Friday, June 19, 2009
Here I am in Taiwan once again! This time in Neihu District (as opposed to Danshui, which if you recall is along the ocean and less connected to Metro Taipei), I am preparing for many an adventure. I'll give you the summary of my tales thus far!!! Bwahahaha!!!!!!
I'm going to try to do this by date, however this is somewhat impossible and contrived because of the enormous time zone gap that magically switches. Why don't we all just have one uniform Time Zone??? Instead of going to bed at 12 am, it would be the same time, but just called 1 pm, for instance. It wouldn't be that hard to adapt to. Daylight would be the same... Anyway, I digress.
I got to the airport in Minneapolis, young and naive, believing full well that NWA (That's Northwest Airlines, not the rap band N***** With Attidude) meant me no ill will and was responsibly checking over the plane and making final preparations. Oh how wrong and foolish I was...
I arrived at the gate with my family about 1ish pm or somewhere thereabouts I suspect. I did my best to check in efficiently, and as international flight lines go, it went pretty quickly and smoothly. I always feel unprepared and awkward as i do the security check. Luckily I didn't hold up the line or anything like I once did in Singapore. I waved goodbye to Mom, Dad, and Tim once more as I crossed the threshold into boundless adventure and a growing sense of uncertainty.
I waited patiently, careful not to eat or drink too much lest I spoil my appetite for the airline food (LOL). Finally it was time to board! Surely I would soon be taking off on my brief 12 hour flight to Tokyo! Sadly, no, this was not the case. When I finally got on the plane, it became very clear after a few hours that we would simply not be taking off. The captain seemed to be looking for any excuse... The plane may be overweight... There was a volcano exploding in Alaska so we had to change our course and file new paperwork... The crew was going to be working too long if we took off more than 2 hours late... and of course, the REAL reason we were initially delayed was engine failure. But the engine was promptly repaired in about 30 minutes, so the rest of the excuses were mere "cake icing", as it were.
Well, we got off the plane after a while, disillusioned about NWA once and for all, and began to wait in a ridiculously unorganized... circle of some sort... for them to call our names and give us our meal vouchers. It didn't occur to them for about 2 and a half hours to use the microphone for this. They just tried to shout it out over the crowd of 300 people. They also printed off one letter at a time, and reread names from C, most memorably, for about an hour and a half before they were able to move on. The inefficiency blistered my soul.
Luckily it was during this time that these two Asian high school girls attached themselves to me when they noticed I was not afraid nor ashamed to ask questions and make demands. At least I had someone to talk to during this offensively long wait. When we all got our vouchers, we proceeded to use the meal money to buy sushi, McDonald's, and smoothies. We then waited another goshdarn freaking hour for the shuttle to pick us up and take us to our hotel.
Holiday Inn was nice. I watched a couple episodes of Family Guy with the girls and finished our cold chicken nuggets and then I headed to my room to go to bed. The flight for tomorrow was scheduled for 8 am, so i needed to be up at 5:30 and at the airport by 6:30.
Well flash forward past the 40 minute security check line and we're in waiting for our flight (again). Well, we board the plane shortly thereafter and it becomes painfully clear after about 2 hours on the plane that we're not going to be leaving on time. The plane was scheduled to be in the air by 8 am. We boarded at 7:30 and we didn't take off until almost 10 am. This was because they were doing a last minute check of our weight and filing some paperwork (which I assumed they had finished the day before when the captain spent 10 minutes talking about it).
Finally in the air, I have to admit the flight went pretty smoothly, and the food was passable, despite being subjected to Hotel For Dogs and He's Just Not That Into You. And something else that was stupid. The flight attendants handed out what may have been the best apology I've ever received: A $250 travel voucher that will pay for a roundtrip ticket to multiple cities in Asia. So I may be able to go on a budget vacation after all, which is nice.
I also made some friends on the flight over. I sat next to a girl from Shanghai who was my age. She's an art school student (graduate school) and I also met a guy who lives in Taiwan and is teaching for the same school system I am (Hess). He told me lots of great things about his experience and prepared me for a lot of things. I know now more about how the loans work and what to expect from training and possible advancement. The three of us made the trip downright enjoyable for each other, actually. I had a great time talking with them. Ron and I joked quite a lot about the volcano.
