Misconnected: Taiwan, Days 1, 2, and 3

So my job sent me to Taiwan for around two weeks. OK, sure, just let me book my flight, plan my stuff and let’s go. First, no straight flight from the closest airport to where I live, so I try to keep the connections to a minimum. Second, it’s my first time flying alone. Third, I don’t own a cell phone.

Day one

So, my departure is at 8:00 a.m. and I need to be there three hours in advance as per the airport “rules.” This means 5 a.m. and I live at at least an hour from the airport, so I rented an hotel room close by. Less hassle, and family members can drop me off.  I didn’t sleep very well (air conditioning– and stress!), but that wasn’t too bad. I didn’t have any problem going through security and customs (I live in Canada and I was transiting through the USA first). I decided to take the breakfast at the airport: bacon, egg, and cheese bagel, plus drink. Was tasty and it looked like a popular place to eat.

Once in the plane, we had a minor delay because of a maintenance problem. The delay was only 20 minutes; manageable. I had two and a half hours before my next connection. After an hour of flight, that’s when the problems started. We couldn’t land in Chicago! So we landed in Detroit. At the start they tried to “fix” the plane, but that didn’t work, they “reconnected” the people they could reconnect in Detroit, but for the rest of us it was off to Chicago and go see Customer Services. So I would be at least a day late to Taiwan now, and I was crossing my fingers for my checked baggage. Technically, I was put on the exact same flights, but for the next day and my baggage was “reconnected” as well.

At least, United Airlines gave me an hotel and meal voucher. I will have to check with my travel insurance for the rest of my expenses later as well. Lots of stress. I ate sushi at the airport (Wicker Park stand), but the Internet at the hotel wasn’t free. Are all American hotels like that? It was the first time I have to pay for it at an hotel.

Now, I was just missing fresh clothes for tomorrow. Toothbrush and toothpaste are always in my cabin bag and I planned to buy an international cell phone at the airport.

Days two & three

I woke up early at 6:30 a.m. and decided to go to the airport and take my breakfast (which ended up as a egg, bacon, cheese focaccia. I just love egg, bacon and cheese).  I didn’t buy an international cell phone, they don’t work in Japan and that’s the only place where I would have needed one.  So, the first plane was on time. A 13 hour trip with two lunches and one snack.  I couldn’t sleep and my back hurt a lot. I’m really happy I brought my ebook reader with me, though. I finished two books in that flight. The meals were OK, I didn’t expect grand cuisine either. We touched down on Tokyo, Narita on time, I had no problem finding my next flight gate and I moved over there. Everything was typically Japanese, aka clean, clean, clean… smiling, smiling, smiling.

I tried to sleep a bit in the second flight, didn’t really work, but at least I was still capable of standing once we arrived at Taoyuan International Airport. They have a cool fever checking system as well in the airport (you just walk through it) and the customs people were nice folks – I talked about weight loss, my agent was a woman and my passport has a picture from a few years ago… I’ve lost 30 pounds since then.  I found my baggage (yeah, it didn’t get lost!) and left the airport. I had a transport reserved by the hotel that was waiting for me and the trip was a short one.  My hotel was really nice, it actually had a bigger room (including bathroom) than the one in Chicago and it had free Internet. They also have lots of weird things at breakfast like boiled fish and miso soup. They also have more common American breakfast stuff (bacon & eggs!).

Finally,  the Taiwanese have awesome cars and there is a lot of trees and plants everywhere. Now it’s time to get to work…

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