Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Relax in Taiwan--get a foot massage

Walk along any street in Taipei City, capital of Taiwan, and you’ll see a foot massage parlor on most corners. More popular here than Starbucks for a quick pick-me-up, a good rub-down of your feet and legs does the job nicely. Foot massage parlors can accommodate dozens of patrons at a time in comfortable massage chairs similar to what you might find in a nail salon in the U.S.
Food massage is a full-body activity
Anytime I hear massage, I’m on board, so during the port stop at Taipei City on our Southeast Asia cruise, we booked a tour that included this small luxury. Larry and I were lucky, though, because we were serviced lying on a regular massage table—even more conducive to total relaxation and a quick nap.

Larry preps for his massage.
After soaking our feet in individual bowls, we lay down and let each of our technicians go to work. Each lady massaged the lower leg and calf, kneading, stroking, pressing, and pounding to get all the kinks out. No buff and puff—this was an active massage. In fact, we had been taught the words for “more” or “less” so we could make sure the pressure applied was comfortable. Even though the massage lasted just half an hour, the soothing feelings remained much longer.
Temples, too

Longshan is a beautiful, but very busy, temple.
Still feeling a bit euphoric, we left downtown and headed to Longshan Temple. Built in 1738, it was a place of worship and a gathering spot for Chinese settlers. Visiting on a Saturday, we found the temple extremely crowded and the scent of incense almost overwhelming. But it was interesting to see many people praying to various gods about almost anything that might be going on in their lives, from the mundane to big picture issues like jobs and marriage.
Worshipers light incense to offer
the gods when making supplications.
At one point hundreds of temple-goers, led by a monk and nun started singing and chanting from song books. It was a strange sight for us as Americans who are used to solemn church services because they were attempting to be religious and find inner peace while hundreds of others walked around paying no attention to the worship program. However, since it’s a public temple, people (locals and visitors) were there for different reasons, and no one was turned away.

An uneasy coalition
While in Taipei, we also visited the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, a memorial to the man who unified China in 1928. After a civil war between communist Mao Te Sung and capitalist Chiang Kai-shek, Taiwan was defeated in 1948 and became People’s Republic of China.

Singing is a form of worship for many Taiwanese Buddhists,
especially the older generations.
Today Republic of China is the country’s official name rather than the more popular and locally preferred Taiwan. Tensions run high regarding the status of Taiwan because it’s considered a rogue entity by mainland China.

Visitors looking for an upscale and modern shopping experience can find that at Taipei 101, the tallest building in Taiwan. So named because 10 + 1 means “better than perfect,” the building is designed to look like bamboo, with outcroppings every eight stories (8 is a lucky number in Asia). When built in 2015 the architecture was innovative and the building boasted the world’s fastest elevator.
Young people flock to modern shopping venues.
Taiwan is an interesting combination of traditional culture and contemporary life. Ancient temples and foot massages are still important even as the country adopts more Westernized standards and struggles with its global identity.



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