Thursday, April 15, 2010

Trip to Taiwan

On Tuesday night my wife and I found ourselves staying up all night to get ready for our trip the next day. We wanted to shock our systems into sleeping on Taiwan time, before we arrived. Round about 1am, I actually packed the bags (our flight was at 8am). Since it was an international flight to Asia, we could each take two bags free. As such, I had told my friend in Taiwan to let us know what all she wanted. The bags were chock full of presents and other items for her. I did read the customs rules in Taiwan to make sure that I wasn't bringing in anything illegal (after all, it wouldn't look good for a Mormon to be arrested at the Taiwan airport for bringing in too much alcohol).

I tried to order our high speed rail tickets in Taiwan, but the credit card kept on getting declined. I was about to give up and call my friend over there, when I decided to call the card company and tell them that we would be traveling to Japan and Taiwan. Sure enough, after getting off the phone with them, the sale went through. We were able to get a couple hours sleep before our flight.

As usual, the TSA airport security was a joke. But they figured we weren't terrorists and since we could have two checked bags for free, I didn't have to attempt to use any super secret methods (i.e. cargo pants pocket) to get prohibited items (i.e. 4 ounce bottle of lotion) on board. They didn't have the new millimeter scanners at our local airport or at Chicago.

The plane ride from Chicago was on a 777. I had flown these over to England several times when I worked in a previous job, and so I loved the personal entertainment system. This one had about a dozen movies (which started every half hour or so you didn't have to wait 2 hours to watch a movie from the beginning) and another dozen TV shows. The games were expanded to 15 (when I had flown the 777 before it was only 6) but the response time of the controller was still mind numbingly slow, I really want them to boost their system so that I can play something like Halo on international flights. One disappointment was that there were no power outlets in economy class (some airlines have them), so that meant that our personal entertainment would only last as long as the battery life of the DVD player and the laptop - about 4 hours combined.

So my wife and I started off with a movie "The Proposal" starring Sandra Bullock and Dane Cook. I like Sandra, Jesse James should be shot for cheating on her. The editing on planes sure has declined as the scene where Sandra and Dane are completely naked (with some well placed hands) was included. Yes, Sandra is almost as good looking as my wife. The movie was a humorous romantic comedy and it killed a couple of hours. The most annoying thing though was being interrupted by the various flight announcements. I really wish they would let whoever was flying on a plane for the first time (or wanted a refresher of the safety briefing) to sit up front, and then leave the rest of us alone.

Lunch (or dinner) arrived and I remembered the other reason why I like international flights - they actually feed you! Salad, roast beef, roll, sushi, etc. The tray was full and definitely filled me up. After switching between some things and trying to sleep some (I had only had two hours of sleep in the last 36 hours) I finally settled on another movie "Did you hear about the Morgans?" starring Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker. I don't really care for either one of them, but the movie was halfway descent for another romantic comedy.

Then my wife and I listened to a book by John Stossel on how everything we know is wrong. That lasted until the battery on the DVD player ran out, about two hours. We got a turkey and cheese sandwich for our next meal when we were over the Bering Sea.

I finally decided to go for another movie and watched "Avatar." Not even making it past the first half hour, I can say it is probably one of the dumbest movies that I have ever not watched completely. I was bored out of my eyes and finally turned it off and got an hour or so of sleep.

In Tokyo (never been there before), the first thing I noticed is that the EXIT signs were green. Turned out they were green in Taiwan as well. I found an ATM machine and pulled out 10,000 yen. The card worked. Then looking through the shops, I found what I thought was apple juice. I was correct, although it was probably made from a different kind of apple than what we turn into apple juice in the USA.

For the final leg of our journey, we boarded a Japan Airlines flight. The flight attendants were all 20 something and beautiful. Turns out, in Asia, flight attendants are the de facto sex symbol (as my friend described it, sort of like the UPS men in the US). As such, they are all 20 something, all beautiful, and most of them speak 2 or 3 or more languages.

Another great airline meal, pork cutlets with Miso sauce, shrimp tempura, salad, apple jello. Of course the entertainment selection was lacking (but I really just wanted to sleep at this point although was unable to). I have noticed this on other foreign airlines I have flown (Lufthansa and India Air). Maybe us Americans are just picky about being entertained.

Finally, we arrived in Taiwan. No problem with customs, all of our luggage made it. And the wedding gifts didn't get broken (basically about half of our luggage was wedding gifts). One snag though. When I tried to use the ATM machine at the airport, it didn't give me any money. I'll have to call the bank again (it worked in Tokyo). Our hotel room is nice, on the 59th floor. After a shower, my wife laid down and probably got three hours of sleep or more (she just woke up). Me on the other hand, I tossed for about two hours and got up to blog. So I am running on maybe 5 hours of sleep in the last 60 hours. I probably won't have a chance again until tonight. Jet lag is SOOOOOO much fun!

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