Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Seattle To Taiwan: An Interesting Travel Day

Despite a few hassles along the way, we've arrived safely in Taipei Taiwan and are snug in our room at the Caesar Park Hotel across from the main train station.

Our United Express flight SEA-LAX was fine, although an argument between a gate agent and a passenger delayed the flight (he won - details later).

To get from our arrival terminal to the Thomas Bradley International Terminal at LAX required a choice between a bus ride and a walk that another customer estimated as 15 minutes. We took the bus.

We entered in the Arrivals level and it took us a couple of minutes to figure out that we had to go upstairs.

Since UA in Seattle could not print our boarding passes for EVA Air, despite its being issued to us by UA, we had to report to the EVA counter. That didn't take too long.

We stood in line for awhile at the TSA check point - no pre-clearance here. Once through, it was a walk to get to the host club, where all we had time to do was to fill up a couple of water bottles.

We arrived at our gate just a few minutes before boarding started and were right near the front of the line. EVA lines passengers up for boarding like school children, but it was far more orderly than a typical United boarding line so we're not complaining.

Once aboard, we were treated to 13 hours of probably the best service we've ever had on a plane. The cabin was too hot, and the business seats, despite being only four across the entire cabin, are a bit narrow to sleep on one's side, but other than that it was magnificent. Of course, this airline is staffed with what appeared to be twice as many flight attendants as a typical American carrier.

We were called by name throughout the flight, we sipped Dom Perignon 2003 champagne as an aperitif, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, despite Kathy's being hampered somewhat by a cold.

The flight itself was very bumpy at times ("moderate chop" at least) and at least twice the captain ordered the cabin crew to be seated.

Once on the ground, we got ourselves through Immigration and Customs without a hitch. The hitch came just after 11:00 p.m. when we tried to take the bus to the high-speed train to the city. It turns out it doesn't run this late; in fact, we might have just missed the last bus of the day.

Instead we took the bus to the city train station and it took "only" an hour, not quite as long we had anticipated. We asked the bus driver for directions to the hotel and he pointed us in one direction. The road we took wasn't getting us anywhere so we retreated and entered the station, finally getting help from a 7/11 manager. Oh, thank heaven for Seven-Eleven!

This time we found ourselves across a divided road from the hotel, but another helpful bystander pointed us to an elevator to the MRT (subway) and we descended, then crossed the street underneath, coming up two flights of stairs to the hotel.

And here we are. It's just before 10:00 a.m. Wednesday at home and here it's nearly 1:00 a.m. Thursday morning. Our 7:00 a..m. wakeup call will come early (we're to be in the lobby at 8:10 a.m. for our tour), but we'll hope to get some sleep.

Given the minor hassles of the day, it may be just as well to start off with our bus tour and let ourselves ride and be led around for a few days.

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