For Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, we rededicated ourselves to the task of getting the house together.
Our first baby rosemary plants popped up, which made us extra expectant for the basil and mint that just aren’t doing as well.
Wanting only to be consistent, we ran, yes ran, to our orientation for class Friday afternoon and were still 5 minutes late. Absorbing the information in the welcome video proved a bit difficult with sweat running down my face.
It was a small group in the room, and a young German with closely cropped hair suggested afterward that we all get a drink someplace. Over teas (green tea with plum) we learned he ended up already having a few years of Mandarin under his belt, so he would not be in our Elementary 1A class.
Pascal, a twentysomething high school teacher from Switzerland, and Jason, a thirtysomething New Yorker tired of the teaching-English-in-Asia circuit, were other beginners like us, and seemed like quality guys.
Saturday was lost to shopping: we walked a couple miles (we’re working on the bus system…) to a weekend morning market that was supposed to be like a flea market and would hopefully have inexpensive furniture for the apartment and roof. The problem was, after leaving late, taking slightly indirect routes to get there, finally asking for directions and misinterpreting them, we arrived at the morning market at 11:40.
It did look like the vendors were packing up the kind of market we needed though, minus any obvious furniture. We strolled through to look at the remaining wares, and I pulled Colin over to a ground-level display of teapots. A fish lid, how cute!
“Duo shăo qián? [How much?]”
He typed into his cell phone 400 and handed it to me, asking me “Duo shăo qián?”
I typed in 200.
He typed in 350.
I typed in 250, and he brushed his hands and nodded in defeat. I just won at bargaining?
Who’s to say what the pot is really worth, but I figure for US$7.50 it’s a pretty good deal.
We weren’t finished shopping though, oh no! We bussed across the river to Taipei City and MRTed (yeah, it’s a verb) to the all-day Flower and Jade (and, Colin insists, Other Stuff) Market. Aisles of dazzling jade and jade-like glass stretched on for the length of three warehouses, with vendors talking the trade and sizing up each others’ goods behind the folding banquet tables.
Continuing for several more blocks was the flower market, where the most popular plants seemed to be orchids and small cacti. To add to our plant family, I bought two small orchids, and Colin bought a bamboo plant. This inspired us to get our strawberry seeds in the ground, too. So now we’ve got a planter of herbs, a planter of strawberries, a hanging something named Sherman, two orchids named Bucky and Satchel, and a bamboo plant named Klettus the Muffin.
Coming back with our plants and teapot, we stopped at Frank’s pie shop for a drink. He was throwing a barbecue, but we’d arrived a bit early and finished our beers just as other people started showing up. Reeking from walking all over town, we excused ourselves, then bullied ourselves into returning that evening after a shower. We showed up just as a rugby game was starting on TV—South Africa vs. Australia—and we stayed until halftime. It wasn’t quite the gathering of contacts that we’d hope it would be, but at least people maybe saw us there.
Sunday was more mellow; I spent most of it catching up here. Great news folks, we’re almost to the point where these updates will be timely!