Pingtung, Penghu (Tiga kota besar di selatan Taiwan)

Menemukan halte dan menunggu bus bernomor R35A untuk mendapatkan akses menuju Lotus Lake menjadi tahapan berikutnya. Kulambaikan tangan ketika bus itu berjalan lumayan kencang di Bo’ai 3rd Road menuju kearahku. Mungkin si sopir mengira di halte tak ada penumpang. Menepi dengan gesit, akhirnya bus berhenti sedikit melewatiku.

Ternyata sopir itu perempuan, menanyakan tujuanku dalam bahasa Taiwan membuatku menjadi speechless.

Aku: “Dragon-Tiger Pagodas, Mam”

Doi: geleng-geleng kepala, matanya terpejam dan sembari mengangkat tangah pertanda menyerah tak mengerti dengan ucapanku.

Aku: “hahahaha…….”

Doi : terlihat sedikit sebal ketika Aku tertawa.

Aku : “Wait….wait”

Kukeluarkan smartphone, kucari gambar pagoda yang kumaksud dan kutunjukkan ke doi.

Doi : “Sedikit teriak girang…..ya…ya..ya…sambil mengacungkan jempol.

Setelah membayar TWD 15 (Rp. 6.000) dengan memasukkan koinku ke fare box, Aku berdiri di belakang.

Hanya perlu waktu 10 menit untuk sampai di Lotus Lake dan akhirnya pagoda kembar itu terlihat dengan jelasnya.

Kaohsiung bear seperti yang ada dalam gambar KKP Taiwan Pass ku

Panda adalah hewan ikonik di Taiwan, jadi Kamu akan sering menemui profilnya di tempat-tempat umum. Aku menemukannya di pagoda ini.

Jika Kamu mau membeli kenang-kenangan masuklah ke bangunan itu:

Visitor Souvenir Center

Memasuki area pagoda, terlihat sangat jelas si Naga dan Si Harimau:

Katanya Aku harus masuk dari mulut Naga dan keluar dari mulut Harimau….biar lucky.

Pagoda tujuh lantai berwarna kuning dan berpilar merah ini memang memancarkan aura kekhusyukan tersendiri di tengah luasnya Lotus Lake.

Lotus Lake sejauh mata memandang.

Diseberang depan Pagoda berdiri megah Istana Tzu Chi

Jam 16:45 Aku meninggalkan Lotus Lake untuk mencari makan malam di Kaisyuan Night Market.

Disinilah kebingungan dimulai, Aku tak tahu harus naik bus nomor berapa dan menuju kemana. Zaman itu, Aku keliling hanya bermodalkan peta dan kompas, paling anti menggunakan google maps. Apalagi kalau tidak untuk berhemat. Jadi selama tak mendapatkan WiFi, maka keberadaanku di sebuah negara tak akan terdeteksi…..Keren kan kaya agen CIA.

Jika sudah bingung begitu, Aku biasanya akan sembarang naik bus kota….kemanapun. Lalu akan berhenti di dekat spot-spot terkenal yang sudah kupelajari sebelum berangkat ke negara itu. Nah kebetulan Aku naik bus secara acak sore itu dan dalam kebingungan akhirnya Aku melihat Kaohsiung Arena (stadion sepakbola terbesar di Kaohsiung). Aku pun berhenti di halte terdekat dan entah waktu itu memang gratis atau sopir yang tidak tahu, Aku tak pernah menempelkan KPP pass-ku di automatic fare machine.

Nah didekat stadium ini terdapat Stasiun MRT Kaohsiung Arena.

Dari stasiun inilah akhirnya Aku berhasil menemukan Kaisyuan Night Market.

Seru sedikit gila ini mah….

