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Hong Kong Taiwan Taoyuan Airport

29 March 2011

Taiwan, eventually I got here

The flight to Taipei was very short, on a Boeing 777. The seats were huge in economy.
The entire east coast of Taiwan seems to be continuous city, the weather was clear, visibility good and all I could see was street lights.
Arriving at the airport is like a 3rd world country. They are building a new terminal but the situation currently is terrible.

Now for more news on Japan, they had a radiation screening point, flights from Japan were arriving the same time as me, and one guy set off the detector!
I was pretty excited at this.

Customs was laboriously slow, only 10 people in front of me in line but all got the third degree.
Then I get to the front of the line and my things get stamped without even a pause, Australian passports are very valuable! Hence the reason mossad steals them to use in assasinations on arabs.

Now the real fun begins. No one speaks English. There will be no English, There will be no signs in English for the busses. There is no train to the city (its being built currently, like the airport). There will be no credit card facilities. There will be no ATM for cash withdrawal.

Heres what I did, took out my blackberry with Google maps showing where my hotel is, took out my Mastercard, walked up and down the bus company things waving both, after all the other customers left.
Eventually Someone could help me pay the 4 Austrlaian dollar fair with mastercard (their machines look like nothing I ever saw before!). I agreed to go to the Taiwan central train station and figure it out from there, no bus goes to my hotel, or no one can read google maps on my blackberry.

Now to find my bus, its a construction zone remember, I had to climb over piles of bricks with my suitcase and show my ticket to every waiting bus until someone let me on.

I got a satellite fix and followed my progress on GPS, I already had a stickpin on the map for the station I set before I left Australia, and once we got near that, I got off.
The trip takes an hour and its sort of scary in the dark, the entire way is a construction site, they are building an elevated fast train above the road, and it also goes mainly through industrial areas and oil refineries. I was quite worried this all Taiwan was going to be.

The bus windows were also heavily tinted, so I couldnt really see much at all.

Once I got off the bus, I found a station entrance, again its like a third world station, but with some modern facilities that seem added in recently.

I found an ATM and took out cash, then found a machine to buy an RFID train card thing, then added cash to it, then found my train line (color coded, no english!) then got on my train, it was only 2 stops.

The walk from the train to the hotel was about 30 minutes and fascinating, lots of neon, lots of strange footpaths, it seems each shop makes their own footpath so they dont line up and are made of different colored tiles.
Everyone rides a scooter, some footpaths have speedbumps as people ride their scooters along them to dodge traffic.
All the shops seem modern, but the streets seem...interesting.

I eventually located my hotel, with a lot of GPS aiding, I am staying in downtown Taipei, not in the middle of nowhere, but getting here was quite an adventure!
My hotel room is very nice, $60 a night gets you a great room with marble, a spa, a couch, and lots of English tv channels (HBO even).
The internet in my room is super fast, and its wired and wireless, so I can mess about with my Android tablet.

I didnt have time to take many photos, would have loved to on the walk here but had my hands full, Im excited to wake up tomorrow and explore.

Hong Kong-Taiwan-Taoyuan-Airport - The antiquated airport.

The antiquated airport.

Hong Kong-Taiwan-Taoyuan-Airport - Out the front of my hotel, looking down the street..

Out the front of my hotel, looking down the street..

Hong Kong-Taiwan-Taoyuan-Airport - ..and looking the other way. Lots more photos of Taipei tomorrow I promise!

..and looking the other way. Lots more photos of Taipei tomorrow I promise!

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