My neighbors in Taipei

When in Taipei, I usually take my bag and am on my way to Chinese class or the gym. However, this day I decided to take a stroll through my street and meet some people. Right next to my apartment there is a little park. It is fun to just go out and meet people and ask them if I may take a picture… oh yes, I do know the Chinese word for that now! When I walk out of the apartment complex, there are always at least two doormen. Very helpful, very friendly. All I have said so far is Ni hoa but that is gonna change soon. They were quite excited when I asked them (gestured…) if I may take their pictures. Handsome guys. They give me a homy feeling when I enter the building.

As in any country, the little ones are in for a picture (actually, it is the parents who are proud and give permission). Cute as always, they pose and look at me as if I were from a different planet. In a way, I am……Xie xie won’t do it, I’m afraid. Next to the park, I always pass a lottery store.. kinda. Still don’t know why they also sell oranges. Cannot ask yet, working on that. The lady owner is always on her phone. Then I pass a little temple. It just got restored.  Colorful masks welcome me. I cannot wait to be able to ask what they mean and what religion the temple represents.

On my way to the botanical garden, about a 20 minute walk away, I find the cutest little flower/ coffee shop and go in. I meet two lovely girls who do not speak English, but point upstairs. On the third floor I meet the owner, a friendly girl, who speaks perfect English. She is excited when she hears I am from Holland and shows me a few flower arrangement certificates on the wall that her mom and aunt got in Holland, and shows me what her customers can do with the flowers. It is amazingly busy for the tiny store and it is a real girls’ thing…: flowery braces, necklaces and hair wraps. Great idea for the Netherlands as well? A perfect idea for the US where birthday girls go out for special occasions!

I love the botanical gardens. People are so amazingly friendly! If there is something special to photograph, other photographers take me by the arm  to see rare birds or special corners. One couple even took me outside, they wanted to show me something special, I suspect a bird, but it was gone. Instead, A fine young man walked up to me, I think the young man was inhabitant of a special home for handicapped people across the street, and spoke in perfect English: “Miss, where are you from? You are a beautiful lady!” He asked me if I liked coffee (must have been all over my face) and he gave me a package of Nescafe. I was touched. Big time. What a gorgeous heart. I learn every day. Makes me feel humble to be welcomed by these people.

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