Taipei. Day One.
"I find the only way to keep cool is to walk with your mouth open," Tina says to me, "Like a dog."
We wade slowly through the city's heat. Every breath of thick air is work. Wetness persists in places where I have never sweat before, like where my leg meets my butt. Tina, my first and most fabulous Taiwanese friend, assures me that I will get used to it.
My prospective landlady had said that the apartment is 15 minutes from my university. But a walk to the address reveals that it is actually 45 minutes. When I get there, there is no elevator. And six flights of stairs.
The owner of the apartment is cute. She is middle-aged and likes to giggle. We both sit on the bed in the bachelor unit for a moment, panting from the climb. Sweat is running down either side of her face and pooling under her chin.
Six flights of stairs. At least twice a day. In punishing heat. No way.