Housing Surprises

My things have not arrived. They were supposed to have arrived Friday (two days ago), but the moving company is estimating Oct 15. There was a shipment delay whose cause I have not yet identified.

However, since I had planned for this possibility, it has been the least of my problems.


My bed is a rollable camping pad. No sheets, but I brought four aikido uniforms. The tops of two are pillows. The rest of the camping pad is wrapped variously with another top, two bottoms, and an small towel. A large towel is a blanket. The uniforms are all clean, and I ran a rag across the floor, which is now clean enough to eat off of. I still have one more uniform for training, which will be able to wash with the washing machine I bought yesterday.

I have slept three nights on this so far, and it is comfortable. The first two nights were in a room with a window toward the four-lane Xinhai Road. Being about 100 meters away from the road, I had thought that it would be quiet enough. With the window closed, it was indeed quiet enough to fall asleep, but every so often throughout the night, very loud motorcycles would speed by, waking me up. I suspect these have been modified by having their mufflers removed.

There is another bedroom, with a window on a courtyard. I had tried to sleep in this one the second night, but when I turned the air conditioning on, it did not smell right, and when I lay down, my eyes became very itchy. This was in spite of making the floor clean enough to eat off of. I turned the air conditioner off, but worrying about what was in the air, I returned to the first room – the one with the window facing Xinhai Road. My eyes did not itch upon waking up.

The third night, I slept with the air conditioning off in the second room – the one with the window to the courtyard. With the air conditioning off, my eyes were fine. As I was falling asleep, I was woken up once by my neighbor’s retrieving and replacing the shower hose from its receptacle. Evidently, the wall is thin here. However, the road noise did not bother me, and I slept through the night.

I was woken this morning by the cooing of innumerable pigeons. It seems that my downstairs neighbors are farming pigeons on the balcony just under mine in the courtyard.


my courtyard balcony

This explains the few downy feathers I found yesterday morning when I scrubbed the balcony. One other thing I noticed after I scrubbed was a strange biological smell – it was unpleasant enough that I closed the sliding door to the courtyard, which I had hitherto kept open during the day because it had a cooling effect on the entire house. I thought maybe the mildew in Taiwan is different, but now I know that it was the faint smell of bird shit. They probably do a good job of cleaning, or else it would have been instantly identifiable. The mystery of my itching eyes is also now solved – I attribute it to particulate bird shit and bird dander having made their way into the air conditioning unit. The problem with this is that even if I ask the landlord to clean the air conditioning unit, it would not solve the root cause, namely that my downstairs neighbors are farming pigeons. The problem is mitigated by the coming winter months, which will make the air conditioner unnecessary.

I had thought I might avoid surprises by choosing to rent in a neighborhood with easy assess to universities and the financial district. The trouble with new places is that old intuition and common sense don’t work anymore. My co-worker told me he was thinking of moving. He is considering paying six times market average to live in an upscale shopping district, which I had thought this was hideously wasteful, but now I wonder if paying that much allows one to avoid surprises.

Having finally gotten a good night’s rest, though, I am in good spirits.

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