Mengunjungi Biara Fo Guang Shan, Kaohsiung

Tepat pukul 8:27 pagi itu, Aku sudah bersiap diri untuk mengekplore Kaohsiung lebih dalam. Sekerat toast, sebuah pisang dan teh manis hangat menjadi sarapan gratis yang disediakan hostel pagi itu.

serasa seperti di rumah

Rupanya Vietnamese dan Indo-American backpacker itu masih terlelap di bersih dan empuknya kasur Paper Plane Hostel. Mereka tentu menikmati jalan-jalan dengan cara yang berbeda denganku. Terlihat mereka lebih santai daripada Aku yang selalu lincah kesana kemari berkejaran dengan waktu. Kondisiku dompetku lah yang mengharuskanku untuk mengunjungi berbagai destinasi dalam waktu liburan yang lebih pendek.

Ya, Aku hanya semalam meniduri hostel keren ini karena pagi harinya Aku akan check-out dan menitipkan backpack di resepsionis. Aku akan mengambilnya setelah menyelesaikan misi di hari terakhirku.

MRT perlahan menjauh dari Houyi Station dan menghantarkanku ke Kaohsiung Main Station.

Mataku segera menyadari akan keberadaan terminal bus di dekat stasiun ini.

Yess….Aku memang sedang berburu bus menuju ke biara Buddha terbesar di Taiwan yaitu Fo Guang Shan.

Apa sih Fo Guang Shan?…..

Referensi yang kudapatkan adalah sebuah ordo dalam Buddhisme yang sangat terkenal dalam upayanya memodernisasi Buddhisme di Tiongkok. Oleh karena ordo ini sangat melek teknologi….Begitulah kira-kira.

Celingukan tak pernah menemui bus bernomor 8010 atau 8011, akhirnya Aku bertanya pada seorang yang kufikir dia adalah seorang bus timer.

terminal bus di dekat Kaohsing Main Station

Mungkin karena sering ditanya turis, tak butuh waktu lama baginya untuk memahami pertanyaanku. Dan Aku diminta menunggu bus di ujung terminal.

Bus datang juga akhirnya….menaikinya dari pintu depan Aku menanyakan ke sang sopir apakah benar bus menuju ke sana. Setelah mengiyakan maka Aku segera membayar TWD 80 (sekitar Rp. 30.000) dan dia menukarnya dengan sebuah tiket.

Perjalanan pun dimulai:

keceriaan hari itu dimulai dengan pinky interior.

Perjalanan 35 km dengan 45 menit waktu tempuh tak mampu membuat mataku terpejam melawan keasyikanku mengamati pesona jalanan Kaohsiung. Mengamati aktivitas masyarakat dan melewati berbagai landmark membuatku tertegun sepanjang perjalanan.

bagian paling depan sebelum masuk

Akhirnya Aku tiba….

Tak dipungut biaya untuk memasuki biara Buddha ini. Melewati lobby depan, Aku menemukan beberapa pertokoan yang menjual perhiasan dan  souvenir serta beberapa coffee shop (Starbuck salah satunya).

Aku tak tertarik dengan area ini karena memang tak membawa budget yang memadai…Segera keluar dan Aku menemukan pemandangan yang luar biasa:

Ukuran plaza biara yang sangat luas dan menjadi sasaran kamera siapapun yang mengunjungi tempat ini.

Mendekatlah ke patung Buddha itu ! ….pasti Kamu akan lebih terkesan:

Dibawah patung Buddha itulah terletak Museum Buddha dan terdapat beberapa ruang peribadatan untuk para pengunjung.

Aku pun sempat dipersilahkan memasuki ruangan peribadatan untuk sekedar melihat bagaimana prosesi peribadatan kaum Buddha disana.

1,5 jam menjadi waktu yang sangat berharga karena bisa berkunjung ke tempat ini.

Aku menutup kelaparanku dengan menyantap seporsi dinsum. Aku mendapatkannya dari sebuah kantin yang terletak di parkiran kendaraan  yang terletak di bagian paling depan biara.

Btw, masih jam 13:15…..masih ada waktu banyak nih….Kemana ya enaknya?.