Hello, and yes I’m still here. To everyone who has been wondering if Taiwan has fallen into the ocean the way California’s supposed to and nobody's mentioned it on the news: no, it hasn’t. We’re all still afloat over here, though after the monsoon winter we might be riding a few inches lower in the water, but I believe that’s being improved with each sunny day we accrue.
Nearly a month ago – good Lord, has it been that long already? – I moved into an apartment with my friend and fellow teacher, Clara. It’s taken us quite a while to reconnect to the Internet, partially due to the inadequacy of Chunghwa Telecom to give us any useful information and partially to our increasingly busy schedules.
Neither of us liked this place when we first saw it, but gradually it grew on us, and after looking at a few other places we decided to take this one. It's quite old but spacious with lots of windows, a big kitchen and a huge bathroom. It’s on the fourth floor of an old building, and despite the windows it gets stuffy up here. It’s accessible through a very Taiwanese serious of alleys that are barely wide enough for a scooter, the narrowest of which provide some nice dark shadows where the stray cats like to leave stinking surprises where you can’t see them. There are four bedrooms, though we opted not to invite anyone else to live with us because the rooms are very small and because the whole thing's so cheap. But because of the age of the building, not all its various parts were in working order. It's interesting to see what constant rain and humidity will do to a city, and the measures people take - or don't take - to ward off mold. Since moving in we’ve had the couch replaced, the hot water heater tuned and fixed twice, the gas tank refilled, a new hot water dispenser brought in (for drinking water), and have acquired one blessed fan. We have two air-conditioning units, but they look as old as the building itself and are rather feeble. Even scarier, the one in my “office” smelled strongly of fire the other day, and it took me a few days before I got up the nerve to try it again, but I finally did and it’s been inexplicably fine. Since then everything’s seemed steady; nothing’s going to blow up, leak, crumble, or suddenly implode. And as of yesterday we've got the Internet too!
There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.
- Robert Louis Stevenson