[This is one post of a series which recaps the travels of Debbie and I in Taiwan.]
Since September I had been looking forward to the day Debbie would be joining me in Taiwan. When I left for Taiwan, we had in mind that she would come visit during my nine-month stay. We thought her visit would both alleviate the pain of living apart for so long and take advantage of the fact that I was already going to be in Taiwan for other reasons anyway, so we might as well plan for a vacation together in Taiwan rather than France.
On December 30th had arrived the moment which for so long I had been hoping for, the day of Debbie’s coming to Taiwan. In the mid-afternoon, I took the Guo Guang bus from Dharma Drum to Taipei to greet Debbie at the airport. Debbie had surprised me two weeks earlier by announcing that she had booked a round trip to Taiwan. Just a few days before her announcement, she was still telling me how difficult it would be to find time to come to Taiwan. I was despairing that she would ever come. While riding on the bus from Dharma Drum to Taipei, I was looking forward to our long-awaited reunion but I was also concerned that maybe this reunion would be delayed. I had been keeping track of her flights online and knew that her flight from the US to Tokyo had been significantly delayed. It was not certain whether she would make the connection to her Tokyo to Taipei flight. The buses between Dharma Drum and Taipei run on such a schedule that calling the airline to know whether Debbie would be on her originally scheduled flight would have not changed anything to my travel plans. Therefore, I planed on her arriving at the airport at the expected hour.
After my arrival at the central station in Taipei, I went up to the food court on the second floor of the station to grab a quick supper at Minder Vegetarian. I then returned to the first floor and stopped at the information desk to ask about travel options to Taoyuan airport. I was planing to take the High Speed Rail but it never hurts to know about alternate possibilities for transportation. I learned that there is a Guo Guang bus which takes 40 minutes to reach the airport and costs about 120 yuan. I decided I wanted to try to HSR anyway so I bought my HSR ticket and made my way to the train. From the Taoyuan HSR station, I took the shuttle bus to the airport.
Travel tip: I now believe the best option is usually to take the HSR and the shuttle bus from the HSR to the airport. The Guo Guang is not cheaper than the HSR by much and is not as convenient. A taxi from the central station area costs about 1100 yuan and is not faster than the HSR. I know because I’ve also done the trip by taxi.
Arriving at the airport just a bit before Debbie’s scheduled arrival time of 7:30PM, I congratulated myself on my planing. As I looked anxiously at the arrival announcements, I saw that her plane would arrive on time. So when people started streaming out of the immigration and customs area, I kept my eyes on the exit to make sure I would not miss Debbie when she came out. And I waited, and I waited, and I waited, and she did not come. When it was clear to me that she was not on her flight, I went to the information desk and asked for help. The clerk put me in touch with Japan Airlines, which confirmed that Debbie had not been able to make her connection but would be on the next flight from Tokyo.
Commentary: I don’t know how different flights which are sharing the same plane (i.e. code-shares) can arrive at different times. And yet, this is precisely what the arrival board was showing. My wife’s flight arrived before the other flights which were on the same plane!
So I had to wait some more. I called Hsiu-Lan to let her know that Debbie was going to be late. Hsiu-Lan had helped us book a room at the Beauty Age Hotel (Meidai) for that night. Hsiu-Lan and I had also been planing to maybe ride together to Dharma Drum the next day. After the call, I explored the airport, spotted where the buses arrive and leave, bought new batteries for my camera, had a coffee. Finally, Debbie’s flight arrived, and just as Debbie came out of customs, my phone rang. It was Hsiu-Lan calling to check on the situation. So I ran to greet Debbie, all the while talking to Hsiu-Lan on the phone. Not quite what I had imagined when I was thinking of Debbie’s arrival. At any rate, when the phone call was over, I finally was able to welcome Debbie properly. (Feel free to imagine what “properly” means.) I also quickly learned from her that her back was hurting. She said that the pain developed during the flight from Tokyo to Taipei. This was the first sign to me that our trip around Taiwan might not go as planed.
I was initially planing to go to the hotel by public transportation but after hearing Debbie talk about her back pain, I asked her what kind of transportation she preferred. We took a taxi to our hotel. We were expected there so checking in was speedy. After receiving a tip from me, the bellboy who took our luggage to our room decided to show us the location of all the light switches in the room. Beauty Age is a hot spring hotel so our room had a large bath, large enough for two people to be submerged to the neck and still have plenty of room to move. So Debbie and I took advantage of the hot spring bath. We were hoping the warmth of the hot spring would help her back pain.
Travel tip: A taxi from Taoyuan to Beitou can make sense because it does save significant time. What does not make sense is a taxi to between the airport and the central station in Taipei. Of course, all of my tips are subject to modification depending on specific circumstances.
Next attraction: the hospital.