Built in 1661 during the Tsing Dynasty, Kaun-du Temple was Taiwan’s oldest temple worshiping the Heavenly Saintly Mother. This explained why both in the Lingxiao Treasure and Taisui Halls, female monks stood before idols pounding drums and singing prayers to the sound of tinkering cymbals while incense smoked through the huge interiors.
Kaun-du Temple was a highly decorative complex both inside and out. When I wandered down a tunnel to the ancient Buddha pit, both sides were lined with gaudy statues. Most of the male gods held fierce expressions as if they weren’t pleased the temple was dedicated to a woman. At the end of the tunnel, devotees bowed before a golden Buddha.
I exited down the steps and out towards Tamsui River. I’d had my fill of statues, over the top decoration, singing that wasn’t soothing as it had been in South Korean temples and over-powering incense. I needed a breath of fresh air.