On Sunday a few of my students got together in the mountains on the edge of Taibei City to celebrate two birthdays; one of the boys has his birthday today and one of the girls has her birthday this coming Friday. I was invited to share in the festivities and spend the day with those students of mine who were free to attend, along with various siblings and parents. I accepted. I was given a lift to the place by the birthday girl's family. I met them near the school, we all had breakfast together and then headed north. It seems the ordeal of waking up and consuming breakfast was a bit much for the children because my student and her elder brother promptly fell asleep in the car on the trip north.
We arrived in the mountain in good time as the rest of the group trickled in bit by bit. The place we went to is a kind of activity centre that hosts gathering for children. A staff member for the centre led us to a sitting area, where we would later have lunch, to explain the plan for the day. En route we encountered our first surprise.
In the sitting area the children rapidly returned to the natural state of children - clowning around, being silly and generally endeavouring to be amused.
After everyone had arrived we were rounded up and marched to a hill. Slipping beneath the trees we ascended a slipperly slope with rope railings for support. Once upon the hill the children were split into two groups - boys and girls - with various parents following each group. A number of activities were available for the children. Here are some highlights.
The swing rope was a favourite.
Boys waiting in line for a turn.
Even some parents took a turn.
There were a few rope bridges.
Many learnt that ropes can be tough on city hands.
After having fun on the hill the party wound its way back down to the sitting area. There was some lovely scenery and I stole away for a few shots.
I may be wrong, but I think this plant that's nonchalantly hanging out beside the path is traditionally illegal.
I don't know what this plant is (the one with the little write flowers) but I hope to track it down so I can add one to my little balcony garden.
The centre grows a lot of its own food. Our lunch came from these fields.
The birthday boy inspecting insects.
Flowers I remember from my catering days.
Once everyone was back and hands had been washed, the children were given cabbage. They had to shred it and then bring it to these taps to wash it, afterwards it was taken to a large, low, open stove and the children were given turns to stir the vegetables. It was an introduction lesson to cooking. It was easy to tell which students had experience cooking.
Sadly I don't have any pictures of them cooking. I only took a few (which didn't come out well) and gave up soon after as many of the parents were taking pictures.
After lunch, while some children began kicking a ball around, playing on the jungle gym or engaging in exploration, others were shown how to weave grass into grasshoppers. Mine were a failure, but some of the children got the knack for it and were soon churning out the little green jumpers.
After the singing of birthday songs and cake everyone departed. The same family gave me a lift home and I was barely home two minutes before heading out to join another family for supper - this time the family of the boy whose birthday it was. We went to a traditional Korean restaurant that is owned by his aunt and run by his uncle who is Korean. The food was great.