10 August 2009

Does Violet Dear Have a Rewarding Cultural Experience in the Taipei Airport?

No. She does not.

....

2:30pm – Am told by politely effete Eva Air ground staff that my record locator is not in the computer and they have no idea where my bag is. Deciding to remain completely calm I ask for further clarification. “Because your booking codeshare with Air Canada (if I had never been a travel agent, would I know what that meant?) it not in our system until 6 o'clock. You come back then.”

"Is this because I booked this yesterday?"
"Ahhhhh, yes."
"Is the flight full? Will I even get a window seat?"
"Ahhhhh, flight is full."
"Is there a chance I could get bumped?"
"Better you come here right at 6...."
My hopes of leaving the airport to fill this 10 (yes, 10 hour) gap and maybe seeing the museum or night market of Taipei are dashed. It's raining anyway....although I am headed to Vancouver for a week (giving it 7 chances to rain all day) so I had better get used to it.

Blinky lights.

2:45pm – Walking through airport hall that is an exact copy of every other glossy Southeast (I know this isn't Southeast Asia, but I gotta put some word in there to make it clear I do not mean India)Asian International terminal – shining white marble floors, perfume and chocolates and Ferragamo. People are pushing their tiny hand luggage with small carts. “Pshaw” I think, “that seems unnecessary. These softies obviously have never backpacked. It's a carry on, people. Geez, suck it up...”

2:55pm – Pushing my tiny luggage cart, I notice that every woman here is glamourously dressed and like, 5'10. Aren't Asian women supposed to be short? Aren't I supposed to feel like a lithe supermodel here, even though I stand at 5'3? In my frumpy leggings and blue plaid shirt I was kind of going for a “Lindsay Lohan (say what you want about her, but she always looks good) breezes through LAX” look but I think I may actually look like “Lindsay Lohan caught without make-up in a lumberjack contest.” Sigh. Only 9 more hours! 'Til I get on the 11 hour flight oh jesus.....

3:15pm – Wifi, though advertised throughout the airport, does not work. What the shit am I going to do for the next 8 hours and 40 minutes? I will find a pub, that sort of dim pseudo Irish dealie that most airports have.

3:58 – Still looking for the elusive cozy pub with a nook just for me. I see noodle kiosks, coffee stands and more duty free shops. Some serve beer, but in a brightly lit middle of the day way that does not seem appealing. There are no fast food joints or chain restaurants – places that I usually abhor (ok, Pizza Hut and Subway don't count. Neither does Taco Bell, because we don't have it in BC and I am jealous) but look for greedily when I have 8 hours to kill in a foreign airport. Like a Milestones, or a Ruby Tuesdays....even a blech...TGI Fridays.... I just want a nice meal sized salad, some healthy bread and a big water. Really fresh and healthy – that is the way to stave off jetlag and since I am only going home for a week I need to avoid the dreaded headachy 'home-from-Asia” confusion as much as possible. No alcohol, no caffeine, no dairy – I want to feel good when I arrive.

4:10pm – see large group of Asian men in white garb and matching white hats. “Well, it's nice to see that all kinds of religions are represented here!” I happily think to myself. Upon closer inspection they are sushi chefs. I am a dick. Well meaning, but still....

4:35 – Thank god the effete man told me I had to come back at six, thus ruining my plans to go to the city. If I had gone, I would be soaked to the bone in this torrential downpour that is happening outside. Add that to my ruddy complexion, trucker attire and flip flops and I'm sure I would have been a picture - more so.

4:46 – Drinking latte and eating surprisingly good cheesecake. Hey, I need energy. This little cart won't push itself...

5:45 – An entire hour killed! Amazeballs! I was on the wifi (the coffee shop has it) and you know (obviously you do – you're on it...) how fast the interwebs kill time.

6:35pm – After being studiously ignored for 30 minutes by the 8 (!) very busy members of the Eva Air ground staff at the transfer counter, I am told by the agent that I am not actually in the computer as being on the flight, and no – they do not know where my baggage is. Could I wait ten minutes? I suppose I can, I mean, it's not like I can fly anywhere, is it?

7:01pm – Still sittin'. Presumably still not on flight. Had my first chance to speak Mandarin (I know how to say Thank you and Hello) in a practical situation though, so that's something. Sure isn't nothing.....

They just look like they could getcha all kinds of pregnant.

7:06 pm – Just noticed that Taiwan is hosting the World Games. S and I were watching them last week on ESPN like, 12 – it's basically the Olympics for frat dudes and fat dudes alike. We were treated to some “Ultimate Frisbee” finals. There are posters everywhere in this airport featuring their mascots, whom I think look like a cross between Hello Kitty and sperm. They are even called “twin droplets.” Come on. Really?

7:16pm – There has been a Christina Aguilera Christmas album playing for 10 minutes. That is all I have to say about that.

7:20pm – Success! Boarding pass issued, bag accounted for, Vegetarian meal confirmed and window seat miraculously available. And only 4 hours and 35 minutes left.....oh jesus, that's still bad. But better. Back to the coffee shop....and possibly more cheesecake.

7:33pm – Walk past a girl in the exact cute sandals with the ankle cuff-y thing that I tried to find in Jakarta. Her outfit is cute too. Am seized by jealousy. Moments later stop to covet a bottle of Viktor and Rolf Flowerbomb and some Marc Jacobs sunglasses. Tell me why am I a grubby backpacker eschewing material goods again?

