Taipei: Living Arrangements

Today is Saturday – the beginning of a long weekend. It’s cold and rainy, but the next three days look right now like they will be warm and sunny. So I decided to do a load of laundry and cook today since I will be indoors. Neither of these things is the same as doing them in the U.S. would be.

Laundry. Doing laundry here is frustrating. I am one of the lucky ones because I have a combo washer/dryer in my apartment. However, all of the controls are in Mandarin Chinese. I have a friend who gave me a translation of the controls, but it’s still confusing. I wind up drying most of my clothes by hanging them outside on my “patio” which takes forever and makes some of them stiff. This is especially annoying when washing my sheets as I am today. Fun.

Food. Grocery shopping here is mostly good. I’ve always liked grocery shopping. It’s a little more work here as I get things from multiple places – coffee, pasta, rice and dairy from the grocery store; bread from the bakery; fruits and vegetables from the market.

I made a vegetable soup today. Getting fresh fruits and vegetables is easy, and the variety available is much greater than at home in the U.S. I like to go to the market on the weekends to pick up things I want or need – even getting fresh nuts – or simply wander and watch. Vegetables are fairly inexpensive, but fruit can be pricey. It’s totally worth it, though!

That leads to another drawback…cooking. I’ve never been much of a cook, but living here has made me want to learn. My first year here my apartment didn’t have a kitchen at all. I had a small refrigerator, and that’s it. It was like living in a college dorm room only no microwave either. Seriously, the only kitchen appliances I had were a small refrigerator and a small coffee pot. I didn’t want any more either because washing my dishes out in the bathroom sink was a little bit gross and clogged the drain.

In my new apartment, I have a tiny kitchen with a microwave, hot plate, small refrigerator and sink – hallelujah! I look forward to having a full kitchen with counter tops and an oven one of these days! I swear, I will learn to cook and take full advantage of that kitchen.

Garbage: good and bad. Recycling is mandatory here which is great! It is so important to our environment. However, it’s kind of a pain to have to separate everything in my tiny space – plastics, food, paper, and regular trash – and take it out every few days. And I can only take it out when the garbage trucks come by which is at 8:00 pm every night except Sunday and Wednesday. Then it’s a party!

Everyone comes down to the street and waits for the trucks to come and make their stop, while playing music like an ice cream truck, and put out the bins for each type of item. Then I wait in line for each and drop off what I have. It’s a little chaotic. I am happy to do it because recycling is important, but it’s not something I enjoy. Some of the people can be rude and pushy so I generally let them go in front of me. It’s doesn’t take that much longer to be polite and wait.

The final big difference is the size of my apartment. I am definitely doing tiny house living. My whole apartment could fit into my previous living room. This is nice because cleaning only takes an hour, but it would be nice sometimes to have more room. I get the appeal of a tiny house, though, because it does inspire me to get out more. I can only spend so much time in my little place before feeling closed in. Multiple typhoon days can be torturous!

Adjusting to living here was…well…an adjustment! But it is certainly a simpler way of life. I have fewer things. I have fewer bills. I have more free time. I do more. Although it’s different, the end result is the same – clean clothes, food to eat, a place to sleep.

I feel fortunate to have those things when I know there are many who don’t.

And, let’s be honest, size doesn’t always matter.






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