9/19/2010: After taking the 9 AM train from Absecon and arriving at 10:30 in Philly, I stood in line for the 10:30 AM Megabus to New York. I was not allowed to get on the bus, since I bought my ticket for 11:30, so I had to wait another hour in 30th St Station, followed by another 30 minute wait for the late bus. I arrived in New York at around 27th and 7th and walked to Penn Station, where I caught the 2:40 PM Long Island Rail Road to Jamaica, Queens. After that and an AirTrain ride, I arrived at JFK at around 3:30 PM. Now, my flight was not supposed to leave until 11:55 PM, so I had a lot of waiting to do. During this time I watched Not One Less, a film by one of my favorite directors, Zhang Yimou. It was excellent, as expected! At around 7 PM, the check-in booth opened and while standing in line, the man in front of me was talking to a China Airlines rep, and then told me that our flight was delayed until tomorrow! Okay, I thought. The flight was for 5 minutes before midnight, so maybe it was just delayed for an hour or so. Nope, it was not until 9 AM! I was given my boarding pass, and the airline gave everyone free hotel rooms at the JFK International Airport Hotel.
9/20/2010: I woke up to my alarm at 6 AM, and was out of the room by 6:45. After a half hour of waiting in line to be picked up by the hotel van, we drove to our terminal and I was through security and at my gate before 8 AM. China Airlines gave us a free sandwich and water for breakfast, and we eventually took off at about 9:20. During the flight I got to see a Great Lake by Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and some huge mountains (with plenty of glaciers) in the Yukon. We arrived in Anchorage, Alaska 7 hours later, where we spent 2 hours in the airport terminal, with not much to see except some distant mountains and the Anchorage skyline.
Taken right before boarding at JFK
9/21/2010: Switching to Taipei time. On the way to Taiwan, I got to see some rural parts of Japan from a few miles up. Other than that, it was all ocean, with an exception for the Kamchatka peninsula, which I missed. Arrival at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport was at 3:08 PM. Disembarking, customs, currency exchange, an hour long bus ride to downtown Taipei, and a subway (MRT) ride to my hostel followed. Arrival at Taiwanmex hostel: 5:45 PM. Since I was later than expected and the hostel manager never received my update, my bed had been given away. No worries though, there was another building with beds, and that turned out to be fine. The next hour was reserved for drinking water (I was incredibly thirsty) and relaxing on the couch. By the time I left the hostel, it was already dark out (which is why I have no photos here yet). But I still got to walk a good 10 miles in Taipei, according to my GPS. This is the night before the Mid Autumn Festival, a major Chinese holiday. People were outside barbequing on the street with their family, friends and neighbors. There were also long lines for mooncakes, the traditional dish for the holiday. My first impression of Taipei is very positive. It is a very clean and safe city, with a nice subway system. The main problem was that the subway stations were almost impossible to find. It took about 3 hours to eventually find one! This was after asking a couple of people for directions, until I finally lucked out on my third try when asking two Americans. The Americans had a map, but as they were about to tell me where to go, a Taiwanese guy got out of a cab (not the driver) and gave me perfect directions! Less than 10 minutes later, I am in the station, and two stops later I am at my hostel area. While I was lost, I bought some unsweetened green tea(?) and garlic bread (had no idea before I tasted it), and this was my dinner. Also, during this entire walk, I had a GPS logger on me, tracking my every move! But it was no help to me at the time, because I didn’t have my netbook to view the log file. Looking at it now, I seemed have backtracked and made many loops, which confirms the suspicions I had while I was lost. Okay, it’s 2:30 AM. Off to bed.
Note: I can be reached on my cell here in Taiwan by dialing 609-568-0461. This is an Atlantic City area number, so it is a local call if that’s local for you. It is my Google Voice number, which will forward calls to Localphone, an international forwarding service that forwards to my Taiwan cell. Please remember that I am 12 hours ahead of New Jersey time, so an afternoon call in the US will be a middle-of-the-night call in Taiwan.