I think it was the last weekend in April I went back to the Hsinchu area to check out a fantastic job opportunity and reconnect with old friends. The job was in Zhongli and situated at the base of a small foothill with hiking trails. The kind owner of the school (20 + years established school) treated my friend and his wife, Z and my other friend to lunch at the Kung Sheng Ting Cafeteria (next to the 7th day adventist church.). It was an all you can eat buffet. I had several servings of these amazing mushroom dishes.
Lucky for us it was the time of year when the camellia flowers (茶花) were in bloom. They sell the oil here for cooking oil (C. oleifera), and I know Japanese women use camellia oil (C. japonica) in their beauty products. Of course the finest teas are from the C. sinensis. It was beautiful just to see patches of the forest alive with white petals and to walk on their fallen blossoms. It was slippery like melting, slushy snow, but smelled much better. I'm not sure which camellia was in bloom as there are hundreds, maybe the Camellia rusticana – Snow Camellia?
That night my friends took us out to eat at Chubby's an American style burger joint in Zhubei across from the High speed train station. I had an over sized, juicy burger with bacon, loads of red onions and blue cheese, it was great, I finished the whole thing. The night's adventure wasn't over yet. Now we were on a quest to find some fireflies, the chances of actually seeing any, getting less by the minute as it was raining and late. We found the lonely mountain road, unlit and dark and as we were descending back down, I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eyes, so we stopped the car and lo and behold there were fireflies beside the river. My friend Fabian caught one for Z and we had a nice time before going back.
Fabian and his wife Stacy (former co-workers) let us crash at their apartment at Erchong (between Zhubei and Zhudong). Z was playing vids w/Fabian, we were drinking wine, catching up, going to bed far too late.
The next morning our hosts took us to Beipu the Hakka village, where we walked around the old town, checking out the stalls. Z had a royal meltdown, I broke my camera, and we were tired. After a second wind we went to Emei reservoir, walked around, checked out the enormous golden fat Buddha on the grounds of the gates monastery and walked on a scary suspension bridge.
Deciding whether or not to take this job offer was a tough decision for me. I was seriously going back and forth every few days. The bonus and salary raises (several increments a year) is far better then where I'm at now. But life is more expensive in Hsinchu than Tainan, the weather is much better in Tainan too. I recently resigned my contract here with my school in Tainan -- again. The deciding reason for not taking the job in Jhudong was the one hour lunch break that teachers use to prep (my 2 hour lunch breaks here in Tainan are very sacred) and Z's elementary school in Anping is small and also very good. So it looks like I am in Tainan for now, which is a kind of relief.