Taiwan Day 1

Continued from Background/Prep.

If this is your first time reading my travel diary, please read the About page for my rules on leaving comments.

If you are waiting for my typical dosage of travel photos, I wouldn’t expect them until I reach India because Taiwan is more of a pit stop than part of my travel schedule. With that said, let’s get on with whatever I can scrap out of Taiwan.

Picked up at the curb by my sister to head to the airport. She took this photo and said that I looked like a kid going to his first day of school. I will be flying to Taiwan with my sister. I think of Taiwan as my Base Camp. I will spend a few days here to visit family, run some errands, get over my jet lag, get some last minute supplies, and fill myself up on food before moving onto serious traveling and sightseeing.

Upon arriving to the Austin airport, we headed to the self check-in counter. The computer couldn’t locate our tickets, which was fine because this has happened many times to me before for international travel. We waited at the counter, gave the agent our record locator, to which she replied that we had no tickets for our domestic flight….Err….WTF. She said that we had to call our international carrier EVA Air and have them figure out what the deal was. Sigh. This is not the first time I had to deal with this sort of screw up. To our urging, the agent tried different ways of looking for our tickets, and to our surprise, she was able to find them. She mentioned something about us having tickets but no reservations or seat assignments. Anyhow, we were finally able to get our tickets, but had to get our seats at the gate when they opened for boarding. We were just relieved that we can actually board the plane.

Sure feels a lot heavier than 36 pounds on my back.

It’s my tradition to always get The Salt Lick at the airport when I go on a trip. My loyal long term travel blog readers know this.

I think now they give you less food than before. It’s also really expensive for what you get. Eating this as a tradition means I rape my own wallet every time I travel.

Admirals Club. The open bar wasn’t the best part about the lounge. The best part was that the registration desk was able to give our seat assignments ahead of the gate opening. Score!

I had instructed at the Audi State Meet track event this morning. Two students plus my own driving meant that I had been in a car fighting G forces for close to 3 hours. I was physically exhausted when I boarded the flight and fell asleep before the plane even took off. When I came to, I looked outside and saw the lights of LA sprawling for miles beneath me. That may have been my fastest flight from Austin to LA.


I am outside walking towards the international terminal. To this day, I am still perplexed that the domestic terminal isn’t connected to the international terminal. Having to walk outside in the elements to transfer to an international or domestic flight just seems really odd at such a popular airport like the LAX.

Saw a big group of Japanese solider at LAX international. No idea why they were there, but I do know that they are Japanese due to the flag stitched to the back of their fatigues. My first thought was that the flags make great targets since they stood out so much.

Only $5,370! But wait, there’s more! It’s duty free!

Got into the Korean Air lounge at LAX with Priority Pass. I found it strange that their one beer of choice was Budweiser.

I admit, I like eating airplane food on international flights. This one is a chicken dish and I enjoyed the crap out of it.

For a while now I’ve wondered how loud it is in an airplane. I’ve always figured it be quite loud due to how loud I have to talk. Handy little App on the iPhone answered my question. Yup, it’s very loud aboard an aircraft. Do air stewardesses develop long term hearing problems?

Weird route to take from LA to Taipei. I’ve flown this route countless times, and we always fly in a parabolic route where we go up along the coast of Alaska and drop back down around Japan. That’s actually the shorter distance than a straight line due to the Earth being a globe instead of flat. I am not a pilot, but I am guessing that we are taking a more straight shot this time due to the jet stream that usually operates off of Northwestern US being stronger than usual.

Chicken congee for breakfast.

Less than beautiful photo showing a beautiful sunrise.

Starting our descent. The heavy clouds are not indicating nice weather down below.

It’s dark, cold, and pouring here. Still glad that I am done with this 14 hours long flight though. My ass is pretty numb.

What other way to show love to your love ones than to buy them gifts of sin and vice at the duty free shops. Heart clogging chocolates for my cousin and lung killing cigarettes for my uncle.

Dual disc brakes with full rear suspension wheel chairs. Not only that, the brake caliper are painted SPEED YELLOW!

Nothing got lost, good.

My sister decided to ship most of her luggage so that we wouldn’t have to carry it around on the train with us.

Before leaving the airport to head to my sister’s apartment, I had to visit the 7-Eleven in the airport. I am going to make this visit a tradition as well.

I visit the 7-Eleven to stock up on all of my childhood favorites.

This egg pudding is the BEST in the world.

How can you refuse shrimp flavored chips!?

These painted water buffalo reminded me of the painted cows in Austin.

Took a bus to connect from the airport to the High Speed Rail station.

More food at the HSR station, I won’t say no.

Weather still sucks outside.

Coffee and some sort of pork sandwich thingy.

Here comes the train.

Always nice, clean, and empty. Love it.

