Tag Archives: apartment

Best Day in Taipei Part II

10 Nov

After exiting Jungle Hill (see Part I for those photos), I continued on to eat at Good Morning restaurant. Because of my picture snapping mood, I’m now able to show you around our neighborhood in Da’an District, Taipei as I go to the restaurant, a store, and then my apartment.

Let's start off with one of the first people I pass on the street after I exit Jungle Hill. Wow.

This is very typical looking. Just wanted to share.

Wolong Street (our street) is windy because the east side of it follows Jungle Hill (s).

This is actually the first time I've seen a truck of chickens or any live animal other than people transporting pets on their scooters... like a dog between their legs on the "floorboard", a space that basically only accomodates the dogs bum. I'll be sure to do a post all about scooters and their drivers once I have collected a good amount of photos so you don't have to just take my word for it.

Walkin down Wolong. As I've said, this is on the edge of Taipei, so not crowded.

Still Walking

Can you see the lady wearing pink in between the two vehicles. She is getting off the back of a scooter that I watched her get on approximately five minutes earlier. She is old, and someone was helping her put her helmet on. Then that person transported her about four blocks down the street. I remember having the oddest feeling seeing those people again because I guess I kept comparing their version of those same five minutes and same route to my version. I have a picture of when they were helping her put the helmet on, but that one is just as boring looking as this one, so I won't subject you to it as well.

Now, as Wolong Street comes to an end, I find myself at the brown line of the MRT. This is Linguang Station, a few minutes walk from our apartment. But instead of turning right here towards home, I am going to turn left and be at Good Morning cafe in one minute. If I passed up Good Morning cafe and kept walking, I'd be in busier territory very quickly.

These are the very nice ladies who are here every time I come in. The menu you can see is all in Chinese. Luckily they have a little booklet that has both English and Chinese, so I grab that (it has a picture of a cat on the front). Once I decide what I want to eat, I go back and forth from the cat booklet to the paper menu looking for the Chinese characters of the items I've chosen, so I can mark down what I want to eat. Even when you're just trying to match the characters, it can be difficult especially because in this case, the fuzzy print quality of the cat book menu makes all the characters look even more muddled than they already appear to my brain.

I have to be very sneaky when I invade people's privacy all in the name of... well, nothing very important. I mean, she's just a regular girl right, but that's the point.

On my way home from eating. I walked through the MRT breezeway to show you where you can buy your MRT token for 70 cents up to 1.30 USD depending on if you're going a couple stops away or across the entire city. Carrie and I have the prepaid card, so we don't need to buy a token anymore. Oh, and If you care, we live about four stops down from where the brown line meets the blue.

People waiting for the walk signal

Instead of going straight home, I went about 30 seconds out of the way to go to the Something Store Near Our House (This is what we call it to differentiate it from the Something Store and the Everything Store). First here's a photo from street level.

As soon as you walk down those stairs in the previous photo and walk through a set of automatic glass doors, you see this. It gives you an idea of how tightly packed stores are here, and of how little importance they put on the aesthetics of entry ways, unless you consider orderliness beauty, but some shops don't even have that really.

This is how you get downstairs and also where I buy my water. We finally figured out why we should filter our water - heavy metals. You can see the metal build up when you remove the screen on the tap. We still don't really get why people boil the water though since that doesn't get rid of metals, only bacteria, which we don't seem to have a problem with... yet.

There is a packed downstairs floor that has household stuff. I often need to buy things on this wall you see along the stairs. It's very common for multilevel stores to put the merchandise along the stairs.

Just in case you want to know what it's like to try to buy a drink here. I've had that Asparagus drink; it's... interesting.

Girl waiting for bus. This is the bus stop where I wait on rainy mornings for bus 292, which has happened very day this week. It's pouring as I write this actually.

Garden area next to our apartment building.

Our apartment building on the right.

Oh, there goes a man pushing boxes. If it's boxes, it's sometimes a man, but if it's trash, it's almost always a lady. The ladies are usually pushing more trash than this, and sometimes they are on a bike, pedaling huge amounts. I already have many photos of these trash ladies, so you have a trash post to look forward to reading.

Our security guard. The fact that we have security, an elevator, and trash service (as opposed to having to take it in special bags to the truck that stops in the middle of the road at 7pm) means we have a fancy place (AKA over-priced).

The breezeway between the two sides of our apartment complex. We live to the left.

Wow, here comes Carrie

Getting closer

and closer

and closer


My Other Roommate

11 Aug

I haven’t wanted to face this, the noises from above, but tonight I feel ready to talk about it.

