Saturday, June 11, 2005


Shirley and I arrived in Taiwan last night (everything is going to be in local time while I'm posting from Asia). It's the first time I've been back to Taiwan since our family left back in 1977, over 28 years ago.

Both of us ended up on the same flight over from LAX although we were originally scheduled to arrive on different flights. I was supposed to fly over on Singapore Airlines but our company's travel department didn't actually issue the tickets so my reservation got cancelled. When they tried to put me back on the same flight, I was waitlisted. Eventually I had to change my schedule and take EVA Air instead, which departs/arrives seven hours earlier. For Shirley, she was originally supposed to fly on Japan Airlines but when we arrived at LAX, they asked her if she was willing to give up her seat since they oversold her flight. Long story short, she ended up on the same EVA Air flight as me but in coach while I had the business class seat from work.

The flight was about 13.5 hours but it seemed like it took forever... I don't think I got more than 10 minutes of sleep during the entire flight. I ended up watching a Chinese/Korean movie ("Seoul Raiders") twice and part of "Be Cool" twice (not very good). EVA Air's "Super Business Class" wasn't too super at all. The seats were really bad: they don't recline more than 40 degrees back and the footrest didn't come up very high. I was either sliding down on the seat or my foot was jammed on the footrest. I think Singapore Airline's business class chairs fold down almost flat; if so, I'm going to be really upset with our company's travel department. My seat was upstairs on a Boeing 747 and for some reason, the noise (either wind or engine) was really loud. When I went downstairs to find Shirley, the main cabin was a lot quieter. The food was not too bad although I kept telling the flight attendants that I can't understand their Chinese well and to speak English if they can. Also, since it's EVA Air, every announcement over the intercom had to be repeated in three languages: Mandarin, English, then Taiwanese.

The flight arrival was delayed by about 45 minutes and when we got to the immigration counter, there were very few people in line. I think most of the people on the flight were Taiwan citizens since the non-citizen windows were not very busy. The immigration official looked at my brand new Canadian passport, asked me a few questions in Mandarin (I wonder if they speak English), and let me through. Shirley's dad, 5th uncle, and uncle's son's family came to pick us up. The first thing I noticed was the humidity. Shirley has been taunting me about the hot weather in Asia for months but after standing in the parking lot for 5 minutes, I was soaked with sweat. I think it was 85 degrees but with 80% humidity, something we never have in LA. We then visited the 5th uncle's house for a bit and then dropped off at a hotel nearby (Highness Hotel Linkou). Shirley's sister showed up this morning (she was on the Singapore Airlines flight I was originally booked on) and now we're waiting for Shirley's dad to pick us up and go to Taipei.

View outside our 15th floor hotel room in Linkou

First impressions after 28 years? It's really hot and humid here. Also, Linkou (not too far from Taoyuan/Airport) is kind of rural suburban. Things just seem to be older and kind of run-down as compared with LA. However, the cars were all pretty new (lots of Japanese cars) and even though 5th uncle's house seem spartan (no carpet and refridgerator in the living/dining room), the TV and stereo were very nice. Even our hotel room with it's two prong outlets had a Internet port (which I'm using now) and the TV had about 100 channels. It's a curious mixture of old buildings with high tech (cell phones, broadband Internet, cable/satellite TV). We'll see later today if Taipei is different and if I remember anything at all after 28 years.

BTW, there seems to be a 7-Eleven on each corner. Haven't seen any Starbucks yet.

No comments: