Non-Citizen

I’ve arrived! Dog-tired but safely ensconsed in the Taipei Fullerton South. As you might imagine, it was difficult to say goodbye to my folks, not knowing if/when I’ll see them again. (I never was good at goodbyes!)

Props to the LA-based SuperShuttle for getting me to the airport on-time (read: hours early)! Being early for my flight turned into a blessing because the line was already forming for China Airlines check-in when I pulled up and I only had to wait 10 minutes before check-in began and was able to get an exit row seat!  I knew my bags were overweight and was prepared to pay the fee at the counter. What I wasn’t prepared for was the weight limit for carry-on! Luckily the limit for carry-ons had only recently changed so the CI counter rep offered to check my carry on at no additional cost! (Try that on any other international carrier.) NOTE: Luckily there are all sorts of SmartCarts along the Bradley International terminal arrivals lane ($5.00USD non-refundable) so I did not have to lug my heavy bags anywhere!

Although I booked my flight through Delta, the carrier (CI) check-in (at LAX) is located several terminals away from the Delta Sky Room. It was another beautiful day in southern California so I walked….and enjoyed the sunshine.

Our flight was delayed but we were eventually ushered onto the 747-400 carrying us across the ocean. I found my “window” seat (38A) did not have a window but by leaning forward, I was able to watch the buildings of Los Angeles get smaller and smaller…

I have nothing but compliments for the CI crew – their attention to detail (the flight attendants actually cleaned the lavatories every hour, themselves!) and willingness to accomodate (and remember) requests was amazing. I hadn’t requested a vegetarian meal in time but they still managed to find an extra dinner and breakfast for me. (I have no idea what I ate but it was delicious and apparently not meat!)

The flight was uneventful. My seatmates all spoke Chinese so I was able to practice a bit with them. (Today’s word is hen hao which means “very good”.)

Arriving in Taipei, I wondering what the immigration and customs procedures would consist of. Would my luggage actually make it intact? Would I have to declare something? Actually, the process was simple: queue up to show your passport/visa, take the escalator down to the (very well marked) baggage carousel, pick up the (free) baggage cart and wait, wait, wait. Side note: why is the worst part of any flight the endless waiting for one’s luggage?

I found ALL my luggage intact and was able to find the rental car counter, my driver, and eventually (after a lovely 20 minute drive), my hotel. Now, SLEEP!

T minus 5

My bags are packed, which is a minor miracle considering I left SC Tuesday afternoon, scheduled to fly out of ATL Wednesday evening. I managed to keep them both under 50 lbs; the items must last at least 6 weeks until the boxes I hastily packed Wednesday morning, arrive. I decided to mail my suitcases to SoCal (I fly out of LAX) so as not to have to lug them through the various stops I’m making to visit family before leaving this continent. I hope they make it to CA before I leave.

When I arrive in Taipei, I’m to collect my luggage (sure hope I have luggage to collect!) and make my way to the car rental counter where my “driver” (sure hope he/she speaks or understands English!) is to take me to the Fullerton. My flight is 16+ hours, non-stop on China Airlines (sure hope I can get an aisle, bulkhead, or emergency row seat!). The flight arrives at 8:20pm and I’m curious as to how long it takes to make it through customs. (The last time I had to pass through customs was last year in Belize and that was a breeze. The time before that, when I returned from Germany, took literally hours despite having nothing to declare!) Wish me luck….I’ll let you know what happens.

 

 

 

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As for me, I will take the road less travelled…