Taipei--Four Taipei students, one seventh grader and three eighth graders, biked around the offshore Kinmen County in late July, visiting a series of statues called Wind Lion Gods, on an eight-day "grand tour" that was part of the teenagers' rite of passage.
The "grand tour" activity, organized by the Taipei Youth Development Office, took the four female students to Hupu Elementary School in Jinning Township on the northwestern tip of the island, where the "cutest Wind Lion God in Kinmen" stands. The students expressed interest in the craftsmanship and shape of the statue, which has short forelegs and is said to resemble a zombie.
In the northeastern part of the island is another of the statues, which the students said was the most impressive. It is hidden under a stone stairway near the rice fields in Qingyu, Jinsha Township. Two of the students, Lu Hsin-min (???) and Chen Yun-an (???), said they did not notice the statue until they almost stepped on it.
The Wind Lion Gods are typically stone carvings that are placed in front of a house or near an intersection to protect people from sandstorms and the northeast monsoon winds that blow over southern China, Taiwan, the Ryukyu Islands and Japan.
The four students from Taipei Xing Fu Junior High School flew to Kinmen on July 24, accompanied by scout master Hsu Min-shu (???), on their coming-of-age tour.
Huang Yung-lin (???), Tseng Jou-wan (???) and Lu said they wanted to visit Kinmen because one of their teachers, Chen Chih-fa (???), had told them stories about the Wind Lion Gods.
The three of them, along with Chen Yun-an, also sought information from acquaintances from Kinmen and searched on the Internet to find stories about 107 Wind Lion Gods in the island county.
The eight-day trip cost some NT$50,000 (US$1,652) for the four students, who formed one of the 30 teams selected for the Taipei Youth Development Office's program.
The office will refund NT$20,000 of the cost of the trip, which was one of the "grand tours" designed for 13-18 year olds in junior and senior high schools in Taipei. The four students from Taipei Xing Fu Junior High School who went to Kinmen said they planned to apply for another "grand tour" next year and would like to visit another of Taiwan's outlying islands.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel