Saturday, 12 April 2014

Taiwan - an unusual destination for a holiday. Chapter 1 - The Journey.


 The telephone rings, it's Christine from Sydney.  This was in August last year.

"Do you want to go to Taiwan?", she says. "I have found a Nexus tour on Living Social (one of the discount websites) 9 days for $1799.  Includes airfares, accommodation, bus tours, entry fees, tips.  Would you like to go?"

Taiwan ?????????

At that time, no plans to sell the house and move.  Christine was booked for a Mediterranean Cruise with her husband in November.  They had no plans to retire and move out of Sydney, we were both just drifting along.  Pretty impulsive am I, so I said "why  not?  Book me in."

At the time I am thinking, where is Taiwan, what's in Taiwan.  I had a vague idea it was an island off China that China thinks is theirs -there is occasional political argy bargy between China and America over Taiwan.  It is an independent country, with their own currency and government.  It was originally settled by Chinese from mainland China who came to farm.  After the second world war when the manufacturing revolution hit Asia, everything we purchased was made in Taiwan - did that make me any more knowledgeable about where it was, who lived there, or why you would visit?

I think that is why it appealed to me adventuring into the unknown.

Christine completing her destination card at Sydney Airport.  Don't say anything, but it took her three tries to get it right.

One of the things I hate about flying is the arrival and departure forms you have to complete.  Overseas flights leave Australia late evening, normally from 10pm onwards.  The airlines make sure you are fed and watered, we have a lovely glass of red to help us sleep and the dinner things are cleared away.  They then give you the arrival card for your country of destination.  Immediately, nine times of out ten, they turn out the lights in the cabin.  They are tucking us all in.  You then have to dig around for your passport to get your passport number, find your boarding pass for the flight number, find a pen to complete the many questions where the print is so small you struggle to find some light to complete it.

The joys of flying.  My biggest annoyance is men never carry pens and they ask if they can use yours.  Really, you are travelling overseas and you don't carry a pen.  Unbelievable!

This is our flight path, Sydney to Guangzhou airport in China.

Guangzhou airport at 4am in the morning is freezing, it is like a giant warehouse.  Nowhere to get warm.  There were a couple of cafes open, the first one it was $A15 for a cup of coffee.  Initially we said no too expensive.  We wandered around for a couple of hours  found another cafe and being desperate by then, the coffee here was only $A10 per cup.  So here is Christine trying to warm her hands on the coffee we paid $A20.00 for.

About three hours later, another cafe opened up, it is about 9am by this time and the cafe was offering this lovely Wonton soup with a glass of red wine for less than the price of our cups of coffee.  9am in the morning and we are eating beautiful soup and drinking red wine.  Boozers!

The two hour flight from Ghuanzhou to Teipai in Taiwan was an adventure in itself.  Like getting a flight with the old Ansett and TAA, we checked in, loaded on a bus, packed in like sardines.  Mostly standing room on the buses just 3 or 4 seats, Christine is great she pushes in, makes sure we are at the front and both times we get the seats, yippee.  I am sure the Chinese were looking at those two old Aussie women, how rude they would have been thinking!

End of Chapter 1.

Another story from The Mint Green Cruiser
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