Locked in place by the current plague, I spend lots of time in a chair near a window that looks out onto the street. The street itself comes to a dead end about 75 meters from the house, so there is no through traffic, especially not large vehicles that have trouble turning about at the end of the block. But on a recent day I heard a mighty diesel engine roar, and beheld a behemoth laden with an empty dumpster going past. Some moments later, it returned, unladen, to other errands.
Apparently a recently vacated residence across the street is scheduled for remodeling, perhaps a new roof, in coming days. Daily dumpster rental fees in this town is not cheap, so I figure that the work will begin soon, but I’m just guessing. This use of dumpsters, the smaller of which can contain 10 cubic yards, the largest up to 30 cubic yards of construction debris is something I don’t remember seeing near construction sites in Taiwan.
In 1982 we rented a flat on a narrow lane off of Tze-Chiang Road in Kaohsiung’s Lin-ya District. It was our first home in Taiwan, and we stayed there until 1985. At least twice during those years, 5-floor buildings were put up along that lane. Each construction project was preceded by the removal of whatever had previously occupied the space. Each previous structure had been brick with a tile roof. Preparation for whatever was to come next required excavation for a foundation. The old building and the excavated soil were unceremoniously deposited in the lane, making passage from one end to the other impossible. Happily, this lane opened on streets at both ends, allowing people to get where they were going by circumnavigating the block.
In the 80s, cement mixer trucks, though common in Taipei and its environs, were not yet part of how things were done in Kaohsiung. A pile of sand, a dumptruck load of bricks and a pallet of portland cement in bags got things started. These were renewed as needed. Cement mixers were rolled in. Wheelbarrows appeared and scaffolds with a winch were erected to get materials up to where they were used. Mixing began and buildings sprouted upwards. The lane remained partially or fully blocked throughout construction.
Things are wider here. The dumpster will eliminate the sight of broken or discarded bits of the house to be remodeled and its placement back near the garage will obviate our need to go around it. That is an advantage. What we’ll have lost, though, is the experience of watching what goes on.
So much of life in Taiwan then, and even now, is right out where it can be seen. There’s much more to talk about there.
David Alexander now resides in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.