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Incense burns in the Matsu temple in the central city of Lukang. Incense smoke has blackened the face of the temple’s statue to its namesake deity, Matsu, goddess of the sea.  
Credit: Pieter van Noordennen 
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Lanterns light the way for visitors to the Sanshan temple in Lukang during the Taiwan Lantern Festival. Some two million tourists, mostly Taiwanese and mainland Chinese, come to the festival each year.  
Credit: Pieter van Noordennen 
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The Syuenguang temple overlooks inland Taiwan’s Sun Moon Lake. The lake is the largest natural body of water in Taiwan’s interior, and visitors take boat tours to the many temples and shrines along the shore. The temple, in honor to the monk who was the subject of the Chinese classic Journey to the West, was rebuilt after an earthquake in 1989.  
Credit: Pieter van Noordennen 
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Patrons of the magnificent Wenwu temple above Sun Moon Lake buy these good-luck charms to appease Wenwu, the god of wealth, and hang them throughout the temple. A set of 365 steps, one for each day of the year, extend down to the lake, and visitors also hang the charms near the step of their birthday.  
Credit: Pieter van Noordennen 
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This koi pond sits in Tainan City, home to the most temples in Taiwan. This temple originated as a Dutch fort, Fort Proventia, which the Dutch built during their occupation in the mid-17th century.  
Credit: Pieter van Noordennen 
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Also located in Tainan City, the gardens of the Confucius temple offer a welcome respite from the bustling city outside the walls. A massive banyan tree on the grounds is surrounded by former classrooms of Confucian study.  
Credit: Pieter van Noordennen 
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Don’t be disappointed by the newness of the Fu Guang Shan Buddhist Memorial Center in southern Taiwan. A decidedly modern center for Buddhist study, it opened in December 2011 and features interactive exhibits, modern vegetarian restaurants, and, of course, a Starbucks. But a brief chat with one of the monastery’s friendly monks will set your karma right.  
Credit: Pieter van Noordennen 
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Thousands of Buddhists, devout or not, come to Fu Guang Shan on a daily basis. The eight pagoda towers lining the grounds represent the 8 Noble Truths, and the shiny new 308-foot-tall Buddha statue is the tallest sitting Buddha statue in the world.  
Credit: Pieter van Noordennen 
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Fu Guang Shan was built to house the Buddha’s Tooth relic, transported here from Tibet during the Cultural Revolution. The tooth was originally to be put in the golden orb seen here in front of the sitting Buddha, but was moved inside to the visitor’s center for better accessibility.  
Credit: Pieter van Noordennen 
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Of course, one could consider capitalism a religion here in Taiwan. Taipei 101, named for its 101 stories at a towering 1,667 feet, was the world’s tallest building when it was completed in 2004 (it now ranks third). Inside, travelers find a collection of space-age architecture holding high-class Western stores like Bulgari and Louis Vuitton.  
Credit: Pieter van Noordennen 
 
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