Welcome to Our Love Nest
JP and I have been in Taiwan less than twenty days and it feels like we have been back for months. In this time we have both started our lives here again. We arrived in Taiwan September 8 at 4:30 am where we were picked up at the airport by my agents after a 15 hour flight non stop from Canada. We were going to be staying (temporarily) in JP’s old apartment with his roommate Stu. I refereed to our living situation as Me, You and Stu. After we got to our apartment that morning we showered and got ready for the day. Yup, that’s right the day we arrived we were to get right into it. Bahh!! I was to begin work at 8:00am at my new school and JP had to register at university for his MBA courses. Jet lag was not an option for us and we had no time to adjust to the time change. That was maybe the longest day of my life. Since then it feels like we have not stopped. Together on top of work and school JP has had multiple health checks, we have organized VISA changes, police checks, ARCs, bought a new scooter and searched for apartments. Of course, we have also found time to reunite with friends, go for dinner and have a few drinks.
This weekend we decided to move. We wanted a place for just us two. Now the process of finding a new apartment might seem easy but when you do not speak or read Chinese it can be difficult. Together we tried to tap into what resources we do have, friends and co-workers. We asked others how they got places or if they knew of any good apartments. One of my Chinese co-workers Amy (who is the sweetest thing!) told me about a website that shows available apartments and that there was a good selection. I fire it up to discover it is completely in Chinese. Price and pictures were my only reference. She showed me the Chinese characters I would need to know to search for apartments and the city I wanted. Other then that I had to copy and paste information into google translate to learn where in Hsinchu they were or if they were furnished etc. I found a few cute places with a range of prices. JP and I picked a super cute place that was fully furnished and really nicely decorated. Both of our co-workers agreed that this place was a good choice. JP asked our friend Hannah to help us look at the apartment. We needed her to translate for us because the agents did not speak English. She called and set up an appointment, yelled at them when they bailed on the first agreed upon time and then met with us on Friday night. (We LOVE Hannah for helping us!) The agents were VERY late and we were not hopeful about this place. We both REALLY wanted it but this was a rough start. After they arrived they tried to take us to view another apartment first. We disagreed and requested to see the one we originally called about. Once we got to the building (nice building but too far away) they told us that the one we saw isn’t actually available but they have another one similar...figures. They showed us a very, very small place similar to the one Carrie and I had lived in last year. This sucked...we were roped in my a pretty picture on a website and it was a fake. We agreed to go see the second apartment. It was in a much better location and the building was rather new. The 6th floor apartment was cute. We could see ourselves there but again it was kind of small. We told the landlords (with Hannah’s help) that we would think about it. We hit up the closest 7/11 grabbed some drinks and talked it out. We decided that it was everything that we needed right now. It was cute, cheap, great location and all we really needed in an apartment: a place to sleep, study, relax, cook, and keep our stuff. The requirements of most of my previous living arrangements was a place to keep my stuff because I often lived out of my car.
By Saturday morning, after a health check for me this time, we signed the lease and began moving in. Now moving itself is not the most fun activity in the world. Although, I am basically pro at moving now. In the last 6 or 7 years I have moved on average 2 times a year. I had reduced my possessions down to one car load and could move myself in an afternoon. Moving in Taiwan is a totally different experience. We do not own a car and scooters is the most impractical mode of transportation when lugging suitcases and garbage bags full of clothing, books, bedding and dishes. This did not stop us. We were determined to hammer this out in one day. Before we started to pack we hit up RT Mart (Taiwan’s Walmart) to get a few things. The bedroom needed a large desk and chair for JP’s computer and studying. We also needed new bedding (happy sheets as my mom would say) and some cleaning supplies. The two of us in a store usually means hours of wandering around touching everything we can. This was a mission though and we were in and out. We were on a schedule because the landlords needed us to be at the apartment to hook up internet, new locks (safest apartment in Taiwan I think) and a new shower head. After RT Mart we got a cab to move the new furniture to the apartment. We then hopped on the scooter back to the old place and started packing. We loaded large backpacks full of clothes on our backs, piled computers and bedding on the front of our scooters and off we went (driving slowly and carefully of course) We also employed the use of more taxi cabs. It did not take up long to pack away everything in the old apartment and had it sitting at the door ready to move. We had to load the elevator full, which is an annoying part of the moving process, and take it down from the 13th floor. One thing we discovered is that I am an IDIOT in an elevator. I can not seem to operate them. I let the doors close on JP or myself, press buttons I shouldn’t, move awkwardly once inside and I was even electrocuted by one. Once downstairs we would drag our things into the street and call a cab. JP had to ride in the cab full of our stuff to the new apartment because he could give directions in Chinese and I would follow on the scooter. Once we were at the new place we would then drag everything into another elevator and up to our apartment, dump out the luggage and drive with it back to the old apartment to re-fill. We repeated this process about three times until everything was in the new place. We spent our entire Saturday moving but it was worth it.
Our new apartment is by no means big. It is a tiny one bedroom, loft style apartment but we both just love it! It is everything we need. There is a small kitchen with a washing machine/dryer, burner, sink and fridge. The living room has a shelving unit, BIG flat screen TV, couch and coffee table. Up the stairs there is a great bedroom in a loft. There are curved rails along each side of the bedroom one by the stairs and the other by the window so if you look down you can see the first floor. In the bedroom there is built in storage, a little nook with a mirror and makeup table (that is what I am calling it) and JP’s new desk and chair. The bathroom has an amazing shower which was a huge selling point for us! There is the regular shower head you can take off the wall and spray around but there is also a large shower head that rains down on you or you can turn on a bunch of jets that are used to massage your back. There is a floor to ceiling window that fills one wall with a great view of the city. We are only 6 floors up but the buildings around us are short so our view is unblocked. We have an awesome location just off a main road, close to everything and we are minutes from my school. Finally, a little bonus we discovered is that in the elevator the highest floor number is 7 but there was another button choice that was an arrow up ... we pushed it. It took us to a "secret" 8th floor (I wonder how you get these apartments). After we found the 8th floor we continued up the stairs to find a great roof top!! It is a really nice space that we doubt anyone will use other then us. It is ideal for having friends over for drinks and bbq because it gives us the space our apartment doesn't have. But best of all the view from the roof is of the entire city and we can even see the ocean!
By about 2:00am we were finished and everything was in it's place. Our new place may be small but it punches way above it's size.