Matsu pilgrimage gets go-ahead
The largest religious procession in Taiwan, the Dajia Jenn Lann Matsu pilgrimage, will go ahead this year in spite of pandemic worries.
It will begin on April 9 and conclude on April 18.
The dates were set after Jenn Lann Temple Chair Yen Ching-piao (顏清標) performed a ritual to seek instructions from Matsu, the sea goddess.
Yen stated that Matsu will bless and protect the pilgrimage, and would not let the pandemic situation turn severe.
However, he then went on to say disease prevention measures similar to those introduced last year will be put in place again.
He also suggested worshipers should watch the livestream of the 340-kilometer journey from the Taichung Temple to Fengtien Temple in Chiayi and back, rather than taking part in person.
For those who do participate in the pilgrimage, food and snacks prepared along the way will be offered in boxes so that people do not have to gather around tables and violate social distancing.
Additionally people will be required to register their personal information when they enter temples to be visited by the Matsu palanquin along the way, in compliance with the government’s pandemic prevention rules.
The entire journey encompasses traverses Taichung City and Changhua, Yunlin and Chiayi counties.
Last year, with less in attendance due to the pandemic, the pilgrimage moved much faster than in past years, which they expect may be the case again this year.
Re-launch of MRT trials kicked down the road
After a six hour meeting and a review of 600 pages of documents, the Taichung City Government committee reviewing the safety of the MRT Green Line remained unsatisfied with the report by the two groups in charge of the project, Taipei Department of Rapid Transit Systems and Kawasaki.
They demanded supplemental information, and once that is received they will meet again.
This dashed hopes that a date would be set for the resumption of public trials that were halted in November last year due to coupling failures.
Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen reiterated her insistence that the trials will not resume until they are certain it will be safe to do so.
However, when asked by reporters when it will resume, she answered in English: “Coming Soon”.
While the city waits on the Green Line, the planned Blue and Orange Lines have continued to move forward.
The Blue Line, which is at a more advanced stage of planning, has been approved to be reviewed by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), including an environmental impact assessment.
The Orange Line, which is at a more preliminary stage, just finished a feasibility review which will also be submitted to the ministry for approval.
However, with the Green Line having been under construction for 13 years now, neither of the two new lines is likely to be completed until well into the 2030s.
Central Taiwan chosen to trial vehicle rental app
Taichung, and Miaoli, Changhua and Nantou counties have been selected to test a new app being developed by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.
Though currently in the bidding stage, once created the app will connect up vehicle rental companies, allowing booking a car–including one with a chauffeur if desired–to be done simply through the app.
The system is also planned to be foreigner friendly.
Lu Shiow-yen goes to bat for pineapple farmers
Following the announcement that China will halt imports of pineapple from Taiwan, governments, companies and private citizens have jumped into action–Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen among them.
The mayor announced she will be personally in touch with city and county heads on the issue to help them market in Taichung.
Initially the focus will be on regions to the south, where the harvest season is March and April.
She said that the original target of purchases in Taichung from Taitung County was 3000 kilos, but it has already passed the 50,000 kilo mark.
She has already started coordinating with Nantou County Commissioner Lin Ming-chen, which like Taichung has a harvest period of May through August, peaking in July to begin preparing now to support the market.
Two deaths of outdoors enthusiasts
Two tragedies this week remind us that the great outdoors remains dangerous.
In Nantou County’s Xinyi Township, a 34-year-old woman was found dead on Saturday by a search and rescue team after going missing Friday during a hike on Mt. Jyunda (郡大山).
Her five travelling companions were unharmed.
The woman had apparently slipped and fell down a 40-meter ravine, and her companions were unable to contact her by cell phone.
Her friends were surprised as she was an experienced hiker.
In the second case, on Monday a 64-year-old man fell into the Maoluo Creek in the Wuri District while fishing.
Another fisherman noticed the body floating in the water and hurriedly reported it to authorities.
A team of 30 was dispatched to find the body, which they did later that day–but the man had not survived.
His identity was determined by the license plate of his scooter parked at the site, which was registered to his wife.
Hordes eat noodles for earth god
In Nantou’s Zhongliao Township a locally famous Tudigong, or earth god, temple is popularly known as the ‘instant noodle earth god temple’.
At this site people eat instant noodles and pray for good fortune.
This turned out to be a popular choice over the 228 weekend, as nearly 100,000 people came and ate around 50,000 bowls of instant noodles.
No doubt that Tudigong felt very appreciated last weekend.
Image courtesy of Lu Shiow-yen’s FB page