On the Chinese lunar calendar, 2021 is the year of the ox. My little brother and I went to my mom's art studio. Everyone in the class dressed in red and tied two horn loops on their hair. Everyone looked cute. But my brother and I were not used to tying loops in our hair. We drew colorful oxen on large sheets of paper, used brushes to write New Year's couplets, and pasted cut-paper figures on the paper for good luck. Cheers to health, happiness, and prosperity for our families, teachers, and classmates in 2021! I hope that the pandemic will soon end and things can return to normal. Wishing you and your family a safe and wonderful new year!
At the end of the spring break, my mother took my little brother and me on a trip to Tainan. We left from Zanghua early in the morning and went first to the Old Don artist village, where we walked around. At noon, we visited the tile-paved salt fields in Jinzajiao. In the afternoon, we went to Sicao green tunnel in Taijian national park to ride a bamboo raft on the river. We waited in line for life jackets and straw hats for our safety and protection from the sun. Each of us sat on a small stool as we set out on the beautiful green waterway. We listened to the tour guide introduce the mangrove ecology. That was fascinating. The scenery before our eyes was incredible. No wonder people call the place "Taiwan's miniature Amazon River." It's a great place to visit.
The pandemic was getting worse in mid-May, and the government shut down all the schools on the island and started online education. The school closures and distance learning continued through the summer vacation. My little brother and I stayed home for two whole months except when we returned briefly in staggered visits to pick up textbooks and materials in July. During the summer, my mother and I both took an online class on the Medicine Buddha Sutra and recited a mantra at least once a day to pray for world peace and recovery. My brother and I each drew a picture of the Medicine Buddha in my mom's studio when class was over there and collected 60,000 Taiwan dollars to donate to Nepal's Sramanera School, which is home to lots of boys my age. We hope to spread our love and kindness to the world.
School finally opened, and we went on a railroad adventure. We went in four-person teams and called ourselves "adventurers." And each team had a leader to serve as a guardian angel. For the first stage, we took a train to Jafen Station. But we learned that the first-stage destination had changed. So we failed that stage because of insufficient information. The second stage was to go to Longjin Station, draw a picture of the tile on the ground, and then go to Longmu Well to answer questions, and we made it. The third stage was to go to DaJia Station, and we completed all the tasks in Jenlan Temple. The last stage was to go to Zonan Station, but we had no time to finish the game. During the trip, I learned how to figure out the train schedules and purchase tickets apart from school activities. It was a great experience.
On a weekend, mom took me and my little brother to a pick-your-own plums place on a mountain. I learned that we don't pick the plums with our hands but use long bamboo rods to hit the trees instead. We spread a large net on the ground and took turns hitting the tree branches to knock down the green plums. We then collected the plums in buckets and pickled them. After washing the plums, we used knives to slightly cut the outside skin of the plums to let them absorb sugar and salt to swell. The whole process had me drooling just by thinking about it. I cannot wait to eat them. We had a fun and relaxing weekend. I want to come here again with mom next year in plum season.