Colin and I have been late to just about every appointment we’ve made since we got here, and move-in day was no different. I’m sure being 15 minutes late to meet the landlord wouldn’t be a huge deal…
I suppose that tardiness wouldn’t have changed our final leg of the journey: schlepping everything we brought with us—almost 100 lbs for me (a large chunk on wheels) and well over 100 lbs for Colin (much of which had been on wheels to start, but no longer was at this point)—three-quarters of a mile to get to our new apartment from the MRT station in 90-degree F heat.
I’ll do the math for you: it equals miserable.
But of course we made it, and Anders helped us drag our belongings up six flights of stairs, so Colin could turn around and help him drag his stuff down.
The first red flag had been when Anders sent Colin a text message asking us to come at 1, an hour later than planned, so they could clean. This happened a mere 3 hours before that fateful 1 o’clock hour, when we were to meet the landlord, hand over NT$35,000 (~US$1,000 for first month’s rent, a two-month security deposit, and furniture from the old tenants) and sign a lease.
A second red flag should have been Melissa’s harping on Anders to get our money for the furniture, even when they didn’t have all of their money for last month’s Internet.
The biggest flag of them all should have been what Anders said to Colin: “We’re dropping the price of the couch because of a… cat mess. But that should all be dry by now.”
There had been too many sweaty bodies breezing in and out of the apartment to notice any cat mess aroma. Anders and Melissa were almost moved out, but there were still boxes in the hallway, food in the fridge, and bottles of shampoo, etc., in the bathroom.
The landlord appeared (after we did, thankfully) and we began going over the contract, Melissa doing all of the translating. He asked her to reconfirm that we were fine with the walls painted as they are—pineapple yellow and green-tea green—and then he listed all of the improvements he’ll be doing on the place—fixing the cheap armoire, replacing the screen door to the balcony, fixing the door panel that Anders slid through one day as he was getting out of the shower.
By the middle of the afternoon it was just the two of us in our empty, yellow and green, sixth-floor apartment. Time to fill it—time for shopping.
We walked about 15 minutes to the closest night market, Lehua, where we figured we’d be able to find some furnishings for cheap. Colin immediately spotted the Taiwanese version of a Wal-Mart—not in the corporation sense, but in that it had just a little bit of everything (and most of it made in China). We found two more of these stores amid the two blocks of food and clothing stalls, bedding shops, and mini arcades.
Lehua is nicer than Shilin because there are more families and fewer trendy teenagers.
Hours later we returned home with hangers, incorrectly sized sheets, and various other home bits that have been forgotten among the many, many trips back to those stores.