Propelled by the changing gusts of wind moving the iron leaf in the middle, thus setting the round iron plate in motion which reverberated the bells, the graceful tones created a neverending automatic composition (without any effort on the part of man despite the initial task of their actual creation) whether anyone listened to it or not. It was precisely this lack of human agency that attracted John Cage to zenbuddhism in the first place. I sat down on the second floor of the tower, closed my eyes and immersed myself in the cosmic composition flowing in sudden crescendos and decrescendos with the changing intensity of the wind. My composure was interrupted only by the high-pitched voices of children and by the creaking sounds of their footsteps as they ascended above on the steep wooden stairs above, but I did not mind them at first as they added a bit of realism to the temple soundscape. But my patience was not infinite.
As seen on the picture above, each of the bell towers had a large suspended bell or a drum in the ground floor bearing the sign asking the visitors to abstain from hitting these objects. However, the desire of some of the visitors (mainly children) to do so turned out to be stronger than their self-restraint and once one person started, others soon followed up and what was originally a serene and meditative sound environment turned into a clamouring contest of “Who can hit the drum louder?” Compared to the shrieking voices and the growing commotion, the construction works carried out on the foundations of the Buddha statue overlooking the temple and the sea were a pleasant experience for the ears.
To distance myself for a while from the crowds and quench my thirst for sounds of nature, I decided to venture to the central part of the island below the national park to take the hike to the Da Ban stream. Right after I arrived to the visitors' centre, which was rather a small restaurant with several hammocks for the employees to chill on, I paid a small fee and then crossed a magnificently creaking footbridge to the other side where the hike started.
Since I always enjoy getting off the beaten path, I soon got off the main trail and soon found myself surrounded by trunks of trees which were all wrapped up in plastic! The spectacle almost reminded me of some provocative art installation, but unfortunately, this was a real plastic rainforest! As I waded through the dense growth encumbered by plastic bags filled with water which resembled parasites sucking the trees' life power, I wondered where all this plastic came from. I was soon to find out.