Taiwan, Day 1: Yangmingshan, Bamboo Lake, Datun Nature Park, Xiaoyoukeng volcano, & the Taiwanese night Market.

Yesterday was my first day in Taiwan. It was incredible. I had forgotten how much I love seeing beauty in the ordinary. I started my morning off by getting a cab to the nearby market with my mom. As we were out and were able to walk back to the hotel, I watched the streets of people doing what people do. Washing fruit, working in their stalls of food and produce and selling different items of commodity. Hundreds of scooter bikes surrounded us and zipped around with no caution for pedestrians. It was wonderful. I took a longer walk to see some more of the city after my mom went back to the hotel.

Soon after, my sister, mom, brother in law and I went to my 98 year old grandmother's house. It was the first time I have seen any grandparent of mine since age 2. Once we arrived to her house, she motioned for me to take my shoes off in her doorway and put on one of the many pairs of slipper sandals there were. We all had these slide on sandals on our feet. It's no wonder my mom has an ottoman with several pairs available once you walk into her door. Slippers are a funny thing to me. It's just not as culturally prevalent to So Cal as it is in other parts of the world, like here in Taiwan. 

My grandmother is strong willed, smart, and capable. She's lived such a wonderful, legendary life. She's raised many kids and has worked hard. I can see where my mom and I get our will from. 

After that, my cousin Michael and his wife Jo came to get us at the hotel. I liked them instantly. Jo is kind, smart, and sweet. Michael is funny and quick and in some ways, reminds me of myself. He also cares to take a good photo and will even kneel down just to set it up right. It was no wonder we are related. He is also an abrupt driver and at any time, will stop in the middle or side of the rode. It's great. I could not get over how Michael is my first cousin I have ever met in real life!! He was a little blown away by that too because there is such a large Chinese family here. But we are in the US, so we don't have that same access to them. Michael had us stop for some green tea and vanilla ice cream and then we headed up to Yangmingshan mountain. It was a glorious day. We stopped at different part of the area. We saw the Bamboo Lake, Datun Nature Park, Xiaoyoukeng volcano, and more. 

After dinner, we went to the Taiwanese Night Market, which I also loved (of course. I love markets and nature. What a day!). I loved everything and couldn't stop jumping around and gushing. My family laughed at me several times because they said I was just like my child. 

I relished each part of this day.

This morning (day 2) my mom got me and we went down for breakfast. Here at the hotel, they have many traditional Chinese dishes for breakfast. I was glad to have my yogurt that I got from the market with delicious Chinese black tea and some other stuff.

My mom talks to every one. No matter who they are, she learns about their lives and relates well to them. I am beginning to realize more why it is that people can love my mom as they do. It's different when a person is your parent. You have entirely different experiences with them that belong to no one else. They may not understand you. They have different perspectives as to what is right. But parents are a formidable influence in our lives no matter what, be it positive or negative. I also do this with people. I often talk to them to find out about their lives and get a glimpse as to what might make them who they are. I do this because I am interested in people. I love the diversity of humanity and the many qualities that brings out. We may have different reasons for doing these things, but it is within my mom's natural way of being to be this way. I see that.

Yesterday when we were walking in Taipei, I smiled and greeted a woman who was badly burned and disfigured on the street side trying to sell some goods to support herself. I walked on, but my mother stopped and spoke with her animatedly. She smiled and laughed and bought two little bears from her. She wanted to help her. This is the sort of behavior my friends and I are used to within our own circle. But just in a daily, normal interaction, I saw my mom do the same. And it was so very good. 

It is amazing to continually see the different ways our capacity to love as flawed inflicted humans manifests. I see it in me. I see it in my mom I see it in my child. And I see it in this extended family whom I have not had the honor and pleasure of spending time with until now. They have made plans and set aside time to see us. We have such pretty full schedule because of this. I will never cease to be struck by the ways in which people distribute kindness and love. And in this case, my own family whom I have not seen. It's strikingly beautiful. 

So to my Chinese family-thank you now and in advance for your time and your generous kindness. We may have language barriers here, but I appreciate each of you so very much. 

Some photos from yesterday-totally out of order. Click on a photo to enlarge it.