Now this is how you make an entrance. The Dragon Pagoda, along with the equally fierce Tiger Pagoda, guard the seven-story octagonal Spring and Autumn Pavilions at Lotus Pond (蓮池潭) in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. They were built in the 1950s—as if their kitschy take on hell and all of its attendant fire and brimstone didn’t already give that away. To visit, wend your way over the bridge with nine bends, passing above a watery carpet of blooming lotus flowers, before entering through the dragon’s mouth, ascending one pavilion and then the next, and finally exiting through the tiger’s maw. (To do it any other way would be inauspicious, say the natives.)
Perched elsewhere over the pond is the photogenic Pei Chi Pavilion, which honors the Daoist deity Xuan Wu. He brandishes a sword that stands 126 feet tall. Walk toward the office underneath the statue and you’ll see a machine with a chicken roosting above a nest of golden eggs. Drop 50 NTD ($1.60 USD) in the slot and the chicken will squawk and flap its wings to the beat of Taiwanese music, before laying a golden egg with a Buddhist amulet inside.
Admission to the Spring, Autumn, and Pei Chi Pavilions is by donation only; we offered 50 NTD per person and were handed free postcards by the security guard. The area is relatively quiet outside of locals playing card games and napping in the noonday sun, so come early and plan to stay awhile if you’re looking for a roll’s worth of unique photo ops.
Liantan Rd., Zuoyin District, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; no phone.