I’ve had a very productive week, which is why I haven’t written a new blog entry in a bit–I was actually out doing stuff instead of sitting in front of my computer feeding my repetitive stress injury. When I was back in New York City figuring out what to pack, I realized that living off two suitcases worth of stuff for a couple years wouldn’t be that hard for me because all I really need in life are three things: 1) my clothes, 2) my Blythe dolls and 3) the Internet.

As it turns out, however, I also need a washing machine to wash said clothes, and a television for when my wrists finally start aching too much to continue using my computer.

So last Saturday, Ron and I took a short trip to the intersection of XiaMen Street (廈 門 街) and TingZhou Road (汀 州 跟 二 段) to purchase a secondhand (二手, èr shǒu) television set and washing machine. XiaMen Street is stuffed with stores selling quality first- and secondhand household items, including some spiffy looking furniture:

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We bought a washing machine and TV for Taipei $3,000 (about US $99) each–my language partner told me that you shouldn’t have to spend more than that for a television. I don’t think a lot of expats know about XiaMen Street, but it’s perfect if you only plan to stay in Taipei for a bit and don’t want to sink money into brand-new appliances. The washing machine we purchased had been barely used, and was delivered and installed by the store we purchased it from. You can see it behind Ron in this picture:

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Isn’t it adorable? When we got home, Ron and I threw several weeks of dirty laundry into it and stared at the spin cycle in silence, slack-jawed, for several minutes. For the past month, we’ve been handwashing our clothes using a mixture of lye and ash in a giant iron cauldron over an open fire, so finally having a machine is a real treat. Most apartments in Taipei don’t have a dryer to save space and energy, and instead have balcony space that is designed to be wide and long enough for a couple of clothing lines. The washing machine we got is a “smart machine,” which means it weighs your laundry load before calculating how long the wash/rinse/spin cycle should be for maximum water removal. All the buttons are in Chinese, so I just press the one that says 洗 衣 (xǐ yī, wash clothes), then the one that has the characters for 電 (diàn, electricity) and 開 (kāi, open or start), and hope for the best.

We got the television hooked up yesterday, so now it plays the digital cable that came free with our Internet service. Apparently, this free cable offers stuff like the Music Soundtrack Channel, for instance, instead of MTV. I’m fine with that–the reason I wanted a television is because it is a great way to improve my Mandarin comprehension and learn new words and fancier sentence structures. I don’t care if all our television channels are off-brand. Generations of immigrant children in the United States have picked up English from watching crappy shows on TV all day, and I intend to do the same here in Taipei with my Mandarin.

Another reason I’m thrilled to have a washer and TV is because all day long I have to listen to my neighbors’ spin cycles and talk shows. All. Day. Long. I have a neighbor who apparently only has time to do her laundry between the hours of midnight and 7AM. Now I can get back at all of them. All I need to do is find a whiny, screamy five-year-old, and complete and utter revenge will be mine.