IKEA and the Cat Lady
August 28, 2014
Last Friday I purchased a scooter from another teacher who was ending his contract and going back to his home country. I can’t even tell you the model or the year. I just know that I now have a new/used set of wheels in my life and it is great! In the area that I am in the lack of fast transportation can make going wherever you want a hassle. You have to either rely on public transportation, a bicycle, or someone else to take you there. Having my own scooter has made it that much easier to go to school, go to any store I want, or even go to different cities.
There is a page on Facebook where people in the Taichung area sell their stuff. A woman was advertising American sized clothing on the page and I thought it was a perfect opportunity for me to get loose fitting work pants. Wearing jeans right now is like asking for a heat stroke. This same woman was also selling books, and getting books in English for cheap in Taiwan is not something you come by every day. I told the woman I was interested in her items and she sent me her address. According to Google maps it would take me forty minutes to get there. When talking about this at work my co-worker mentioned that IKEA was in that area. I thought hey why not, and googled that as well.
So on Thursday after I got done teaching my afternoon class I got on my scooter and made my way to IKEA. Now Google maps has an interesting way of giving directions sometimes. It isn’t the most updated in Taiwan, and the transportation button doesn’t accommodate scooters. (There are certain highways and roads that do not allow scooters). Since this was my first time driving to IKEA and a long distance with my scooter I was not driving very fast, and I wasn’t very confident on where I was going. It took me nearly an hour to get to IKEA.
If you have ever been in IKEA before you know what a maze it can be. The Taichung IKEA makes you go all the way to the top and walk all the way down through all the show rooms. I was looking for furniture for my balcony and I thought for sure I could find some assembled balcony stuff in IKEA. After taking forever to walk around and look at everything I realized I needed to meet that woman. I started speed walking through IKEA and it still took me forever to get through it. Looking at the furniture I liked I realized that it would be way to much of a hassle to try to scooter home. So I ditched the furniture idea and just purchased some picture frames. Before I left I realized I couldn’t leave IKEA without getting IKEA ice cream. I got an ice cream cone and a pork bun for 25 NT (84 cents USD).
Then I tried to figure out how to get to this lady’s apartment. Currently on Winxin Road in Taichung they have this massive construction going on to make a subway/train system in the city. Because this was going on I couldn’t see the other side of the street. After parking and talking on the phone with the woman I just realized it would be easier for me to just walk 5 blocks than try to figure out how to get my scooter on the other road. Once I found the woman she took me up to her apartment. I could easily describe this woman as a hippie, and I was thinking the minute I noticed something weird I was going to bolt. No kidnappings for me today thank youuuuuu! We got onto her apartment floor and before we went inside she asked me if I was allergic to cats. I was thinking in my head: “REALLY LADY! You ask someone if they are allergic to cats about 2 seconds before they go into your apartment after they just drove an hour to get here!?!?!” I AM allergic to cats by the way and I have only found one cat that doesn’t make me feel like I am going to die, and that is my sister’s cat back home. I walk into her apartment after changing my shoes and I immediately feel like I am going to die. I see 5 cats, but I am sure that there are more hiding throughout the apartment. There is also no air conditioning in her apartment so it felt like a million degrees. She brings the clothes to me, which of course have cat hair on them, and I try them on quickly in the bathroom. Only a couple fit, and if I lose any weight they are going to be loose, but with teaching that will be okay. When you work with kids there is really no point in trying to dress to impress when you will just end up sweating within 5 minutes of teaching anyways. Since I was sweating and I was trying on cat hair infested pants my legs started itching relentlessly. As soon as I picked what I wanted and paid for the pants and books I was out of there. You couldn’t have paid me to stay in that apartment any longer.
Outside I walked back to my scooter and put my GPS on to go home. I realized that I had only 35% battery, and knew if I was going to get home without getting really lost I needed to go now. I scootered home and made it back within an hour. My battery was literally on 2% when I walked through my apartment door. While waiting for my battery to recharge I wondered what I should do about the furniture situation. I decided to say screw it and I drove to Carrefour in Fengyuan. There I was able to find some school supplies, a comfy chair and a little folding table all for 1,500 NT (50 USD). I walked out of Carrefour pleased with myself, but then realized I now had to get my things home. I maneuvered my things onto my scooter, while this Taiwanese man watched, and started it up. I slowly made my way home and made it back all in one piece.
Does this mean I am officially a Taiwanese expat local?