Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Taiwan Journey Home

Well, after one day of flying and 4 days in Taiwan it was time to go home. We stopped at the hotel's breakfast buffet one last time and had a light breakfast of fruit and croissants. And then off to the airport we go. Since this was an international flight that passed through two countries, we had to go through security in Taiwan, Japan, and again in Chicago. In a nutshell, Taiwan let me wear my shoes through the screener and I didn't have to take out my laptop. Japan made me take out my laptop, but I still could wear my shoes. Chicago had me take off my shoes and take out my laptop.

In the end, I could have had a couple bottles of liquid explosives in my cargo pants and not one of the airports would have known. Then again, I am not a terrorist although the TSA likes to screen me as one, especially when I am traveling with small kids. In Chicago, the mother and her infant daughter in front of us in line were pulled for screening. Chicago also had the announcements of being at "condition orange" or whatever fancy color they have. Seriously, the get rid of that stupid announcement. What, when the color is yellow or green we don't have to report suspicious activity, but when the color is red or orange we do? Give me a break, your dealing with adults here and in most International airports in the US 75% of the foreign travelers don't have a clue what the color code is, and 99% of the travelers don't pay attention anyway.

The flight to Japan was relatively uneventful. We had a great meal on the plan (Japan Airlines, not American). In the Tokyo airport we had a 4 hour layover. I spent the first hour wandering the airport while my wife slept. I still had 8,000 Yen to spend. I collect coins and bills so spending the large bills helped to break it down into smaller, collectible amounts. Then I came back and woke my wife up so that we could go shopping. Primarily we could candies and treats for the family. Afterwards, we got a bite to eat at one of the cafe's. I have always wondered about the shops that you find in airports. For instance, a Mont Blanc pen shop. Who would buy a $200 pen at the airport? At the electronics shops in Tokyo airport there were video cameras identical to the one that we had, only for twice as much as we paid, and that is after taking into account the 30% discount the store was offering.

We boarded our plane to Chicago, another 777. My wife and I began with our meal and watching "The Tooth Fairy". I like the Rock in non-serious movies. Perhaps it is the dumb jock personna just doesn't come work in serious dramas (or I just don't like serious dramas). Shortly after the movie finished, I closed my eyes for a few minutes, and woke up 6 1/2 hours later. I had just slept longer in an uncomfortable airplane seat than I had in the uncomfortable hotel bed in Taiwan. The flight landed with no incident and we sailed through customs without being shaken down (I didn't even declare the $10,000 cash I had on me - ok, so it was $10,000 Taiwan which is about $350 American).

A short delay for our plane home and we arrived safely. All of our bags made it and none of the gifts were destroyed. I was most worried about the paintings and calligraphy, but my masterful packing had preserved them. I can't wait to go again (although if I can avoid the back to back 10,000 calorie days I'll be happy).

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