I’m back and there’s so much to write about! But I might as well start at the beginning.
The flight was excruciatingly long although some things helped make it tolerable. There seemed to be more leg room, and the flight wasn’t too full. Just one other woman and me had a row to ourselves with no one in the middle, and because it was a center row, we both had aisle seats. Plus we were right near the front of the back half the plane.
There were also plenty of good movies. I watched I, Tonya (really good) and The Last Jedi (kind of dumb but entertaining). I started to watch the second Kingsmen movie but kept falling asleep.
Someone mentioned the food on EVA was “really good.” It was not. I mean, it was fine but definitely not “really good.” However, upon retrospect this might have been because I picked the Western-style meals, at least on the flight in.
I managed to sleep a little, but it was one of those wake-up-every-20-minutes sleeps. We landed about an hour late, but I didn’t feel much difference between 15 and 16 hours. The customs line also wasn’t too bad, but what no one tells you is that you have to fill out an “arrival card.” I saw everyone had one but just hoped for the best. Of course I had to have one. The customs agent, while not very warm, did let me come right back to her after I filled out the card.
I had checked my suitcase since it was free, and lo and behold, by the time I got to the baggage carousel, all our luggage was already set out on the floor. Lickety split! I managed to find an ATM, then the MRT. A nice employee helped me get a ticket to where I was going, and the train ride was relatively fast.
I sat across from a girl who was very alternative. Long curly-ish hair, dark dramatic makeup, giant hoop earring, tattoos. That was my first impression of people in Taipei, but almost everyone else I saw after that has been more conventional.
At my stop, I looked for the taxi stand. I don’t think I mentioned I was following the directions of a random individual who wrote a review of my hotel. There was a lady at the stand who asked me where I was going, hoping to share a cab. Quickly she assessed I didn’t speak Mandarin well, and switched to English. She helped me tell the driver where I was going.
I was a little worried because the lady said the hotel was in the next town over, and although it was a longish drive (about 15 minutes), the ride was less than $5. (The train ride was about the same.) Also, the driver was honest and kind enough to tell me it wasn’t necessary to tip taxis or restaurants. He did annoy me a little: because I didn’t know the word for “museum,” he was like, “Didn’t your parents speak to you in Mandarin?” I said, “If I didn’t know any Mandarin, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
The hotel, the Park City Luzhou, was really nice. In fact I loved it and would stay there again. I saw some reviews saying the rooms were small, but mine was pretty big with a nice, large bed. Everything, including the bathroom, felt clean and new, and the shower had excellent water pressure. Plus there were tons of freebies:
- Bottles of water every day
- “3-1” instant coffee packs (instead of a coffee maker, there was a water heater, which I prefer)
- WiFi that let me stream Netflix (some hotels block it or the WiFi isn’t fast enough)
- A free gym which was clean, spacious, had tons of equipment, and never a lot of people
- Breakfast every morning (it wasn’t super delicious but it was filling, gave me energy, and did I mention was free?)
The only freebie I didn’t partake in was the fruit. It didn’t look great and I put it in the fridge. (By the way, there was a fridge, which a lot of American hotels seem to have done away with.)
One downside was the area right outside wasn’t the nicest. It was quite congested with cars and a zillion motor scooters (a popular choice for transportation). The vicinity wasn’t pretty either (and I’d find I’d feel the same about most of the parts of Taipei that I saw), but it was convenient because there were lots of restaurants and convenience stores close by.
Speaking of which, I’d often stop in those convenience stores and stock up buns for breakfast (the “butter and raisins” quickly became my favorite), yogurts for a healthy belly, and dirt cheap tea eggs for whenever. My first day I bought a couple of weird sparkling vinegar juice drinks:
The verdict? Freaking delicious.
Next up: more eats and drinks!