Sitting at Taoyuan airport…

Waiting to board the flight out of Taiwan.

After breakfast, I was able to visit my friend in the hospital and get my medical records before checking out of the Fullerton South ( love that hotel!) and being driven (no traffic, uneventful ride) to the airport.

It occurs to me how much more civilized many processes are here, especially those where you have to spend money! At the hotel, check-in was a breeze and they gave me express check out. The room contained a lovely fruit plate (kiwi, banana, asian pear), water, coffee and tea. Breakfast was delicious and as I pulled away from the Fullerton, I felt I’d come full circle: this is where I stayed my first month in Taiwan.

At the airport, check in/security/immigration processes are much friendlier. The Asiana agent that checked my luggage in was gracious about the slight overweightness. Luckily I’d planned for my carry on to be overweight and pulled enough stuff out and into my extra satchel that I was able to proceed to security.

I’d forgotten that I had an aerosol can in my carry-on but the agents were kind and actually let me use the hairspray again before confiscating it and LOGGING it. TSA, take note!

They did, however, miss my 3-plus ounce can of Mr. Brown coffee, oops!

The immigration officer seemed genuinely sad that I would not be returning to Taiwan.

The only thing keeping me from crying my eyes out is hearing the happiness in my Dad’s voice when I talked to him yesterday. His final chapter is starting, as is my next one.

Goodbye for now, Taiwan.

Homebuilding, take 1

I’m sitting at the A1 departure gate at Taoyuan International Airport, waiting for my flight to Manila to board. I’m plugged into a computer hotspot, trying to connect to the internet. I can see the “free Airport wifi” listed on my internet options but for some reason, my new laptop doesn’t feel like connecting to it. (Ah, the intricacies of getting online in a foreign country.) I have a feeling things will not get easier in the Philippines. (read: It’s truly a 3rd world in the “provinces” – or so I’m expecting.)

It’ll be interesting to see if the reality truly is that bad.

Some notes about departing from Taoyuan International Airport: the general public can actually get past the check-in counters and up to a strip mall of duty-free (and other) shops. If you’re travelling with family, this allows you to spend a few more minutes with them, go grab a meal together. Then your family/friends must leave as it’s through the custom’s line and onto security where you do not have to remove your shoes!! It’s all very civilized. No one is herding you into a specific area and droning on about “TSA” instructions, and little plastic bags as you pass by. It appears that the biggest dangers to airport (and personal) security are firecrackers, magnets (big ones, from the graphic), and guns. Now come on, who carries around a big old magnet? or thinks, hey, lemme celebrate my upcoming flight by firing off some small (but really loud) explosive devices? I guess it could happen, but in a nation of really well-behaved and super polite people, I’m guessing it doesn’t happen too often.

I’m drinking a Bernachon coffee (30 NT/1USD, cold, in a can, from a vending machine) and waiting for caffeine to kick in. I was up late last night, packing the suitcases: one for my personal stuff and one for all the donated and purchased items. We were told not to wear jewelery or wear fancy clothes, since the crime rate in PH is apparently quite high. Yikes! I got lots of tips on how to avoid getting pickpocketed from my filipino co-workers. It’ll definitely be a change from super safe Taipei.

My co-workers have arrived and are filling up their water bottles from a free vending machine next to the restrooms. Hmmmmm, doesn’t sound too appealing to me. I can see our plane at the gate…

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