Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Sep 15 2002

"Dean, get over here," I said. "There’s a place yo…

“Dean, get over here,” I said. “There’s a place you should see.”

Dean and Kay’s lease is up soon, and they’ve been looking, unsuccessfully, for a new place. Their present apartment, while spacious, is rather dark and dreary, and I think the only one who likes it is Evil Cat, simply because the shadows afford greater ambush possibilities.

The building next door to the Chungking Mansions Taipei, however, was advertising a small, 18-ping flat for 15k a month. It was a corner apartment, windows on two sides, 9th floor, bright, perfect for two people but too large and expensive for one…me, namely. I had called Dean Friday night after I saw it, but he wasn’t answering his phone. Now, Saturday morning, I waited at the MRT station for my friends to show up. We walked the hundred meters or so to the place and asked the elderly guard for the keys. He seemed confused, and at first we attributed it to his advanced age, but when we stepped out of the elevator on the 9th floor, we saw the reason for his stammering: Someone was already there. It was the landlady and a prospective tennant, another middle-aged Taiwanese woman.

In retrospect, perhaps we should have beat a strategic retreat at that point, but we hadn’t thought it out at that point. The moment we entered, eager looks on our faces, the prospective tennant became an actual tennant. Sorry, the place just rented. To her daughter. Just her daughter. Who hadn’t seen the place. Who might not even want a place. Who is probably living in Paris right now and will receive a letter from mommy informing her that she can move back to Taiwan as a suitable downtown apartment has been found.

Dean and Kay liked the area, though, so we spent the rest of the afternoon walking up and down alley after alley, hoping for a nice rooftop to make itself available. As we were walking we spotted a place to sit down and have some drinks. The name on the sign was in a curiously garbled font. “Blue…….Death?” I ventured, trying to make sense of it as we approached. “No, Beach! Blue Beach!”

“That would make slightly more sense,” Dean replied. The place had a glass floor with fish swimming around underneath. The bathroom sink consisted of a small waterfall splashing down some green rocks. It’s the kind of place where you’re constantly hesitating for hear of plunging into the water. Even the toilet, conveniently squat style, is placed as if floating in a strangely quiet plastic ocean. Unfortunately the food we had there was rather awful. I suppose we should have asked for fish instead of bagels and toast with our drinks (Kay’s “Blue Hawaii was distinctly and disturbingly Green), but I don’t think I would have enjoyed eating fish while be watched by said fish’s brothers and sisters. Blue Death, indeed.

It’s far easier, I have found, to shop for a larger apartment than a single-person one here, since Taiwanese society assumes that all single people, no matter extremely rich or extremely poor (there seems to be little room for the average here), want to live in crowded urban environments. When I was looking in Muzha a realtor told me that there simply weren’t any rooms for single people available. In the whole area, which is quite large actually. Even in Danshui there was little available, at least around the MRT. It seems that the MRT lines were laid out according to who wanted them the most, and for some reason the people that wanted the prestige of having an MRT station turned out to be families with cars.

I was exhausted, needless to say, when I went over to Sanmin Road for Taijiquan practice. More and more people are showing up there each time, and I wonder if the teacher can deal with them all as effectively as he can just a few people. I might want to start looking for a new teacher, someone somewhat closer to where I live.

After practice I realized that, with the exception of a particularly bad bagel at the partially flooded restaurant that afternoon while househunting, I hadn’t eaten all day, so I stopped off at the new, less-tacky Friday’s on Dun-hua N. Road. They’ve taken down something like 62% of the paraphernalia from the walls and tried to instill a mix of 40’s and 50’s decor, which is bizarre in itself, but slightly nicer on the eyes than the old style. It’s more of a Denny’s feeling now. Denny’s with Some Stuff on the Walls. And pictures of New York City, including the WTC, in the bathroom above the urinals.

Later on, feeling guilty about not getting Dean to the Apartment on Time, I called him to ask how the house search was proceeding. He said that they have found a place, a spacious rooftop, close to where they’re living now but much brighter. In a way it’s too bad; I had a good time walking around with them looking at places. I suppose this is a leftover from my childhood, when my parents would take out househunting every Sunday after church, even though we weren’t really seriously thinking of moving. We were always thinking of moving, though, and I enjoyed looking at strangers’ houses on sunny afternoons. As a result, however, I am always thinking of moving now, and moving’s kind of a bitch, especially when you’ve been here long enough to have accumulated a serious shitload of stuff that needs to be moved. It was ok back when I was relatively new here and didn’t have more than could be put in the trunk of a car, but now I need at least a truck, especially with all of this furniture. Perhaps the next time I move I should try to get rid of some of the stuff. And knowing me, that could be sooner rather than later.

posted by Poagao at 4:15 am  

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