While living in Asia means that we have to do without some Western amenities (like an oven), Steve and I have gotten quite used to a few innovative things here. We’ve also learned that necessity is truly the mother of invention. Asian cities are some of the world’s most densely packed places, and constrained natural resources and space made these innovations not only helpful but necessary.
One of the first things that we saw in Japan (literally) was a toilet with a small faucet and sink on top. We were at our host Ken’s house, and I swore up and down I’d get a photo, and of course, I forgot, but luckily, plenty of other people online have documented these toilets. Much like some European houses, Japanese toilets tend to be in a different room from your sink and shower business, so to make it easy for you, when you flush, the water comes out of the faucet. You can wash your hands, and the dirty water will flow directly into filling the tank. Pretty brilliant. My family uses a number of water-saving techniques in the bathroom, but it’d just be simpler if versatile water usage were the norm that we strived towards!
Since we’ve been up to a hodgepodge of things, which is too hard to pigeonhole into categories, just enjoy a run-down of five things we’ve been doing recently!
1. Still photography. One of the things that I really want to do is get better at photography; I like taking a lot of pictures of different things I find beautiful, but my technique is really just point-and-shoot. The rest is the gorgeous DSLR camera my mother gave me for my birthday two years ago. Some of it has turned out nicely. Some of it looks silly enough that I don’t even want to put it up on Flickr yet. Here, have one of the more mundane samples that I like somehow!
After a week in Kaohsiung, Steve and I concluded that it was impossible to go into any store or down any street without catching glimpses of these rubber yellow ducks that were for sale seemingly everywhere. What was it all about? Was that a Taiwanese passion that no one told us about? A little rooting around online helped clarify things: it turns out that the little duck was really a HUGE duck. This 40 foot tall inflatable rubber duck is the work of Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, and had already been the focus of intense attention in Hong Kong for two months this spring. A version of it has entertained the world since 2007. And now it was in Kaohsiung.
The amount of media attention on the rubber duck has been a little incredible. Everyone from CNN and the China Post to finance blogs and the Denver Post (not to mention every single outlet in Taiwan) have all weighed in on Kaohsiung’s newest visitor, and duck fever effectively gripped the nation. You could buy duck t-shirts, stuffed animals, backpacks, flip-flops, hats, iPhone covers, earbuds, you name it. So, naturally, we had to go see too; Steve and I caught the duck on Sunday, the last day of its scheduled appearance in Glory Harbor. We walked to the nearby Central Park MRT stop, where free shuttle buses departing every five minutes shepherded visitors to the nearby harbor.
Edit: Added photos, updated information. Many more pics of Taiwan on the Flickr here.
On Sunday, we left Hualien and headed to Kaohsiung. It was a 5-hour train ride, and we had to stand for about half of it due to the holiday weekend. Connie already had appointments set up to see potential apartments, so we started back on that hunt right away. Apartment hunting is tedious and tiring, but we finally settled on a place Monday evening and moved in that night.