We’ve spent two crazy whirlwind days in transit, even though the calendar says it’s three, but we are finally here in Taichung, Taiwan. It’s been a true journey of planes, trains, and automobiles (and even buses!).
We woke up on Thursday morning around 4 am in Greenville, and Steve’s parents drove us to the airport, and we hugged them goodbye and gave kisses to Stella, who let out one farewell bark when she saw us disappear into the airport. We will miss that dog like crazy! I already do. We had one short but uncomfortable flight to Dallas/Fort Worth, and then a four-hour layover where we walked around the airport. We happened upon the inaugural direct flight for American Airlines from Dallas/Fort Worth to Beijing, which featured a bunch of Chinese dancers (probably from the local Chinese school), several TV crews which were going around and asking passengers about why they were traveling to Beijing, and a buffet table of Chinese delicacies. I overheard a photographer grilling the man behind the table on exactly what soymilk tasted like, which made me smile. Continue reading The first forty-eight hours.→
Living in Taiwan, it can be oddly easy to forget that we are on an island, albeit one that is very large. In each city we have spent a bit of time in, we have never been far from the ocean. A map of Taiwan reveals about a ring of a dozen big cities which hugs the coastline. The middle of Taiwan is mountainous and features just two roads which cross from the east to the west coast. That being said, sometimes it’s easy to forget because we barely budge from our apartment in the middle of Kaohsiung, hemmed in by low-rise apartments and large boulevards and streets.
That all changed when we finally visited Cijin Island. Long one of the attractions of Kaohsiung, it will horrify most residents when they hear how long it took us to finally make our way to Cijin (about three weeks, all right?). Right off one end of the MRT’s Orange Line, at Xizihwan Station, one can take a five minute stroll to Gushan Ferry, and board the shortest ferry ride in the whole world (approximately 4 minutes sailing) and disembark 15NT the poorer on Cijin Island, a long spit immediately off the coast of the city. It actually used to be a peninsula, but was severed at the southern end to create a second port of entry for Kaohsiung, which is Taiwan’s second largest city and 9th largest port, as Steve has become fond of noting.
We’ve been in Tokyo for about 28 hours, give or take a few, and have had a number of exciting adventures and trials already. However, I’m really barely functioning given the amount of sleep I’ve had and the amount of jetlag that I’m dealing with.
Let’s try to detail some of what has happened so far. Lessons learned: Do fly Malaysian Airlines. They offer free wine and beer, which makes any flight, especially trans-pacific ones, go faster. Customs is much more casual here, as compared to China. Or even compared to our border crossing in Vancouver, Canada. Nevertheless, it took us an unexpectedly long time to reach our Couchsurfing host, Ken, by JR Railroad and Tokyo Metro, which are two of the rail networks here. We crashed last night, and this morning, got up with the sun, feeling remarkably fresh after 5 and 1/2 hours of sleep. We set off to Shibuya this morning, where we enjoyed breakfast at McDonald’s and internet at Starbucks, took some pictures of the famous Shibuya Scramble, and then set off on the road to investigate Tokyo.