The ceiling of my room is very low as you might know if you saw the photo exemplifying this architectural nuance. Well, about every other day there is a noise coming from above, and with it being so near my head, it is quite noticeable. The first time it happened Carrie was in here with me, and we both cocked our heads and stared at each other, both of us not able to make a guess as to what could make such an odd noise. Imagine a shuffling mixed with scurrying mixed with tinkering. Since then I have heard it many times. I decided that the people above us have a dog. A small, cute, fluffy dog that enjoys playing with its green ball. In my mind there was no other option as it was definitely alive, definitely small, and definitely in the apartment above me.

Then David was over one time when the dog was feeling frisky. And, he immediately placed the sound as rat(s). “WHAT?! Noooo … really? But it sounds like a small dog, doesn’t it?”

“Well, there is no way that that your ceiling is also the floor of the people above you; it’s not thick enough. There is a space in between otherwise you would hear them walking and…”

“Okay, okay, stop talking! I felt much better thinking it was a dog. Please pretend it’s a dog with me.”

“Okay, yeah, it’s a dog.”

So, now, when I hear the dog/rat, I no longer know what to think, nor do I even want to acknowledge that it’s happening. It’s fairly loud. I wish you could hear it. It’s like the thing lives with me. We are only 1  foot to 4.5 feet apart at all times. I hope the ceiling never breaks like at the school (not the one I’m at right now, but a different one). A partially alive rat fell out of the ceiling, a student picked it up and attempted to hand it to a teacher, another student slapped the first student’s hand, sending the rat flying, the teacher screamed for help from another teacher, the second teacher put a trashcan over the rat and brought it to a Taiwanese guy next door. This is a guy who is completely unassociated with the school other than the fact that his security guard job includes watching the little kiddos next door walk to and from the park singing “The Ants Go Marching” every Tuesday and Thursday. Well, now it means he occasionally disposes of rats. Here there are no backyards or big trashcans that sit in the garage or out in the street, so “dispose” entails…hmmm, nevermind.

Our Wolong Street Apartment!

18 Jul

My room

View from my room window

Downward view from my room window

My closet has a window too! and Japanese style sliding doors

Built-in drawers and cabinets for storage are not the norm here. I didn't exactly want the TV, but there it was

My vanity area, Dave, and White Chair

My ceiling is VERY low. My elbow is even bent.

Our living room. Behind the infamous couch you can see some rain inspired artwork Carrie made and her new bike.

Our dining room. Carrie artwork on the window sill

Our kitchen. No, it is not bigger than it looks. Suits us just fine though. Thanks for finding us the fridge Momma Linda!

View#1 from our dining room window. That tall building is the 101. This an hour after a heavy rain subsided.

View #2 from our dining room window. Meet Jungle Hill... again

View #3 from our dining room window. Many people are surrounded by tall buildings like the one pictured in the left, but we are on the outskirts of the city and on the 6th floor

Our front door and bathroom

The stairs leading up to my room, and the stairs leading down to Carrie's

Carrie in the bathroom cleaning her backpack

Our shower... in case you weren't sure if... well, we do.

Carrie in the laundry room that is really just a drying room for her artwork and now her backpack

The laundry room's connected to the.... Carrie's room

The Carrie's room's connected to the... other part of Carrie's room

Notice these two new art pieces: to the left of the map are rain inspired umbrella people, and on the ground a flower collage

Carrie and half of her closets. I would post the other half, but it's the same.

View from Carrie's bedroom window. And there you have it folks, our apartment! In the next chapter, I'll show you the hallway, elevator, and trash bins




Apartment, Hostel, Food, Poison Ivy, and Boob Problems

18 Jun

For all who read my last post, I give you props. I didn’t realize that it had been reformatted when I copied and pasted it from Microsoft Word. It now has paragraphs and some of the info has been corrected. For example, we now realize that the rent for a two bedroom in Taipei is not going to be as cheap as we first thought. We were hearing we could get a place for 15,000 NTD, but it is actually going to be between 20,000 and 30,000 especially because we want to live near our job which is in the heart of the city. An apartment locator (here they are called brokers) took us to see one apartment today, in not exactly the right area, for 27,000. It was nicer than we need though: very nice tile, spacious living area, doorman, special trash service. The outside says “Hotel” which seems odd to me. Carrie kept trying to explain to the lady that we don’t need something this nice, but she made it seem like this is our only option other than looking closer to the heart of the city and pay 30,000 and up. We think she may just be used to dealing with foreigners and keeping options from them, hoping they just go ahead and lease a luxury apartment which secures her a higher broker fee (she gets half one month’s rent). Anyway, we’ve been looking into finding an apartment ourselves, a difficult task when most listings are not in English and we didn’t even know where to start. Craigslist Taiwan mostly has listings these brokers posted. We have found a great website though- once again from the girl who owns the hostel we first stayed at.

