There we are. After nine months of travelling, I finally wait for my last connecting flight for Geneva at Istanbul Airport.
I see all these people around me sleeping on benches, waiting for their connecting flights. This is beautiful. The poor and the rich connect. In front of the most luxurious shops, people wearing suits sleep on the ground. Money does not seem to make the ground softer though.
I am happy and peaceful. Today – or was it yesterday? – I spent my last day wandering in Taiwan. Nothing special to do, I already ticked all the must visit places on my to-do list. That’s the moment when you start considering these interesting places that you decided to sacrifice from your original plan. The moment when you decide to spend your last afternoon in a teahouse recommended in your travel book. The moment when you happen to meet some of the most interesting people because they sit next to you: an elegant woman with fine manners producing high quality tea, a graphic designer who studied in Tokyo, a young graduate in textile industry, and a Korean journalist willing to explore the tea universe.
We chat. They invite me to visit remarkable tea ceramics shops in Taipei’s old streets. They offer me gifts to bring home, snacks for the flight and bring me to the airport shuttle bus station by taxi.
Everything is natural. This is Taiwan. This is Taiwanese friendliness and hospitality expressed at their best. In which other country in the world do locals express so much kindness to foreigners?
And it is not an isolated case. Every Taiwanese person I met was exceptionally open-minded, careful, welcoming and generous. I’ve stayed at people’s homes. Been invited for lunches, dinners and breakfasts. Driven by car all around Taipei just to show me the most amazing sights and vegetarian restaurants. They organized mountain hikes for me. They booked tables in the finest cafés. Introduced me to their families. Regularly, they would write to ask news from my trip and offer me again to answer any question I would have. Always friendly. Always generous.
Never have I been welcomed so well in a country. Thank you so much.