A Return to Urban Density
My last city of residence, Warsaw, Poland’s capital, is home to 1.7 million people– tiny compared to New York City, my home of 25 years, and her 8.2 million inhabitants–and my new city, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
Kaohsiung boasts a populace of 2.8 million, and given my downtown location, it represents a return to true urban living. My Saska Kepa neighborhood in Warsaw was almost bucolic, with apple, pear, plum, cherry, walnut, hazelnut, apricots and grapes growing profusely.
For the first time in my life, here in Kaohsiung, I’m living in a high rise building (on the 13th floor, no less.) Thirteen, by the way, is not an unlucky number as it is in America. I was told that four is an unlucky number in Chinese, because it sounds like the word for death.
Save for a scattering of photographs, we took our Kaohsiung apartment sight unseen, as we were two continents away and without time to view real estate once I was to arrive here. We giggled when we put together our apartment wish list:
- maximum outdoor space
- lots of light
- dog friendly
- ocean view
The last criteria was my husband’s idea, and while we can’t see the Taiwan Straits from our apartment, we do have a lovely view of Lotus Lake and the Dragon and Tiger Temples from our front balcony. (Props. to Lech for even hinting at a water view.) That’s what I love about the power of two: The ability to think beyond the narrow scope of just one set of eyes.
As far as outdoor space, we ended up with two balconies. Two balconies feels like a 40 acre tract compared to my beloved but postage stamp sized, 2nd floor outdoor perch in our Warsaw home. Unlike there, where two is a crowd, in Kaohsiung, our balcony runs the length of the apartment. My number one goal is to get it habitable. Urban or not, I’m going to aim for a subtropical paradise at #13F. I’m just itching to buy outdoor furniture and plants. But first, I’m watching what the locals do.
Part of the beauty of dense urban living is the snapshots one gleans of neighboring patios and balconies. My new colleague Dawn told me that Taiwanese, particularly the older generation (which I suppose includes me these days) loves their plants. Dawn got a dreamy look in her eyes and her voice changed when she mentioned Kaohsiung’s weekend plant and flower market.
I’m not sure I can wait a full seven days to get there. And where is my husband when I need him to haul my flora?
What are your thoughts on dense urban living? Urban gardening?