Temple Procession - No Shame!

My time in Taiwan is complete, if you'd pull me out tomorrow I'd be happy...ok, I'm not REALLY ready to go home for the summer yet, but yesterday was something I've been looking forward to since I got here! I have a confession to make...I was creeping yesterday...hardcore...and I have no shame in what I've done!

This is what I began following

Ok I'll back up a bit, but please be prepared to be blown away! Yesterday, Sunday here, was a beautiful day and I chose to go check out the harbor in Hsinchu only about 15 minutes drive from my house, as I had yet to visit the area and wanted to see what all it held (side tangent, it was beautiful and I can' t wait to go back, rent bikes, and drive up and down the coast!) I left the harbor heading for church and planned to grab a quick dinner and then head across the street for mass at 6. I wasn't too far from church though when a man appeared in the middle of the road signaling to traffic to stop. I pulled off to the side of the road and tried to look ahead through traffic to see what was the hold up. To be honest I heard the drums and trumpets before I saw them and decided to shut off my scooter and sit and watch them pass by. Just a few feet before the procession should have passed me they turned right down a narrow road obstructing any view I once had.

I sat for a second and then thought...what the heck! I hopped off my scooter and began to follow the processional  {I mean I've got to figure out what's going on right?!!?} I walk with them a couple minutes down the road before they come to a standstill. There's a group of middle aged men all standing around (by this point they had put the god they were carrying down) chewing beetle nuts {think a grosser form of chewing tobacco} and drinking beer and were all quite intreagued by the lone foreign girl and were instant I have a drink with them...no thanks buddies!

We walked a bit further, with the guys picking up and carrying the bouncing god statue every time they moved, until I realized I was a decent ways away from my scooter...so I did what any good curious person would do; I walked back to my scooter and then drove it back to the processional parking only when the traffic got too bad to drive any further and then continued walking with them. I moved and parked my bike a good 3 or 4 times amounting to a solid hour of following these people and almost 3/4 of a mile covered by their processional.

[starting top left: 1. 10-12 foot god costumes 2. local men eager for a picture 3. a young boy dressed as a god 4. part of the area of the procession {look in the back, it keeps going!} 5. elderly woman & god 6.  firecrackers lining the road 7. myself and a large god 8. trumpets used during ritual dance 8. the "bouncing" gods]

Now on to the REALLY interesting stuff though! Guys, after an hour I still have no idea what I was seeing but I couldn't stop watching! There were so many local gods there. Some were on small bouncing platforms being carried by groups of 10-12 men, others were men dressed and painted to resemble warrior looking gods, and still others yet wearing costumes of 10-12 foot tall over sized gods. The entire time I walked there was a string of connecting firecrackers lining both sides of the street that they would lite with little to no warning, colored smoke being shot into the air, and 4-wheelers pulling drums and their drummers providing music for the whole ceremony.

[LOVE how these 3 pictures turned out! 1. god costumes waiting to be worn, the scenery was gorgeous!, and the sunset behind a dancing god]

Meanwhile, the "gods" were suiting up for the next leg of their procession while club music was ringing out from the group of drunk men behind me still carrying their bouncing god statues. I continued following them hoping to figure out where they were going {this puzzle was missing too many pieces lol} and saw they were heading to a small temple. Bingo! that had to be the end...or not! Each portion of the processional stopped in front of the temple, did a short dance or bowed, and then continued on down the road. I followed them for a while down a winding road taking pictures, having my picture taken, and responding to everyone hellos and where are you from's {of course all in Chinese lol} but still never found the end.

Next thing I knew it was 5:40 and my phone/gps was quickly dying. I said my goodbyes to my new found "friends" and headed on my way to church; laughing the whole way thinking off all the situations I find myself in. Until next time bouncy gods...keep on bouncing!