Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Signs and Portents

At first I thought it was an ice-cream truck.  The song was Für Elise, and I could hear it coming down the street, even from inside our temporary apartment.  Robyn and I were the only ones home: Katy and Elaine had both gone to work and weren't expected back for another hour or so.  We'd had instructions to take the garbage down if we could catch the garbage truck, but I didn't hear any beeping at all, so I figured it hadn't come.  Later, of course, I put two and two together, and after much scribbling and carrying of remainders came up with the shocking sum of four.  The garbage trucks here play Für Elise, over and over again, like the ice-cream trucks in the States.  When you hear it, you have to grab your garbage and run down with it to the street, where the truck is collecting the neighborhood trash.  If you have more than one bag to throw away, you have to pay a fee.  

Recycling is separate - all plastic bottles can be recycled, as well as all glass.  All paper gets recycled, including waxy paper from food containers, as long as you rinse it off first (this means milk cartons and most to-go boxes...keep up, US!).  Matte plastic bags can be recycled, but not shiny transparent ones.  Plastic containers of all kinds get recycled, as long as they're rinsed first.  As far as I know, you don't get charged for having a bunch of stuff to recycle.  

Katy and I are fortunate enough to have a service that takes care of garbage and recycling for us, so we take ours out to a red bin in one of the stairwells whenever we like instead of running down the hall whenever we hear the tinkling strains of Beethoven (apparently he's popular here?) drifting through the window.

Sometimes, here, I could swear I smell plantain roasting on charcoal stoves - a smell I associate exclusively with Ghana.  It's always very briefly coming out of a lane or on a short-lived breeze, and then I'll pass a bakery and smell buttery baked rolls, or milk tea from a shop, or stinky tofu from a night market.  The hairstylists' places smell like a US mall.  The bookstores smell like bookstores, and the 7-11s smell like 7-11s.  (The snozzberries smell like snozzberries!)  I wonder which of these I'll associate with Taiwan.  I thought I had it the other day - an almost sweet smell, a little spicy, like cinnamon perhaps (or maybe cassia).  

After work today I wandered around a little bit, discovering many interesting signs and fashion, and then walked home over the bridge from Sanchong and took some pictures of the area around the city on the Danshui River.  Katy's school is to the north, and my School 8 is to the south and east.  Sanchong is over the river to the west.  Every time I cross the river I'm surprised by the mountains again.  I love having mountains around.  They give me a horizon to look for.


Mary said...

Hey Rowan: I really enjoy reading your blog(especially since Katy has only made one entry on hers so far). And thanks for thinking of me (picture 7 of 20). I hope you are enjoying your Taipei adventure!
Take care,
Katy's Mom

Hobbes said...

I find that I can never really pinpoint the smell I'll associate with something until I smell that smell somewhere else completely and think of it. Like a couple days ago I randomly smelled my elementary school cafeteria, and I can't even describe the odor...