Mazu Temple beer garden

During our Dihua Street tour, we usually have a lunch at the Mazu temple beer garden, particularly if it is not raining. You can see a few photos of my guests there on this page. We order a few hot stir-fried dishes and bottles of beer from the simple seafood restaurants on the street around the temple. The staff are all friendly, but it's a casual atmosphere so there are no waiters telling us where to sit. We simply find an empty table and then go to the restauraunts to order. We share the experience with the local people under the banyan trees, eating and drinking in the middle of the temple courtyard. 

Although it looks like a simple place, the food is delicious here. The street restaurants that provide the food specialize in old-style Taipei cuisine. People order dishes like sauteed sea fish, stir-fried beef, deep fried tofu,  and red yeast pork belly. Most people eating here dress casually. Actually, to be honest, no one bothers to behave with great courtesy, though they are good-natured and friendly. They enjoy eating and drinking and talking loudly, I guess.

My favourite part of the experience here is that, after few bottles of beer, people start to talk about their lives. I love to hear those free and true life stories, which they don't even try to hide. Very often, as I sit at my table, I overhear a few sentences about someone's glorious past, their youthful romance, their aged resentment about someone, boasts of their working ability, their criticism of a politician, and so on.

The air outside the Mazu Temple is hot, aromatic, and spicy. Anyway, it's lively, it's filled with people’s lives. Even though people are a little drunk, and perhaps talk so loud it sounds like they are arguing or fighting, they are actually not violent or agressive -- they are just enjoying being themselves. They are exposed, in a way, almost naked. I really enjoy this open atmosphere. I feel free to be free here.

But just a few steps away from these happy and loud drinkers, people are going into the Mazu temple with their offerings, and praying to the Goddess. They pray about their life puzzles quietly. I guess they are praying for better fortune. The atmosphere inside the Mazu temple is holy, and the air inside there is kind of cool and calming.

In some ways, although Taiwanese culture is influenced by tradition, is also fairly accommodating. Foreigners are mostly welcomed and accepted, however they look or behave. In the same way, at many of the temples the Daoist gods and the Buddhist gods coexist. And at the Mazu temple, the sea godess even allows people to choose their own path through life: either eating, drinking and talking loudly about their lives, or praying quietly and wishing for a better future. It's up to you.




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