Today has been just so normal: I woke up and did a little yoga like I promised myself, got a breakfast hamburger, walked to the bank and had a nice little conversation, paid my security fee, had the rental agent in to take a look at the busted screens, and rearranged my one piece of furniture.
Now it’s noon and I’m taking a break to write and relax.
My bank is reasonably big, and so I have three branches in my city to choose from. The one I was introduced to is a little far without a scooter, but the walk is a lot more interesting because it’s non-stop city streets. However, on the bus the other day, I noticed another branch that was much easier to get to and probably a little closer, and since I needed to get some money and I didn’t want to pay ATM fees, I decided to check it out.
Now, there are definitely cars here (no grass shacks in Taipei, Irma!), but it’s not a car culture like Southern California, it’s a scooter or walking culture and because I don’t have a scooter, I’ve been doing a lot of walking. Even though there’s a lot to look at, it can get boring because of the distances, so I listen to podcasts or music. I recently discovered this series of documentaries from the BBC and the first one I listened to was pretty interesting, if a little heart-breaking. Check ‘em out if you’ve got any kind of commute. I also listen to SModcast, but don’t check it out if you don’t like cursing and such (parents, grandparents… just don’t).
It took about an hour to take care of the bank business, and that included breakfast, walking, fumbling in English and Chinese, and walking back. The fumbling was very fun, actually, because I got both good information out of the exchange (no fees for a low balance!), and also a little English-Chinese exchange going on with the nice cashier, whose friend was sitting to the side giggling all over the place. The cashier complimented me on my Chinese as people here are wont to do if you can say more than 你好, but he was very polite and I think I truly am getting better, or at least more confident with my tones in a somewhat constrained set of conversational topics.
I took a slightly more scenic route past the empty fields and two of three schools in my immediate vicinity and had a pleasant walk home. Lest “empty fields” give you too pastoral an idea of my city, let me say that they’re more like very large vacant lots that are pleasantly covered with green. I think the city is turning them into parks, but they’ve got a long way to go. Hopefully I’ll see some results before I move, but I imagine that depends on whether I stay in Taipei/Xinzhuang for the two years, or whether I go to Taichung or the east coast for my second year.