Kismet in Taipei

Memories from Taipei

I met her in the bathroom of the Grand Hyatt Taipei in Taiwan. I was washing my hands, moving quickly, to get to my 9:00am meeting point by the fountain in the hotel lobby. As I reached for the towel, I noticed her, I was intrigued.

think it was the broad brimmed camouflage hat that she was wearing that first caught my attention...then the two bushy ponytails with flecks of grey, that filled her petite neckline... from there it was the little silver retro granny glasses perched on her nose, the 60's style bright floral shirt, the multiple fanny packs around her waist, the straight legged well worn blue jeans and practical walking shoes. I guessed around 60ish in age..and thought  "Woodstock meets Taipei". She glanced my way, smiled warmly and said "Are you Jeanne?"  I can tell you, I was not expecting that.

On that note, I replied "Jennifer?" I can only assume she assessed me as studiously as I assessed her. I quickly glanced at my reflection in the bathroom mirror.. a lime green and aqua paisley caftan top, white linen pants and my black ecco walking shoes because comfort takes precedence when on tour and an over the shoulder bag stuffed with my camera and travel necessities. We were on the same and function..our own style. was fate...Jennifer was the tour guide I was meant to meet at the fountain in the hotel lobby.  I had a feeling from that moment on that this was going to be a fascinating and memorable two days in Taipei.

We left the ladies room and hopped into a black Mercedes waiting for us outside the entrance to the hotel. I was loving everything about Jennifer at this point.  She quickly filled the space with stories of her life, of Taipei and the history of Taiwan. An art teacher by profession, she also works independently as a private tour guide. In between all of that, she teaches Chinese flower painting to French expats.

The stories weaved their way in and out of each other as we motored along, I listened while taking in the sights out the window until she mentioned the "sparkle" that someone felt for her. Love? She had my full attention. Gossip about love in Taipei..who wouldn't tune in for that?

Jennifer is a friendly, engaging and thoughtful woman and it seems that she has had the attention of a few admirers over the years. She was not shy about telling me so. I am still not certain how this topic came up, it may have been over art supplies that I wanted to find. She mentioned an admirer once felt a certain "sparkle" for her but unfortunately she did not feel the same "sparkle" for him. I loved that she referred to attraction as "sparkle".

And this is how it went with Jennifer, she was a tour guide like no other, always a surprise here and there. She was her own quirky way. The plan was for us to have a half day together before collecting Mr. H who would join us for the afternoon and the following day. As we drove along, I smiled as I wondered how Mr. H would react to the "sparkle" story and the many more stories to come.

Jennifer asked about me, what I enjoyed doing with my time and what I would like to take away from my visit to Taipei. I mentioned that I was interested in pottery, art, tea and the history of Taiwan, in that order.  I knew very little, I wanted to hear it all and I was interested in a first hand perspective rather than from the "tour book".

When she asked if I would be interested in seeing her little art studio in her home, where she teaches her students, it took me less than three seconds to reply. This trip just kept getting better and better.

We arrived at the New Taipei City Yingge Ceramics Museum and then onto a ceramics factory tour where I had a wonderful choice of beautiful porcelain. I had wanted to find a style of teapot that I had spotted in Hong Kong and regretted not buying. I found what I was looking for and now regret not buying more.

Learning about ceramics at the New Taipei CityYingge Ceramics Museum
Ceramics factory tour in Taipei

With the morning portion of our tour concluded, we met Mr. H and drove to the old market area on DiHua Street in the Datong District of Taipei. We were eager to check out the tea selection and were not disappointed. We stocked up on lavender, roses, jasmine, chamomile and chrysanthemum. I love steeping the flowers in hot water for is has a way of knocking my stress factor down about 4-5 notches. You breathe deep and sip lightly...heaven in a cup.

Out and about the old market section of Taipei

From DiHua Street we wandered over to Jennifer's home in the same section of the city. Down one lane and over to another, Taipei's history passed us by with each turn.

 A tree grows in the Datong District of Taipei.

Jennifer kindly let me take photos of her work and those of her students. They are beautiful Chinese watercolours of flowers. I admired her paint brush collection and asked about her technique. We both agreed that I needed to come back to Taipei to take lessons from her. She gave me one of her paint brushes as a memento, to bring back with me for a future painting class. Clever woman..she sold me on the spot with that offer.

Jennifer's paintings

We ended our tour on day one here. 
We waved goodbye to Jennifer, 
looking forward to the next day.
I will come back another time with day two.
I can tell you that Jennifer was not the only 
fascinating woman that we discovered,
there is one more. 

Jennifer hits the trail home.

I feel a tea break coming on with my 
one cup Taipei teapot.
In my mind,
the cutest little teapot 
this side of Southeast Asia.
This is the one I hope to buy more of..
it is so sweet!

