Konbanwa (good evening),
It’s a balmy evening and the local night bird trills patiently outside my window. The weather has been gorgeous – not ‘mushi-atsui’ (way hot and humid!) as in my first weeks here. It’s sunny and very warm by day, but mornings and evenings are luscious. The peacefulness of this quiet rural neighborhood is enlivened every night at 8:45 when the Huis Ten Bosch fireworks and laser extravaganza lights up the sky, its festivity reflected in the calm river water.
One of my favorite parts of the day is early morning, before work, when i get on my one-speed, company-issued bike and go exploring nearby: through rice fields – now being harvested – and bamboo forests; through small fishing villages, along seawall pathways, through dwarf citrus orchards, past traditional houses with curved blue-gray tiled roofs…it’s amazing how many different corners there are here to discover! There is a type of spider here, which I’ve seen on many a ramble, whose body is shaped like a Moroccan trading bead – long and cylindrical, in yellows, reds, and blacks – living art!
It’s a holiday weekend here, and Huis Ten Bosch is bustling with people today – festive and fun. There is a wine festival happening, so the Dutch ‘town’ feels very French, with people sampling from over 300 European wines, sitting under the trees with bread and cheese picnics.
I love feeling so safe here, as a solo woman traveller, foreigner, and worker. Being out alone by day or at night, in the cities nearby or on a dark village street – no problem. Everyone is sooooo polite and appreciative, even the very trendy punked-out-looking teen boys. There is no trace of graffiti, litter, vandals, or dog droppings anywhere I’ve been. Also, I’ve seen very few Westerners here.