Taiwan is a pretty ungainly country. Weak zoning laws, regular hurricanes, and lack of care for aesthetics makes for a plethora of mismatched ugly grey buildings. I know this is my motherland and all, but ugly is ugly. I will say, I love the smell of Taiwan. It smells like my childhood.

Another uninspiring photo of a building taken through rain covered window of our cab. This building is special to me though. This is a hospital and yours truly was born in one of the rooms here.(correction. this is the newer building of the hospital. I was born in the older part of the hospital in another part of town.)

Arrive at my sister’s apartment to find that part of my backpack had been damaged. One of the plastic clips that manages the unused length of a tie down strap broke. I guess if something was to break from rough handling, this wasn’t too bad of a hit.

It’s about mid morning after we had unpacked our luggage in my sister’s apartment. We decided to go to the mall to eat some lunch and buy some items that she needs for her apartment.

Sister and her friend shown here. Driving in Taiwan is chaotic, but I thought my sister did a pretty fine job considering that she’s only driven on the streets of Taiwan a handful of times before this.

This is the best photo that I got all day. Helmet shaped umbrellas!!! Where do I buy one?

We drove to the mall, got stuck in traffic, couldn’t find parking, so decided to drive back, park, and call a cab instead. Doh.

The apartment lobby would be much nicer if they had a margarita machine.

Back at the mall(white building) via taxi.

First order of business is to put our name down to reserve a table for lunch at Din Tai Fung. This is a famous restaurant and our wait was easily over an hour and a half.

They make a lot of dumplings and you can see all the workers slaving away.

Cool. Michelin rated.

This is like watching the Krispy Kreme donut making machine, except with humans making dumplings as fast as humanly possible.

A snack while we wait for our table.

I wish we had these huge cream puffs in Austin. I would weight probably close to 300 pounds.

I laughed.

Interesting things I saw at the grocery store inside the mall.

It’s early afternoon, and my jet lag is killing me. More coffee might help a little.

Finally got our table.

I was impressed by this. A soy sauce dispenser that does not drip! The spout had the bottom cut away, and on the top portion of the spout there were these small channels cut into it. When the soy sauce poured out, it would follow the channels by surface tension, and when you tipped back, since there is no bottom to the spout, the sauce would just follow the channels on the top of the spout back into the container. Crappy explanation, I know, so just take my word for it that it works. There are better ways of doing things, and this is one of them.

Do we want to try any of these appetizers? No thanks, but I would gladly take a photo of it.

Meat dumplings.

Water spinach.

Dumpling filled with shrimp and squash.

Stir fried cabbage. This plate of cabbage is 8 times the price of any other plate of cabbage that you would find out on the streets of Taiwan. I thought it was just ok, but my sister is a huge fan of it.

Pork chop fried rice.

Vegetable dumplings.

Fish dumplings. First for me, very good.

Shrimp shumai. They looked like some sort of sea creature. No, not as in they look like a shrimp from the sea, but like a sea anemone.

Well, that was lunch. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I didn’t spend most of my energy just trying to stay awake.

After lunch we had to buy a towel and I saw these sample bedding. All I wanted to do was just lay down, fall asleep, and dream of a sunny afternoon in Paris.

Back to 7-Eleven. Taiwan Beer Gold it is.

I spent the rest of the day visiting with my cousin, watching Amelie with my sister and writing this blog. I had a discussion with my sister and cousin about tourism in Taiwan. My thought is that for anyone visiting Asia for the first time, Taiwan is not worth visiting. Taiwan just isn’t that fun or interesting, but I do think we have wonderful food that can hold its own other Asian countries. Therefore, naturally most of my photos from Taiwan will be food heavy.

To be continued at Taiwan Day 2.

6 thoughts on “Taiwan Day 1

  1. I didn’t read your “rules” for commenting…..so there!! I’m glad you made it safe and sound. Nice pictures, yayyy I can’t wait for you to have one from the Taj Mahal. wooo hooo Joy to the World! You are going to India. Oh, and bring me some Oral Fixation mints. Thanks, bye.

    • Sigh. You should have read the rules, because I had to do a slight edit to your comment. I am super excited about the one from the Taj Mahal. Taj Mahal will be honored to be in my photo.

  2. 1) I love your play by play- very entertaining

    2) I LOVE shrimp crackers (we Asians just have to sneak seafood into everything, don’t we?)

    3) been to Din Tai Fung three times since moving to Singapore; so delicious! I am addicted to spicy cucumbers- I order it at every chance I get. Hey, do you by chance have a recipe?

    4) be safe, have fun. I’m jealous. Peace out.

    • Thanks! I love shrimp chips! I didn’t get a chance to try to spicy cucumber, but I’ll remember to next time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.