Travelogue – Taiwan 2011 – Week 1 (July 27 – 30)

The long journey from Tampa and Taiwan was long and involved multiple stops. I first flew to Detroit where I had to take a connecting flight to San Francisco. The Detroit flight took around three hours. The connecting flight to San Francisco took another five, give or an hour or two for the delays.

I haven’t flown in a long while but I definitely saw the economic crunch’s impact on domestic US flights. The last time I flew with check-in bags, the first two were complementary. Yeah, I know I don’t really get out that much. I found via Delta’s website that the first check-in bag is $25 and the second is $35. Meals for long flights used to be complementary, but now I had to pay $8 for a sandwich that I probably would normally pay $2-3 from 7-Eleven. Good thing the usual single snack and drink are still free, though they do offer “packaged” snacks and ice cream for a price.

After arriving at San Francisco International Airport, I took my final flight on China Airlines which served all the amenities you could ask for, albeit you still have to pay a premium for the 12-hour flight. The cost ended up just over $1000. The plane was two stories. The cabin was much more spacious offering the triple-aisle seating and more comfortable seating. The flight attendants offered complimentary snacks, drinks and meals throughout the flight. The only thing they didn’t offer was Wi-Fi service.

So I left on July 27 and arrived on July 29 losing a day from the accrued travel time and the remainder of the other day from the time zone shift. I arrived a bit jet-lagged. So it took me a little while to get reoriented. I met up with my cousin and his wife to help me get oriented into the area.

Once he picked me up from the airport, I noticed a few prevalent things when traveling around the streets of Taiwan – the overabundance of the scooters, the nonchalant nature of traffic, and a significant number of people about maybe one out of every eight carry surgical masks (and I thought as a country, the US was overly health-conscious).

They live in a huge apartment space which the floor has been converted into a church. I noticed looking outside the windows the metal surrounding the area in the apartments were used similarly to that of patios. The look reflected more like prison bars.

After my arrival, I stayed at their apartment until they took me to my hotel, the Champion Hotel in Fuzhong. I had a chance to eat at a couple of restaurants like the Canton Cuisine & New China Tea at the Global Mall and an outdoor eatery near the hotel.

The Global Mall wasn’t really anything to write home about. It felt like your typical American mall experience with the usual franchises, products and commercialism. It is fine for what it is. The only glaring differences I see from American malls are – (1) You actually have some variety in Chinese restaurants as compared to those who only know of the experience of PF Changs or any other take-out place. (2) There are more play areas children can enjoy themselves in.

Next time – Exploring an electronics trade show, traveling in the streets on Taipei and other miscellaneous observations.

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About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News, Examiner.com, and Tampa Tribune.
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