The temple is beautiful and you can't miss it if you are in the area. However, if you want to see the place up close and personal, you have to be pretty determined - it's a pretty long and steep hike (if you don't have a car).
Personally, I really like to learn about religions that differ from my own, so being in a country that is 35.1% Buddhist and 35% Taoist (while a mere 2.6% Protestant and 1.3% Catholic) lends itself toward such an endeavor. I figured that visiting a temple would really help me understand a little more about the religious practices here, as well as back in the U.S., where 5-6 million Buddhists live.
While we were in the temple, I felt pretty awkward. I was very out of place and the people there knew it. It was hopeless to try to communicate with anyone (our Chinese is what you would call "basically non-existant"), which was unfortunate - I would have liked to understand what was going on a little more. However, here is what I did observe:
- A man worshiping before an idol. The man burned incense, bowed, and then proceeded to drop to his knees, bow some more, and recite chants/prayers that I couldn't understand.
- A group of people who walked together with their large incense burning, very reverential and purposeful in their walking.
- A general silence about the place. Every once in a while I would see people having a conversation, but for the most part, there was a reverent silence.
- The temple had a wash station, vending machines, and other things I didn't expect. It would definitely encourage someone to remain there as long as possible - ideally worshiping your entire life as someone who works in the temple.
Here are a few pictures of the temple and what went on while we were there. I achieved a life goal by visiting this temple, which is great, but I have definitely been changed by my experience there.