Well, we landed and were only like an hour and a half late so I suppose we made good time. In Tokyo, things seemed at first to be going smoothly. The security check was a long long line but we whittled through it efficiently in only about 10 minutes, which was fantastic. However, then we got into another 2 hour line waiting for our connecting flights to be rerouted. They literally printed out everyone's boarding passes as we walked up to them. Unfortunately I was at the tail end of this line.
Once that was through Ron and I proceeded to our terminal and bid adieu to Lulu, our friend from Shanghai. Then we bought snacks from the airport with our voucher money and played the waiting game. I managed to connect to the internet to shoot an e-mail out to some people who were wondering where I was.
When I got on the plane I immediately fell asleep and I woke up as we were landing. I had a whole row of seats to myself. I couldn't have asked for a better flight experience. That's really all I have to say about that.
It was so great to finally see April in Taiwan, and I was worried things might've changed after being a year apart but we picked up exactly where we left off. Before long I realized neither of us had changed one bit, so much so that it was actually an amusing realization for both of us. She then took me to my room and I unpacked while she went to her room and grabbed some stuff and some snacks to give me while I showered. Her mom cooked me dumplings and veggies! We then turned on the TV and I watched... SUPERNATURAL! Could it get any better? I submit that it cannot.
Well after a night of not sleeping so well(jet lag, but the bed is great), I called April in the morning and she gave me a tour of the neighborhood. We have everything. A KFC, a McDonald's, a 7-11, a Family Mart, and a Carrefour is a very short trip from us as well. Not to mention the brand new MRT opens in two weeks, and is only a block from us! We even have a small night market from which April just bought me an amazing food called a Chinese Hamburger. I foolishly forgot to take a picture but I'm sure I'll be having it again.
We went to that Carrefour (HUGE grocery/department store) place I mentioned where I bought some supplies, such as fruit, bread, detergent, kleenex and toilet paper, a fan, etc. The fan is really quite nice, but it's difficult to function in here without the AC going every now and then. I turn it off whenever I go out or every once in a while just to let the fan circulate the cool air by itself, but when I sleep I need the AC. The humidity without it is remarkable.
Later on that day I took a brief nap, and then we tried to watch a movie only to realize we couldn't find my DVD player's remote and therefore couldn't switch the subtitles to English. We went for a short evening walk as well. Forgive me, I'm missing some details. Jetlag is kind of making the details run together.
The highlight of the day was KFC for lunch, I suppose. April went to work so I wandered around myself and almost got lost. I contacted several of my other friends and made some plans for the weekend, did a little Wii Fit exercise and tried to straighten the room up a bit more. The hangers we bought at Carrefour turned out to be a wise investment for this closet, which only had one hanger.
At about 8 at night I thought I was tired enough to just go to bed. I slept until 12 am and realized how wrong I was only then. I was up another 4 hours talking to Tim and playing my DS, just waiting to get tired. I then slept from 4-8, so technically we're now into...
Today was a good day. April and I went out, got some breakfast, delivered Mandy's fresh lunch to her school, went for a walk, and watched a movie (License To Wed). After a while April had to leave for work, and I fell asleep around 3:30 and woke up around 9. Yessir, jetlag isn't going away so far. I thought going outside during the day would help my body adjust but I haven't noticed any changes. I think when I'm comfortable enough to be out more on my own, I'll get over the jet lag pretty quickly. Until then I'll just do my best.
One thing kind of irking me is that my neighbor doesn't know the hallway bathroom is only my bathroom and has let himself and his girlfriend take showers there right when I need to poop. April was infuriated by this news and plans to let the landlord know so she can put a sign on the bathroom door. I suppose I could just lock the bathroom but I don't want them wondering why they can't get in, I want them to know they should just use their own private bathroom.
I suppose I should clarify. I also have a bathroom in my own room, but the toilet there is basically a urinal and isn't meant for Twosies (hence the amusing "Only Urinate, No Defecate" sign). This is fine, because I was told that the bathroom just outside my room in the locked off hallway is only mine.
Well, tomorrow I meet my friend KJ, which should be a lot of fun. I haven't seen him in a long time. He's home from his military service for the weekend and so we get a chance to hang out. On Sunday I will try to meet some other people, and on Monday I will go to Transformer 2 with Ape. I'd like to include a nickname key for April below in closing.
April/Lin Ping Ting AKA:
Lin Ping Guo (Ping Guo means Apple in Chinese, conveniently)