Homeward Bound

Thursday, 30 January, 2014

Taipei, Taiwan

The immediate priority when coming to Taiwan was to seek out a job, as I’m currently pretty broke. The second concern would be to find a flat with a landlord that wouldn’t make us pay too much of a deposit up front, once again, because I’m poor.

Why do I never try to save up a bit of money before making these life altering moves to the other side of the world? Do I need to be licking a used fork that I’ve pulled out of a park bin for dinner, before I fully understand the importance of money?

Just to make things slightly more difficult, we are also now in the middle of Chinese New Year, therefore, landlords are pretty preoccupied with family events. A further burden being that most food shops are also closed – so, licking forks could become a harsh reality even sooner than I though.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a few stalls still open. They’re just usually very holiday themed – mostly selling red envelopes and traditional New Year cakes. Sure, a sweet snack does beat a used fork, but neither are really ideal for dinner are they?

I left England only a few weeks ago and I’m already seeing my homemade beans on toast in my dreams – yes, I have limits as a chef.

Initially, we decided that we would be able to just kind of sniff out a flat. We went to the area that we had been recommended and started to wander around the streets in search of estate agents and signposts – on reflection, there are probably more productive methods.

We did still see a very promising sign (that we couldn’t read) in the window of a block of flats. We entered the building and asked the man working on reception if he could explain the poster – the fact the place came with a help desk was probably enough to indicate that this place would be out of our price range, but I guess at the time we were pretty naive.

The receptionist called the man whose flat was available to rent and he came down to meet us, in a very expensive looking suit and tie – red flag number two. He was very friendly and took us up to the room via the lift with the glass windows, which allowed a beautiful view of the small fountain in the complex’s garden area.

At this point, I knew that I was pretty out of my depth. I mean, I was going to need some frigging bargaining skills if I was going to bag a place with a receptionist, a glass lift and a fountain from a bloke with the most expensive suit I’ve ever seen. Particularly, as I can currently only offer him about twenty quid.

Still, we got this far, we should probably continue to humour him and observe the flat itself – just so that I can see how great my life could have been if I had actually tried at school.

He swiped us into the room with a bit of plastic, obviously, – this guy doesn’t have the time to be pissing around with keys – and the place was a paradise. My favourite room was the one with the ball pool, I couldn’t believe my eyes, it even came with a little slide too. Think of the parties!

While the sofa in the living room was so long it looked as though it could have seated a herd of elephants. Although, nothing could really impressed me after seeing the ball pool. The salesman’s downfall was peaking too soon – I’d suggest putting a sheet over the pool, and saving it as your big reveal at the end to grantee the deal (well, you know, when somebody with more than twenty quid to their name comes over anyway).

The ball pool room also gave me an out, it was clearly a place designed for parents with young kids – thus, not to our taste (obviously a lie, I’d bloody love a ball pool in my house). I could now decline without even needing to confess about my true financial status of bean dreams and possible fork licking.

It didn’t take us long to realise that this method was a lost cause. We should be sat in our hostel using the internet, that is, after all, the world’s brain in 2014 – we really ought to get with the times. So, we decided that we would go back to the hostel and see what we could find online.

Only, when we got back we had a more pressing matter to deal with – the hostel owner informed us that she had given our place to somebody else. We were renewing the room day to day due to our uncertain future and this was a very busy holiday period, she informed us nicely but firmly. Well, crappity, crap, crap! Not only will I be licking the forks, I’ll be sleeping alongside them too.


The hostel owner spent the next day helping Amy find flats online, which confirmed that she did have a heart after all. I came back from work to hear that we would be viewing a place in a few hours, that was a promising start. As we were in a pretty desperate spot, we were not likely to be too picky either – my only restriction was that it had a ball pool.

In our previous showing, we travelled to the place in a glass lift – it was very magical. This flat, on the other hand, didn’t even have a lift and was located on the seventh floor – I wouldn’t need to worry about signing up to the gym should we take this place, that’s for sure.

It was evident early on that this accommodation wasn’t going to come with a ball ball. In fact, the entire flat was probably about the same size as Mr. Suit’s ball pool room – the two viewings were like night and day. I mean, the only way the sofa from the last place could fit in this room, is if half of it was sticking out of the window.

We were looking at a shoebox, there were no two ways about it. However, the rent was cheap and the deposit was minimal. That’s all that really mattered in the grand scheme of things.

The landlord was also wearing a vest that read, ‘The sun with you together’. While that makes very little sense, I saw the poor English as a positive. For some reason, I decided that this meant that she was more on our level than a man in a suit with a ball pool room.

We moved in yesterday. Sure, it’s a shithole, but it’s our shithole.

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