We’ve been staying at Mr. Lin’s guest house for the past two days – a guest house is a great idea, IMHO. It’s three floors, 2BR/3BA, has no kitchen but is across the lane from Mr. Lin’s own house. So it’s comfortably separate for guests to have quiet time in the evening, but close enough that they can break fast with their host each morning. Mr. Lin apparently likes to cook and prepares us a full breakfast: sausage, egg, toast, asparagus, milk, jam, and fruit. I’ve eaten much too much food here in Taiwan. The bananas are shorter than American bananas but are much more aromatic and flavorful. I’d trade one for a bunch any day.
Both Yulin’s parents are interred at the X Buddhist temple in Tainan. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tainan#Temples We visit the temple and pay respects to her parents in the morning. Melinda’s been to the temple before, four years ago when po po passed away. The temple is unlike the one in Yanshui; here, there’s a nunnery and people’s ashes interred. It’s more somber but still nearly as colorful. We don’t dally, as we have a full agenda (as always).
Yulin’s father is famous for having founded a school, Ying-Hai, in 1959, and this morning we visit that school http://www.yhsh.tn.edu.tw/. It’s us four and two more classmates of Yulin’s meeting the current principal and a few department heads. The school once enrolled 2400(?) students but today hosts about 1800. We walk the grounds – the school is big. Five floors in the main building, which is U-shaped, plus a few basement levels. There are a few separate buildings, too. One of the meeting rooms also shows the school’s history, including a bust of Yulin’s father, pictures of each principal, and many other photos from the history. Our entourage picks up the school photographer (historian?) along the way and he snaps many pictures of us looking through the photo history. We eat lunch with some faculty: metal trays and a single spoon, just like the students use, and eating the same food, too: rice, greens, two dumplings, and soup. As always we take many photos of the group + the background but then head off soon after. We drop in on another friend of Yulin’s, for just a few minutes, then return to Mr. Lin’s house to prepare for the banquet.
In both Shanghai and this evening Melinda gets her hair and face made up. There’s a salon around the corner from the guest house and she has a 4p appointment for her hair. We collect gifts for the evening, from those that we’d brought over from San Francisco, do hair and makeup (Yulin does the makeup but over at the salon – they seem pretty flexible with all our craziness), dress, and soon it’s 6:15 and time to head to the banquet.
Mr. Lin drives us to the nearby four-star hotel where the banquet will be. It’s across the street from where Melinda and I’d found the SIM card, amusingly. The banquet is seating only two tables (20 people) and we’ve already met most of them – classmates, the principal of the school, and a few teachers, past and present. It’s a full 10-12 courses and all good food. Taiwan has uniformly good food, it seems. We especially liked the fish and the mango orange pearl soup at the end. We change clothes part-way through (just a red jacket – no dragon outfit this trip), make a few toasts (Yulin translates mine but Melinda give hers in Mandarin), and accept a few gifts. I change out of my suit so someone (a friend of Yulin’s) can ferry it to Taipei where we will collect it next week. Back at the guest house Melinda, Yulin, and I sit in the living room and visit for a while. Yulin is relaxed – a rare state for her – in part because the receptions and social engagements are all now complete (she and Edwin fly back to NYC in the morning). Melinda and I head to our room around 12:30 and spend 30 minutes packing everything. We’re luggage-neutral for the trip but only because we’ve passed a few items on to someone whom we’ll meet in Taipei. But that’s fine – we fly out from there and we can check both bags for the return flight.