We go back to that hostel, Taipei Home Stay, tomorrow because they have beds open again. We are excited. Our current Taipei hostel is very drab. We were excited at first because it is closer to the city center and less expensive, but the lady at the desk is not willing to help with anything extra, we have to pay extra just to get air conditioning from 10pm – 10am, and there is no WiFi in the room, only in this lobby area on the 6th floor where I am currently sitting. The drab quality, though, comes mostly from the fact that there are no windows in our room, yet there are all these awkward pieces of furniture thrown into the room: at least 5 closet/shelf areas, a fridge that doesn’t work, a microwave, a stove that has a towel over it, a shower that is above the sink and sprays onto the toilet, and a mattress that squeaks because of the waterproof cover. By water I mean urine.

Here is a brief list of the exciting things about our last few days:

The beach in Kaohsiung, though not a paradise by any means, was very relaxing. I ran barefoot for a mile or so, Carrie swam around with her goggles on, and I played in the dark brown sand. There are nicer beaches farther away, but we didn’t bother trying to find those.

That night, a guy we meet on the couchsurfing website picked us up at our hostel (a VERY nice place with a very nice lady who was our pseudo mommy after our longest day ever because of those two interviews and traveling). He and his brother are both in the Taiwan military and spoke English pretty well, but had trouble with pronunciation and were a bit unsure about speaking it. The brother went home almost right away because of being called to duty I believe. The three of us explored the food at a night market. We tried stinky tofu (Carrie is determined to grow to like it; I am uninspired by it), and I ate some very delicious dumplings. Then Allen took us to pick up his girlfriend Lu Lu (a very cute and amiable girl in a pink dress), and we all went to an American influenced bar. We both had a beer, and spoke with Allen and Lu Lu about various things. They were an awesome couple who I hope to hang out with in the future. They are moving to Australia in a week to live in the mountains and ski, though, so we’ll see.

Carrie and I had a day where we just traveled back to Taipei, and took a nap induced by the drabness of our new hostel and my having stayed up way too late the previous night writing my last blog entry.

Then, today we tried to get some apartment stuff accomplished.

Somewhere in there we showed up at a restaurant that looked closed, but the owner made us food. We don’t have enough Chinese to explain what kind of food, and this menu had no English on it, but Carrie had her “I’m vegetarian” card, so we waited patiently for chef’s choice. Out came a plate of fried rice for Carrie and a bowl of hot noodles with clams and shrimp soup for me. It was delicious! We are very thankful that all these Taiwanese ladies are so willing to take us under their wing in our times of need. Walking around a city when you are very hungry is not pleasant especially at 10pm in an area where all you see are computer stores (why the dentist and computer stores are open at 10pm is still somewhat of a mystery).

Another unfortunate even is that I have poison ivy. I think it is from a couple weeks ago when I walked through some weeds at a friend’s river property. When I will learn to stay out of the weeds, I don’t know. I was pretty worried it might turn into one of those cases where it can be found in multiple places on every limb and on my face, but so far it is staying contained. Sweating here is like breathing, so it would be difficult to keep the oils from spreading. I walked into what looked like a doctor’s office (it is a Chinese medicine shop), and pointed to a card I made that says: poison, plant, rash, skin (in Chinese) on it. The guy laughed because the Chinese characters were written poorly? Or they were wrong? Or he had no way to help my skin problem? I don’t know, but once again some nice Taiwanese ladies saved me. By the time I walked out, I had the name and address of a hospital (equivalent of the doctor here) and the name for “skin doctor” all written in Chinese. They also meticulously pointed out where the hospital is on my map. Instead of going to the hospital though, we went back to where our luggage is being kept at the first hostel we stayed at, and I found my steroid pills from the last time I had poison ivy.

The worst thing, by far, that has happened to me was in Kaohsiung. While walking down this ally way (I know what you’re thinking), this guy on a mo-ped drove by (this is not weird; they drive by every .5 seconds), but as he passed me by, he attempted to grab my chest. He missed his goal and just got my literal chest, but it was very alarming and disgusting feeling. It was late, and I was tired, so I almost couldn’t believe it happened. It took me a minute to verbalize it to Carrie; I had goosebumps. My initial reaction was to run after him and hit him, but he was long gone; he couldn’t even hear me due to the sound of his mo-ped. The reason we were even walking in that alley is because the lady who owns the hostel told us it was a shortcut, a way to avoid the busy, more dangerous (ha) road. She told us this during daylight hours before we went TO the beach, but on the way back, we just followed the same route. Anyway, it made us both realize that not ALL Taiwanese people are perfect. If drug trafficking is punishable by death here, so should boob grabbing be. Just an idea.