Taiwan Trip Days 0 and 1

March 14th, 2010 § 1 comment

Regardless of how you plan a trip to the Far East from New York, there’s no getting around the geographical fact that it it’s over 7,000 miles and takes an entire day to travel from one place to the other. The first leg of our trip by way of Delta Airlines, was a bit late leaving and arriving, and was sorely lacking in food of any sort, but dropped us at LAX with enough time, or so we thought, to grab something to eat before our 11PM flight to Taipei. A quick glance at the departures board by our arrival gate in Terminal 5 indicated “TBT”, which read rather like “TBD” or “TBA”, suggesting that our gate had yet to be assigned. Wrong: TBT, it turns out, is shorthand for “Tom Bradley Terminal”, the giant new structure from which all international flights depart. Alas, it wasn’t until after we’d sat down to eat something that we found out this crucial nugget of information, and had to abandon our table to transfer over. We’d heard that there was better food at the international terminal anyway, so it was with some dismay that we discovered that all the good food is, in fact, before the security line, after which one’s options are reduced to a decrepit sandwich or whatever microwaved fare that the Sam Adams Pub is serving up. Having no other option, we went for the latter, then boarded our China Airlines flight about a half hour later, which was all set to leave on time at 11PM. Unfortunately, a Qantas A380 suffered a blown tire and damaged landing gear directly behind us at the gate, and changing a tire on 1,235,000lbs of aeroplane is neither as simple nor as quick as breaking out a tire iron and a jack in your driveway and popping on a new Michelin, so we were stuck idling at the gate for two and a half hours before finally taking off.

We arrived in Taipei at about 9:00AM local time, apparently when few other international flights show up, so we breezed through immigration and customs, and met Alex’s uncle and cousin who drove us into town to Alex’s aunt’s condo. Alex’s aunt greeted us warmly and, after a much needed shower, gave us some hot tea and some fruit, which Taiwan is famous for, particularly ‘bellfruit’, which look a bit like apples but have a texture more like a pear and are much sweeter. After our snack we headed off into town with Alex’s aunt via the metro, and ran into what appears to be an NYU outpost that may or may not have anything to do with the actual NYU. We had a look around SOGO, a massive, modern department store with an extensive shoe department which is high on Alex’s to-do list later in the week, and ate lunch at Din Tai Fung where we ate what I imagine will be the first of many Xiaolongbao. I’m told that the dumplings at Din Tai Fung are unrivaled and I have no reason to doubt it; the preparation of the dumplings happens in full public view and it seems to be a precise craft involving rolling, filling and finally folding with 18 creases before steaming. We hopped on the train back to the condo for a rest before the evening’s family dinner at Red Bean Hall, which included both of Alex’s aunts, her uncle and his wife, son and daughter, two cousins and a set of in-laws. Thirteen people, all told, and between us we polished off a monumental quantity of fine cuisine, including another round of Xiaolongbao, and fried frog (which, it turns out, is delicious), and a bottle of fine scotch. Finally, we tottered off home, exhausted, but absolutely satisfied, and thrilled to be here.

There should be more pictures coming, but I’ve just realized that I foolishly left my camera’s cable at home, so I’ll have to track down a replacement here, which shouldn’t be too hard. I’ll post them to Flickr when I can.

§ One Response to Taiwan Trip Days 0 and 1

  • Hannah says:

    I was annoyed about the Tom Bradley Terminal at LAX, too! I had a layover there en route to Seoul and I was sooo confused, not to mentioned annoyed that I had to schlep ALL of my heavy luggage there myself. But glad you were able to get some delicious food upon your arrival in Taiwan.

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