Everything counts in small amounts

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Taipei Day Seven

So much as happened since the last post on Monday. It's impossible to recount it all here. I started work at Lih Jen, the private elementary school where I'll be teaching English. There's a large staff of 18 English teachers from all over the world: South Africa, England, Canada, America, the Philippines, and India. It's the most diverse working environment I've ever been in. Everyone seems friendly, the academic coordinator is good, and the school is fairly organized. Classes will start on Tuesday, August 30. I spent the week in orientation meetings, preparing my classroom, and planning lessons. It was all so new and exciting. The time went fast and it was enjoyable. I'll write more about the school later, when I take some pictures and meet the students. It might be pretty interesting for people who've never been to Taiwan. The school layout is very different than South Korea or North America.

Meantime, Jiyeoun's been very busy looking for an apartment. It's turned out to be much more difficult than we anticipated. The places we saw on Monday with Mr. Wu didn't fit our requirements. The first place he took us too was a six-story walk-up. There was no kitchen, a single room, and a bathroom that you shared with the occupents of the five other rooms on that floor. It was cheap, only 6,500 Tiwanese dollars or 200 USD a month. But, it was completely inappropriate. (Picture below)

The kind of place we're looking to rent -- a furnished one-bedroom with a bath and a private entrance -- is fairly unusual in Taiwan. Most people live with their families until they get married and then buy a house when they move out. Students rent or share rooms when they go to collage and then return home. So the majority of properties are either larger houses for sale or dormitory-style rooms with shared bathrooms and no kitchen for rent.

Jiyeoun has had a little luck. But, it's taken a lot of work on her part. Everything is in Chinese and she has to travel all over the city to see the places in Taipei's broiling hot weather. The best place she's found so far is on the outskirts of the city. It would be a 30-45 minute commute for us. I haven't seen it yet. But, she tells me it's in a slightly rundown neighborhood on the third floor of an older building. The interior is very clean, light, and furnished with everything we would need. The picture is below. It is very small by American standards: approximately 204 square feet or 56 square meters. But, it's okay by Korean or North East Asian standards. It costs 14,000 Taiwan Dollars or 345 USD.

Jiyeoun picked up the contract from the landlord last night. Of course it's all in Chinese. So, Mr. Lu and Cielo, his daughter, have been looking it over. They say the contract is unusually long and extremely detailed. It lists the individual pieces of furniture and the costs for replacing them. It also states we should clean and launder everything before we leave. Mr. Lu seemed to think the contract was a little strange. I thought it was good to have everything laid out so there were less questions and it appeared there were no unreasonable requirements. Although, there is a risk that the landlord will try to keep some of the our substantial, three-months deposit on the pretense that something in damaged even if we keep the place clean. That was Mr. Lu's concern. He pointed out that the contract states that we should replace anything thing that is warn or damaged. But, "worn" is obviously a gray area. Mr. Lu suggested we cross it out in the contract.

Our plan is to go to the place tonight so I can see it. If I like it, we'll talk about the contract. We're going to ask to change the vague language and disadvantageous arrangements. We'll move in if the landlord is amenable.


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