Thursday, March 24, 2005

It's starting to look like home here in Taiwan

Hi gang,
I've been here in Taiwan for four days, and I've managed to get my apartment looking like someone lives here, although I'm still without any living room furniture and a lot of other furniture that will make life easier (but I did score a 29" flat screen TV for $285). I took some progress photos and posted them at if you want to take a look.

There's a lot to get used to here, as some things are very different than in the US. For instance, the garbage truck comes every evening, playing a song like the ice cream truck, and when you hear it, you're supposed to run out and give them your trash. Sadly, I haven't yet figured out where they're stopping at what time! So, things are sorta piling up ;) I also have the boxes from all the stuff that was delivered today, since if I need to return anything, I have to have a box. Anyone need a refrigerator carton?

I have a little tank of gas on my balcony, which heats my water. I just open the valve (only when I'm home, I close it when I leave), and there's a very small hot water heater on the wall. That only turns on when the tap is opened for hot water, and the heater turns on and within about 30 seconds, I have hot water. I was a bit skeptical whether I would have hot water throughout my shower, but I did. I guess it just heats it so fast that it never runs out. I think this is a much better way than the US does it! The gas is also for cooking, but since I have no pots and pans yet, I haven't cooked.

The weather is still pretty cold, and no one here has heat in their apartments. Mine isn't too bad, just chilly, but OK when I put on warm clothes. My friend loaned me a couple blankets that have kept me toasty at night. Within the next week it should be getting warmer, and I'll probably be wishing for this colder weather. At least up here where I am, close to the ocean, I get a nice breeze and it's not as hot as Taipei city itself. I got myself a great floor fan, and I'm hoping that will be enough in the summer, that I won't have to get a window air conditioner.

Another thing for me to get used to is no clothes dryers. Can't find 'em. Here everyone washes their clothes and hangs them outside on their balconies to dry. This means I'll have to actually iron my clothes now, yuck. Oh well, I bought an iron, but still need an ironing board. So, they won't dry their clothes here, but they have electric appliances for drying their dishes. Go figure. I'd rather dry the dishes with a towel and not have to iron!

I've met some of my new neighbors, and they are very friendly. One woman was so nice, she gave me a book she had just purchased. It's in Chinese, but I'll be able to read it soon, I hope. It has some lovely illustrations. The people at the shops have been very patient with me as I've shopped, although there have been a few problems, like neither of my credit cards working at the one store where I was making major purchases. And both credit card companies swear they didn't deny any charges, so I have no idea what happened. Keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn't happen again!

Got to visit the Costco here, and it's almost identical to the US, same stuff. This was cool, because I know I can go there for things I may not be able to find other places, just in case I simply have to have something from the US. Today was the first day I had a soda since I left the US, and it wasn't even a US brand. It was a Taiwan sarsparilla called Hey Song, pretty tasty stuff.

Tomorrow I'm going to try to find my way to the school to make sure I know what I'm doing on Monday when classes start. I'll probably get lost! At least I can find my way to and from the MRT station to my apartment. It's a pretty twisty_turny way to walk, and I had to look at the written directions the first few times. Now I just do it without thinking. It's easier to get to by car, but afoot takes some effort.

Well, that's all. Most of you are just waking up, or maybe on your way to work. I'm thinking about bed, even though it's only 9:25 here. I keep getting up early because I don't want to spoil myself. However, it sounds as if the people upstairs are remodeling their apartment, so I'm not sure I'll be able to get to sleep just yet. Might just read for a bit.

Take care, everyone! I'll let you know when I have more pix of the place.

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