A few weeks ago I went on a photowalk around Guandu (關渡) with some photographer friends and it led me back to Guandu Temple (關渡宮), one of my favourite temples in Taipei. I've already blogged about the temple before, so today being that it just so happens that it is Guanyin's birthday - I'm going to share a few photos of my favourite shrine in the temple and explain it a little bit as well as a funny experience that happened while at the temple.
The day of our photowalk it was forecast to rain, it had already rained for the entire of month of March and the weather was having a major effect on people's moods. Billy, the leader of the photowalk group thought about cancelling it the day before, but we all decided that we shouldn't let the weather get the best of us and we went anyway.
When we arrived at the temple, it hadn't started to rain, so I helped to lead people around the temple showing them the highlights and discussing random things about its construction. When we got to the Guanyin shrine, one of my favourite Buddhist shrines in all of Taiwan, one of the photowalkers asked me why there were two stone elephants guarding the door rather than the lions that most temples have. Truthfully I couldn't answer the question and I thought it was a bit strange myself as I had noticed earlier that they were designed in the Thai-style.
So instead of standing around and thinking about it, I walked into the shrine room and approached the attendant to ask her if she knew. She replied to me: "I don't understand your Chinese" (我聽不懂你的中文), so I repeated myself more slowly thinking that my Beijing accent and pace of speaking were too much for her.
After repeating my question in a very slow and clear manner she replied to me in broken Mandarin that she couldn't understand and asked if I could speak Taiwanese. I expect this kind of thing is common in the south of Taiwan, but in Taipei it's quite rare to find a local that can't speak Mandarin.
She eventually found a young woman who could speak Taiwanese and I asked her the question and she translated it for me.
The reply was: "I've no idea, ask someone else." Mystery unsolved.