WE GOT OOONNNE!
Well, it took 36 days; it spanned the World Games, a typhoon, and a bumbling housing agent named Natalee Lee. I saw fire and I saw rain. I saw sunny days that I thought would never end, I saw lon…
HOLY CRAP I FINALLY HAVE AN APARTMENT!!!!
It’s true. I have a real live place to live that’s not a hostel. How fun. It took some work and some luck (as we all knew it would), but starting tomorrow night, I’ll be lying (laying? oh well, it’s not like I teach English grammar for a living) my head on a pillow in my very own room. Granted, it’s still a room that I pay another person to live in… Ok fine, snicker you homeowners! At least it’s not a hostel – it’s an apartment, designed for people to live in for long periods of time. And that’s more than fine by me.
As most of you dear readers know, I’ve been engaged in a long, emotional apartment search for the last couple of weeks. I’ve hunted high and low; I’ve paid said Natalee Lee a fair chunk of change to show me six crap apartments in pushy, broken English; I enlisted the help of every English speaker I’ve met in the last couple of weeks; but in the end, it was the handiword of my dear co-worker Fenny and a bit of perserverence that overcame.
As you’ll recall, Fenny (the head of the Chinese staff at my school) wrote down a few questions in Chinese for me to present to the gatekeepers (security guards) of apartment buildings around Kaohsiung. This proved to be the greatest resource a boy could want. I saw more apartments using this adult Chinese decoder sheet than I ever would have with Natalee, or even Jacky.
Speaking of Jacky… if you’ll remember, Jacky is the other bilingual housing agent that anyone here knows about. Well, Adam (my new roommate) saw one of Jacky’s ads on a local website, and it sounded just good enough to investigate. So we arranged to meet him at 10:30 on Tuesday morning, in an area of town called the Cultural Center. We like this Cultural Center area, and we’d been focusing a lot of our hunting there. So before we met with Jacky, we decided to use my adult Chinese decoder sheet at a building we’d already looked at a couple times. They showed us a place – it was okay, but we were eager to see what Jacky had to offer. We drove a block to the local McDonald’s to meet Jacky, and he proceeded to tell us where this apartment was. It was in the exact same building we had just been at. So we ask him which floor… “12,” he says. “12-2.” THE EXACT SAME MEDIOCRE APARTMENT WE’D JUST LOOKED AT FOR FREE! And he quoted the rent at $1000NT more than we had been told!! So he said ok, no worries, he knew of another apartment in that building for rent, and he’d be happy to show us. So we agreed. And wouldn’t you know it, it was ANOTHER APARTMENT I’D LOOKED AT WITHOUT HIM, USING MY ADULT CHINESE DECODER SHEET! And he said the rent was $2000NT more than I’d been quoted. So with that, we shook Jacky’s hand, told him thanks but no thanks, playfully rubbed his mop of hair (not really, but I wish we had), and swore off housing agents for the foreseeable future.
So… after the jump, find out where I actually am going to live. Fun times ahead!
Update! Now you can SEE PICTURES OF OUR HUMBLE ABODE!!
Soooo… from there we walked to another apartment building I’d seen a place in a couple days back. It’s a corner building, nothing too fancy-looking on the outside. It was an afterthought, really, but I wanted Adam to see what I’d seen, just to give him a typical idea of the price-range in this area. As I said, I’d already seen an apartment in this building, and it was a bit underwhelming – lots of space, but a less-than-attractive layout, and sparse grandma furniture. [Oh, that’s something you need to know – many apartments here are furnished. Adam and I were most definitely looking for a furnished apartment, since we’ve been here a combined 4 months. But of course, we were hoping to find – if we could – furniture that wasn’t en vogue during Nixon’s reign, or even Carter’s… or, if you will, furniture that is post-martial-law Taiwan. Ok, there you go.]
As I said, the first apartment I’d checked out in this building was underwhelming, but there was one attractive aspect that made me want to show Adam this place. The security guard didn’t speak any English, but he’d called Christina, a Taiwanese woman who lives in the building to come help translate. Ok, get your minds out of that darkest of places – she’s not attractive, and she offered no services, but she did speak perfect English, and she seemed like a straight shooter and someone we could trust. So when we arrived on Tuesday, we presented the guard with the adult Chinese decoder sheet, and he again called Christina the translator.
This time, he took us to see a different place, on the 9th floor. “Thirteen,” he tried to say in broken English. “Thirteen thousand [a month],” Christina translated. Our expectations were low. But… but the place was shockingly awesome. Especially for $13,000NT. Three rooms – two big rooms, one medium-sized room, and even a small one that could be used for storage or a mini bowling lane – marble floors, a big kitchen, a balcony, a beautiful corner view, thick, hanging curtains, etc. I told Adam we’d feel like Roman emperors if we got to live here. We were more than intrigued. The problem was, the place wasn’t furnished. “Oh sure,” we thought. “Thirteen thousand NT a month unfurnished, but how much with a grandma couch and a couple of ratty mattresses?”
So we all went downstairs and called the landlady. She put her son on the phone (he spoke great English), and he and I talked a little bit.
“What do you want to move into the apartment?” he asked.
“Um, a washing machine, a couch, a TV, and a full-sized mattress,” I said, tugging at my collar and gulping.
“Ok,” he said.
With that, Christina the UT (unattractive translator) got on the phone and talked to the landlady a little more. Adam and I exchanged less-than-hopeful glances. Then Christina got off the phone.
“So how much is the rent now?” we asked.
“Still $13,000NT,” she said matter-of-factly.
In case you’re wondering, $13,000NT is slightly less than $400 US a month. Which means slightly less that $200 US a month for each of us. That’s a good.
In fact, a few minutes later, Ms. Ling (the landlady) showed up to assure us that if we wanted to live there, she would spend $100,000NT to furnish the place and make us happy. Tails wagging, Adam and I agreed and eye-fived each other. We signed the lease the next day (with Christina proofreading, of course).
And tomorrow I will officially move in. I’ve been in Kaohsiung for 36 days.Those 36 days have spanned the World Games, a typhoon, and a bumbling housing agent named Natalee Lee. I’ve been hired, I’ve trained, and I’ve taught for 3 weeks. And tomorrow the final piece of the puzzle gets lodged in. I’ll miss you, hostel, but I can’t wait to leave you.
Now please, enjoy some photographs of our new place. As an added bonus today, you can click on each photo for a heartfelt caption/description. Please peruse and feel free to tell me what you think!
Bonus points for anyone who can tell me where the picture at the very top of the post is from…