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.
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.
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.