7:58pm – A delicious rich aroma wafts through the air, the smell of simmering flavourful broth. But don't get confused – that's not coming from my bowl of vegetarian noodles. No smell at all is emanating from this bowl. This reminds me of a ramen shop that S and went to in Winnipeg last year. We asked if they had vegetarian broth available, and they said, "No problem." Five minutes later the waitress confirmed our order - two bowls of ramen in "water broth." I was like,

"Whoa - what?"
"Water broth - for vegetarian."
"It's literally just water? Noodles and water?" She nodded. We went for Mexican instead....

8:26pm – Drinking only water – proud of myself for restraint. 3.5 hours left. I could watch Fanny och Alexander and still have time to kill....though not the 5 hour Criterion-released director's cut that we actually own at home. I stare at it on the shelf and it taunts me. “You're never gonna watch me, are you? You think you know better than Bergman, don't you?” No. I don't, but Ingie, come on. 5 hours?

8:37pm - The woman sharing the electrical outlet with me is listening to, and singing, Take a Bow by Madonna. She does not know the words, does not speak English, and is just kind of mimicking the sounds. Wow. Wowee. It's exactly like this, actually...

8:51pm - OK, this is the third effing time she has sung the song.

Um, branding department? Yeah... we've had to lay you off. Um, sorry.

8:54pm - Having can of Taiwan beer. How does it taste? Really bad. But I like its utilitarian, no nonsense design - reminds me of the Dharma Initiative beer cans on Lost. Is it time for the sixth season yet? Is it time for my flight yet?

9:16pm - There are nice displays of tourist attractions I could have seen here in Taipei if I had been able to leave the airport: Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, National Palace Museum, Maokong Tea Garden. However, I have been able to see the Unmoving Line-up, the Taiwanese Madonna Fan and the Incredible Flavourless Soup.....

9:51pm - Time speeding up slightly as I read the news. I have a lot to catch up on...

10:21pm - Just sneezed. A dozen angry looking faces snapped up to stare at me. Perhaps I have swine flu? Don't worry, most of these people have on paper face masks. You know - paper! Impenetrable paper! What they use for fumigation purposes and chemical attacks and to make condoms from. Completely useless, errr, completely necessary and useful paper masks.

10:40pm - Coffee shop is closing. And me still with an hour before boarding. How am I supposed to eat a full supper on the plane at 2am? Especially since the first thing I am going to do when I get home is get started on Part 2 of this post? I'll tell you how. With gluttonous-ness. That's how.

Is she winking at me?

11:25pm - Hello Kitty (with no reproductive fluids around) tells me that I had better shop. I buy a 40 pounder (40 ounce bottle. We're metric, yes - but for certain things we still use imperial. Alcohol, our weight and our height) of Absolut for 13 Canadian dollars. S alerted me recently that terms such as "40 pounder" "60 Pounder" and "Twixer" are all BC-only terms. He also said the same for "Cold Beer and Wine Store" (said all at once) or "See Bee and Dub" for short. Then he gave me an absolutely withering look.

11:28pm - At the gate now. After 10 months in Asia, it feels really really strange to be surrounded by a whole gaggle of people who are going not only to Canada, but to my city. It feels really weird. I realize that I am already in a bit of culture shock just being around my fellow Vancouverites. We're in for an interesting week, ladies and gentlemen....


16 comments:

Dandy said...

Great post! I laughed out loud!

Paulina said...

hahahahah, love the christina aquilara christmas album playing in the background, and the "news". good stuff.

Good luck venturing back to Canada!

Paulina

Pat said...

Have a good time back in Canada, EH? Hope you don't have too hard of a time adjusting!

The Bug said...

Twin Droplets - oh that's just too funny! Loved the play-by-play. Reminds me a little of the one I did of my trip to Zambia (involving a detour to Brussels & lost luggage) - but I'm not NEARLY as funny.

the person within said...

great post.. was really funny.. guess the "lost baggage" takes place at almost all airports across the world..:)

Emily said...

Haha

Sounds like my time in the Salvador, Brazil airport (:

kanmuri said...

Reminds me of the day I spent in Melbourne airport. That was one long day...

Jill said...

Nice post, way to pass the time. And yes, it is raining...

Roses said...

Amusing oneself at a foreign airport is an art.

When I had a 12 hour wait at Crown Point International Airport, Tobago (nothing like a marble and gloss coated monstrosity you were in), I managed to negotiate lending rights at a second-hand book shack. I think I must have read 5 awful romances, eaten 3 meals, went on a boat trip round a coral reef and drank hideous amounts of beer.

All in all, not a bad trip.

Dasher said...

In Australia we've got a liquor store called BWS (Beer Wine Spirits). We like to get as many different alcohols into our abbreviations ;)

Must be good to get to Canada

Chris Quach said...

I look forward to reading more of your adventures. Certainly inspires me to get out and just "observe" life.

Kristen said...

Love this post...Have a nice time at home!

Shobhit said...

Really looking forward to many more of your posts - just love them - really laughed my heart out for this one

Anonymous said...

Nice blog!! I laughed several times reading about your venture. Keep it up and safe travels

Anonymous said...

nice. (real)
and we have had Taco Bell in B.C. forever...and a day. What they dont have is a good green bean burrito like they serve up in the States. sigh...

Violet Dear said...

@Anonymous - yes we have - but they are shared with KFC (or at the theatre) and only have a tenth of the menu. BC Taco Bell's are dead to me....

 
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