Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What I thought was the end of the story...

... Wasn't.

We got to the airport in Taipei on Sunday and waited for our flight to Manila. The time to board came and went and then we were told that the plane would leave an hour late, which was a problem because we had about an hour layover to get our flight home. Ugh. (Incidentally, they told us that the lateness was due to the plane coming in late from the last flighty, but it was already there! Virgin America can turn over a plane in 15 minutes, so I have no idea why it took them an hour and a half to do so!).

Ok, so we board and fly. Then we get to the gate and just sit there inside the plane for 15 minutes because 2 planes were trying to get to the same gate at the same time. You can imagine me and Erin at this point, doing the same dance that you do when you have to pee... We then jam up the ramp and are told that we have to go to the transfer desk because we have to go through security. Whatever. We go to the transfer desk and are told to sit in their holding pen while we wait for someone to walk us to security (why???). We are super late at this point and stressed so we are just staring at the woman and keep asking to please be let to go. Finally they take us to normal, vanilla security (we could have just gone there ourselves) and then AGAIN through the exact same security 10 feet inside of that, at the gate. It's as if they just don't trust those guys standing literally 10 feet away...

Anyway, yay!! We made it. Lots if stress, but we are there! Once again, our board time comes and goes and then our fly time comes and goes. Nothing is said.

Finally, someone comes on the PA saying it will be delayed 45 mins.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat like 3 times.

Finally at 12:30am they start reading out names. My name and Erin's name are both read out, so we go to stand in a huddled mass of concerned people who are told by a totally terrified and incompetent girl that we must go back to the transfer desk with no explanation of why. This is a bunch of Americans, so obviously no one moves and people start asking for a manager. We have one lady who takes charge, who speaks Phillipeano, and gets the skinny: the flight is cancelled and we have to go through immigration because they are putting us in a hotel.

Long story slightly less long, at like 1:30am we are taken to a casino hotel in Manila and given rooms and vouchers for food. We are shuttled back to the airport at 8:30 the next morning for a noon flight, which turned out to also be an hour late, but whatever. We finally got home at 10 am on Monday...

The actual accommodations on the plane were delightful with screens and actually really great leg room (the same amount I had paid Cathay Pacific 2.5 x that amount for on the way out), and the food was decent! So, I'd say, if you are totally fine with a random departure and arrival time, Phillipeans airlines is actually pretty ok. Just don't have a connecting flight!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Very last day

We had some time just now before we have to go to the airport, so we decided to go to Longshan temple and check that out.

The place was crazy-sauce!

It's really awesomely decorated and there was some sort of spectacle involving a band and fireworks and creepy guys in costumes. Fun fun!

So, now we are on our way to the airport, via Manila (where folders come from) and then to SFO. Again with the sleeping on the plane. Wish me luck!

The story continues...

So yesterday we went to the Chaing Kai-Sek Memorial and the Taipei Main Station/mall, which was fun. We had, as you probably saw, more Shanghai Buns (and again today) as well as a mango ice! We took it fairly easy in the evening as we were both tired and I wasn't felling 100%.

Today we went to Eslite Bookstore compound, which does house an amazing bookstore, but also a rather snooty selection of other cool shopping opportunities. We did avail ourselves if some if that as well as some if the tea in the tea shop. After, we walked to Taipei 101, which for quite some time was the tallest building in the world. We went to Zara in the mall at the bottom and then proceeded to the top for the obligatory tourist experience. What makes that building so different than other crazy tall buildings that I have been in is that there's NOTHING even remotely close in size in the entire country, so it simply towers above everything. You can see it from everywhere and the view from the top is singularly amazing. Also, instead of a clear glass floor, they have a mirrored one, with signage to assist the ladies in remembering their modesty. Then we went back to the bookstore basement for some chow because they have a gourmet food court at the bottom. I actually managed a very tasty cheese and meat plate!

Tomorrow our journey comes to a close, but we will have find memories of Hong King and Taiwan to take home with us. And one million really cheap face masks. (The skin care here is CRAZY cheap.)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The last couple of days

Have been super light on pictures because yesterday we went waaaaaay out to the edge of town and went to a public bath hot spring, which was very cool (hot), but no pictures obviously. It was also the one night we did not go to a night market, but ducked out to a really cool little street near us for some Shanghai food.

Today we went to the National museum, which was crazy and amazing and badly curated, but with great tour guides. Sadly, no pictures were allowed, but it was a spectacle to behold China's treasures anyway!

Tomorrow, I think we are going to run around the city and do some things recommended by Nancy and some other friends so hopefully I will have something exciting to show you. In the mean time, here's some tasty, tasty food. The dumplings in the pan are shanghai dumplings which are cooked like a deep fish pizza and crispy on the bottom and sides where they touch the pan. So very very tasty! The things on a stick are cherry tomatoes which have been candied! they were also really wonderful! We also tried roasted water caltrops, which are like 1/2 way between a potato and a macadamia nut in a hard shell - weird, but tasty and very good with fire meat (the meat cooked with a blow torch, which I cannot get enough of)!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Night market Mania!

We are evidently trying to go to as many night markets as possible while here. Last night we went to Shilin night market, which is the largest in Taiwan. Erin ate a sausage stuffed into another sausage, and we both had many tasty things to eat, including the blowtorch steak, which is surprisingly tasty!

Taiwan day 2

Yesterday we went on an 8 hour private taxi tour of the North Eastern coastline of Taiwan. We went to Chuifen, Juifen and Suifen Villiages, saw Nanya rock formations, bat caves, the golden waterfalls, and the Bay of two colors. We lit paper lantern wishes and sent them to the sky and ate a lot of weird stuff in the markets!

Taiwan day 1

So, Taiwan is awesome, as it turns out! Everyone is very friendly, the people are normal-sized and not over-dressed again and the humidity has dropped to a livable level. Yay!

We got here on Monday, and immediately went for dumplings and then to a night market. These pics are some of that goodness.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

So long Hong Kong!

Ojo Caliente

I believe the proper translation of the name of this hot spring in Yellowstone is "Hot Spring", which amused me a bunch. The sky was pretty intense, I thought.

Caution: Wildlife On Roadway

 Wildlife On Roadway

Got a chuckle at the site of this bison in Yellowstone yesterday.

The cutest dessert that I have ever had

We went out for some Peking Duck tonight, which was sooooo good. I ordered apple filled custards for dessert and this is what arrived! SO CUTE!!