Tuesday and Wednesday were originally supposed to be spent playing the tourists a little more, perhaps going down to southern Taiwan and seeing the beaches. But late Monday night, when no plans had made, and our apartment, sparsely furnished with the wonky furniture left behind, stared dopily at us, we decided to put it off a day. Make that double for Tuesday night.
At some point, perhaps Tuesday morning, we bought bleach and sponges to finish the cleaning that Melissa and Anders had started. Our bathroom and kitchen have drains conveniently located in the floor, so Colin splashed a little bleach around and a few minutes later I washed it down. Our second-hand Brita filter was cracked and leaking all over the floor, so Colin patched it up with some super glue. I took all of the shelves out of the fridge, which they had emptied but not cleaned, and scrubbed what looked like hardened soy sauce out of the crisper and tiny flies out of the freezer door. What were flies doing in the freezer? Unsolved mystery. But now that the fridge was clean, it was time to be filled.
Where would two culturally sensitive individuals with limited storage space go next? To Costco, of course.
Yep, Costco. Anders had told us about it the night before. We donned our backpacking backpacks and caught a bus that took us right there. Walking in was like being right back in the States, with even the layout of the store being familiar. All of the signs had English (and Chinese), and it was stocked with everything you’d expect to find in an American Costco—there were even samples.
The Taiwanese line up for these samples. Those seatbelt-like ropes keep people orderly at the really popular sample stations—not that that’s necessary. These people are professional queue-uppers.
Our reason for trekking across town with our empty backpacks was to pick up some of the things we knew we’d be going through a lot of, like oatmeal, in bulk. Also, Colin wanted a hotdog. Because it’s been so long since he’s been able to have one, you know?
We found a table for our roof—we’d shared our first dinner up there already on Sunday, leaning against the tile ledge—but passed on the chairs because they were a good deal more than we wanted to spend. Collecting a few samples along the way, we picked up a “bulk” loaf of bread (25 perfectly square slices of white bread) and a brick of mozzarella, then we found the oatmeal and cold cereal aisle. They, too, were more expensive than Colin had expected. We settled on getting the oatmeal but passed on the cereal, and we passed on any produce except a sack of American potatoes.
Even without getting too many items, we managed to spend over NT$3,000 and fill our giant bags, but we got back on the bus with no trouble until Colin noticed one foot was missing from the table. So much of the rest of our furniture was junky—I really didn’t want our one piece of new furniture to be junky too. Nearly home, we got off the bus to catch one in the Costco direction.
I’ve been stared at a lot since we got here; everyone knew that was going to happen. But in the fifteen minutes that Colin left me sitting outside with both bags while he went in to exchange the table, I got more prolonged stares and double-takes and “What the heck is she doing?” looks than ever before. I tried as hard as I could to look normal, sitting on the railing of a Costco with two full backpacks at my feet, with the night doing nothing to hide my freckled skin and red hair.
Back home four hours after we’d left, Colin started running circles around the room—putting things away, organizing the kitchen, figuring out where to put six months’ worth of oatmeal—while I sat, worn out from probably jetlag, on our newly sheeted bed. Feeling worthless, I finally joined him in the yellow room, where the stuffy smell of cat-mess couch was overwhelming.
No more! I can’t keep pretending this thing doesn’t smell or that it will go away on its own. Whatever’s in there needs to be faced!
Where the black leather had ripped, the foam beneath it was greenish and moist. They had shoved some baking soda mixture into the cracks of the cushions and covered the whole mess with an old yellow-orange blanket that in no way matches the walls. Oh yes, the gloves were on—rubber gloves, that is.
I spent the next hour manically shearing the couch with our $0.50 scissors. I was ready to push the damn thing off the balcony, but Colin humored me and told me it smelled better already and grabbed me for a dance, rubber gloves and all.
Wednesday was similar—more cleaning, more putting away, more shopping at our market-adjacent stores with their horrible music and now-memorized layouts. I would be happy to never return to those stores again, but they have been invaluable in furnishing our apartment with kitchen gear, cleaning supplies, and other everyday bits that you don’t realize you’ll need.
Other highlights from those two days include taking out the garbage—trash trucks drive by twice a day, six days per week, blaring a tinny “Fur Elise” to alert residents to come downstairs with their garbage sorted into general waste, recyclables, and food—and planting our herb garden—rosemary, basil, and mint.