Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Hostel

As with all military relocations, assignment to USTDC meant that you had to locate suitable living quarters for the duration of your tour. There was no on-base government housing, as is often available at stateside and other overseas installations.

Upon arrival, you usually registered at a nearby hotel and the government reimbursed those expenses for some period of time after your arrival, but you were expected to find suitable quarters as soon as possible. I don't recall the name of my hotel, but it was located right next to the Linkou Club Annex, just around the corner from the Headquarters Support Activity (HSA) compound. TDC was located at the far end of the HSA East Compound.

Most unaccompanied folks (single or those with families in the States) found an apartment somewhere, either by themselves or shared with others. Some, like me, moved into the Hostel that was located right next to the main gate of the HSA East Compound. It was a short walk to the office and was conveniently located close to most places I ever wanted or needed to go. This picture (courtesy of Les Duffin -- USTDC 1976-78) shows the main entrance. The HSA East Compound main entrance was just a few yards to the right of this building, past a walled-in area that was overgrown with weeds. I'll write more about that area some other time.

The Hostel was actually in two buildings, one behind the other. I lived in the second one, which is shown here (photo from this website). I had a single room on the second floor which I've circled in this photo. It had terrazzo floors throughout, a single bed, a stand-alone closet/storage area, a small living area and a private bathroom with shower. The rent was relatively cheap and it included utilities. There was a window air conditioning unit that kept the place nicely chilled during the summer.

I paid a houseboy to make the bed, keep the place clean and tidy, including keeping my shoes shined, and he did an outstanding job. I don't remember the cost but I think it was probably somewhere in the $20.00 per month range -- a real bargain. Laundry, as I recall, was extra and he charged by the piece. That too wasn't very much.

I bought a refrigerator, a radio, and a small television to use while I was there also. It wasn't luxury living, but it sure wasn't bad.

My best friend and next door neighbor, Air Force Sergeant Larry, not to be confused with my Navy buddy Larry, and I usually walked to work together. He worked upstairs in J-2 at TDC and I was downstairs in J-1. Larry eventually decided to move in with a couple of other guys at a roomy apartment some distance away. They invited me to come along, but after crunching all the numbers I realized that it would ultimately cost me quite a lot more than I was spending at the Hostel. Trying to support myself, and of course my family back in the States, left very little extra on a Tech Sergeant's pay.

The only real complaint I had about the Hostel was the aircraft noise. Not too far to the east was the commercial airport and the Hostel was located almost directly under the flight path of incoming airliners. Of course TDC and the entire HSA compound were under that same flight path, but it just seemed a lot worse at the Hostel when you were trying to read, watch television, or sleep. I sort of got used to it but never could completely tune it out. The absolute worst were the Cathay Pacific jets. Someone said they used a specific Rolls Royce engine that the other airlines didn't. I don't know about that, but I do know that they really screamed as they passed over the building! Unlike today, governments didn't worry too much about noise pollution back in the early 1970s.

The Hostel, like everything else in and around the HSA compound, is gone now. All buildings were demolished, the pavement torn up, and the area converted to a park. The Taipei Fine Arts Museum (left) is also located there. I understand that the entire area was bare for several years before they got around to building the museum and landscaping the park.

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