My Taipei one cup teapot.

I leave you with a bouquet from Taipei
and warm wishes for a wonderful week! 

Jeanne xx

If  you have any questions about
my trip to Taipei, or anything else,
you can write to me at


  1. What a treat. The paintings are beautiful and the china exquisite. The very best of tour guides make for a tour that lives on way past the finishing time. Happy Easter to you and yours also. Jennifer

    1. Thank you Jenni...and you are right, I can count a few guides that have made a trip spectacular and equally, a few that have not. Sometimes it feels like a roll of the dice, in this case, I got lucky. ;)

  2. Happy Easter to you and yours
    Wonderful post and photos
    A special tea cup collection for those moments of breathing new joy is a must.
    Thank you Jeanne for the inspiration, and Jennifer

    1. Your welcome Maywyn…that little teapot has given a whole new meaning to the tea experience! ;)

  3. Fascinating story! Jennifer is amazing. It is kind of serendipity when we meet kindred spirits. Jennifer is amazing and so talented. I'm sure you had fun touring with her and exchanging stories. I would like to buy one of those ceramics. The paintings are beautiful too. I hope you will be able to attend her art class one day.

    1. Me too Pamela…I can't help but wonder about the next chapter of stories…;)

  4. What a great story!For some reason I think this took place awhile ago?Or is it a recent story?
    I was in TAIPEI the Spring of 1981……..we saw a show and some students went to see the GORGE??I cannot recall the name now!I had tea at THE GRAND HOTEL………… old building at the time that was beautiful.I think were only there for two days………as I was on a rather large boat traveling the world…….in three months!It was college afloat…….called SEMESTER AT SEA.Myself and both my SONS were lucky enough to have this experience.LIFE CHANGING really.But I want to hear more of your story not mine!!!!
    I mailed you a postcard over a month ago!Sounds like the mail is worse then ITALY!!!!!GOod GRIEF!
    I await yours………and you will hear my squeal of delight when I do receive it!
    Off to find the BUNNY!!!!!

    1. Your postcard is on it's way Elizabeth..with fingers crossed! We went along to The Grand Hotel..the history of Taipei is fascinating, especially the dignitaries who came along to visit..xx

  5. Jeanne, so nice to hear you enjoyed your trip to Taipei. Its more Chinese than China itself. Had also a lot of interesting experiences there. When I reAD the question "are you Jeanne?" I thought at first she is a clairvoyant because there are so many in Taipei and astonishing good.

    1. So interesting Rena that you said it is more Chinese than China itself, Jennifer said that too. A tour of the National Palace Museum and the lost treasures speaks to that as well. ;)

  6. What a sweet tour guide, and to visit her home and studio was one of those aaaaah moments I'm certain- they are what make travel experiences so special. Her peonies are so beautiful and, as you already have a brush, I'll be waiting to see your version Jeanne!

    Lovely story - thanks for sharing peeks at Taipei, I've yet to go there!!!!

    Hope your Easter has been special -
    Love, Mary

    P.S. Your postcard hasn't arrived to date - just didn't want you to think me rude as I've not thanked you!

    1. Mary…I imagine the postcard trail will take a while, it usually does. I hope it arrives! In regards, to my versoin of Jennifer's peonies..I can only hope they will look half as lovely. xx

  7. Dear Jeanne, your life is the stuff novels are made of. Hope your Easter was wonderful.

    1. Thank you Loree…i will put that in the crazy novel category..;) xx

  8. What a wonderful little teapot. I love the graphic of fish - reminds me of the ones in my pond (that I need to go feed right about now). But seriously, there is something soothing about the fish graphics ... i just like it. Sounds like you enjoyed your trip. Great!

    1. Thank you Webb…I deliberated on the fish, it is not something I would normally gravitate to but I also felt it was time for a change. The fact that they are a good omen for prosperity helped too. ;) xx

  9. What an adventure. She sounds and looks wonderful! Can't wait to hear about day 2. Your postcard arrived today. Thank you so much. You really are the most generous woman I know.

    1. So glad it arrived Carina..I love sending you postcards, we travel well together. I wonder where the next one will be from?? ;)

  10. I hope you've had an Easter full of love and hope!

  11. Leslie in Portland, OregonMonday, April 21, 2014

    Thank you for your vivid story of day one of your time in Taipei. I am looking forward to day two. I haven't been to Taipei since 1976, and I imagine that much has changed. How did you find Jennifer? She definitely is my kind of guide!

    1. Hi Leslie...We found Jennifer through word of mouth, as these sort of things so often happen. If you find youself travelling to Taipei, I would love to pass her details along.. xx


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