Monday, May 15, 2006

Taiwan, Part I

It's our third night in Taiwan and I finally got a broadband Internet connection. We're currently staying at the Plaza International Hotel in Taichung and it's the first day of our 5-day tour of Taiwan. I'm still a bit jetlagged so I'm trying to stay awake for a couple more hours. There are only 8 people on the tour: my parents and me, and another family from the U.S.

We left LAX Friday morning (Pacific Time) and the lines were pretty long, both at Singapore Airlines and at the baggage scanner. While we were lined up for take off, I noticed that our flight was behind a EVA Air 747 to Taipei, and a China Airlines 747 to Taipei as well. Our 777-200 was pretty full so there must be a lot of traffic from LAX to TPE.

Arrival board at TPE. There seems to be a lot of flights from California.

After being picked up by a couple of my dad's old classmates from military college, we drove an apartment near Youth Park (SW Taipei); it belongs to one of their friends in Canada who lives in Taipei only 6-months each year. I had trouble sleeping for the first couple of nights, probably a combination of jetlag, an incredibly hard mattress, and noise. The area around Youth Park is like every neighborhood in Taipei. People either live in large apartment complexes or in shorter buildings along the street, typically with a business on the ground floor. There is a small night market around the corner and a million 7-Elevens.

View from our 10th floor apartment

My room with the incredibly hard mattress/bed. Good thing there's an air conditioner.

Mmm... street vendors!

On Saturday, we were invited to a Mother's Day buffet lunch at a hotel near Taipei 101 and on Sunday, one of my mom's relatives and her family visited then we went to my dad's friend's house for dinner. Interestingly, while we were walking around the neighborhood and checking out the night market, some guy stopped my dad. It turned out that he was in the same class as my dad but graduated 2 years earlier. They probably have not seen or heard of each other for 45 years yet the guy recognized my dad. I don't remember people from UCLA and that's only 15 years ago.

Obligatory picture of Taipei 101

This morning (Monday), the tour bus picked us up at a hotel near the main train station and took us (and the other family) to Sun Moon Lake. It appears that it's a popular honeymoon location. It turned out my parents, the old couple in the other group, and the tour guide all had their honeymoon there. Maybe I should have gone there instead of Europe. :) It was foggy and occasionally rainy due to a typhoon to the south of Taiwan. The tour guide took us to several temples and a couple tourist traps where we could buy stuff.

Lunch at some cultural center. Our reservation was around 1:30pm and we were the only table of people in the room. It made it kind of awkward when the aboriginal dancers asked for volunteers to join them on stage.

Sun Moon Lake

I think this is a hotel for teachers. My parents stayed here on their honeymoon.

Dinner for three: NT$190 (~US$6)

Arg, the ADSL connection at the hotel is flaky. I'll upload more pictures later. I must have bad luck at hotels. I usually get a smoking room and end up having to switch rooms. I already switched from a smoking floor to non-smoking floor but this room smells of smoke too. Sigh...


closetmusician said...

dude, did i mention it already? you have to go to din tai fung! tha'ts like the besssst place ever in taipei. crazy good shiao long bao. oh man, just thinking about it makes my mouth water now...

nice pics, eat lots for me!

ocgal22 said...
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ocgal22 said...

I agree with closetmusician - din tai fung is awesome (there's one in rosemead or arcadia or somewhere in the LA area and there are a few here in Singapore). There are a few in Taipei - go to the original one if you can. There's ALWAYS a line (even at 3pm in the afternoon) so give the lady at the entrance your party size and she'll give you a number and you just wait for your number to be called . . . dang, the thought of that place is making me hungry . . .