Off to Taiwan

We have safely arrived in Taiwan today, November 30th! As usual, we had quite a scramble when we set out yesterday from Hamilton. We cleaned and finished packing in two hours before we left and walked to the bus stop, and of course as soon as we stepped outside the weather changed and it began to drizzle. Thankfully it didn’t pour and we made it to the bus station quite dry with 2 hours to spare until our next bus to Auckland left. We headed to the mall to get lunch and Chris picked up a pair of comfy pants he had been debating whether or not to buy. At 2pm we got on the bus to Auckland which was full to capacity. On top of that the air conditioner was broken on a 70ish degree day. I’ve never heard so much complaining besides maybe at the DMV… Sheesh. Also there were no two seats together so Chris and I were separated and I ended up falling asleep next to a nice woman, I’m happy I didn’t end up leaning on her and just stuck with my typical head back, mouth open stance. We arrived in Auckland at 4:30 then took another shuttle to the airport. It sounds like a lot of shuffling around but I guess we are used to it now since we both agreed time was going by really fast. Finally we were at the airport and checked in our packs at the China Airlines counter! Going through security was quite interesting because we were able to use the electronic passport feature for the first time. You go to a kiosk and slide your passport in picture side down and after scanning it prints out a ticket. Then you walk over to automated gates which usher you up to a camera where you are instructed to insert your ticket and look straight ahead for the camera. Your picture is taken and I’m assuming it is compared to the passport photo which you scanned previously. Within 10 seconds you are either given a green checkmark to go through, or whatever the opposite may be. Chris and I looked at each other in amazement as the process involved no humans whatsoever. Both of us were thinking “The future is now!” and had thoughts of Minority Report. We waited another hour before we could board and enjoyed the lovely view of the water from the International Departures part of the airport. We also got a peek at the plane…

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Chris was pretty excited about having the window seat and that I had the middle seat so he wouldn’t have to be next to anyone. Unlucky for him, this is what he ended up getting. I had a good laugh, him not so much. Also pictured is our dinner during the 3 hour flight from Auckland to Brisbane: beef noodle and chicken rice (quite descriptive).

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This flight was at most 40% full. Whole rows were completely empty and everyone just got up to have more room for themselves. We ended up not even having a third person in the row so I had a whole empty chair next to me. During this flight I watched the first Hunger Games and Chris watched the new Wolverine movie. We arrived in Brisbane at 8:30pm (11:30pm for us NZ time) and had to get off while they refueled the plane before Taiwan. During this time we checked out some shops and bought ourselves Christmas gifts, I got a cute overnight bag and Chris got a new backpack and matching hat. The girl working at the register was obviously super bored and very talkative. We had an awkward one sided conversation while trying to get out of there for about 20 minutes. When we finally escaped we headed to the gate where a million people were lining up. We just took a seat and I got a few minutes to take some pictures.

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Then we were on the plane again! Only 9 hours to Taiwan! It was close to 1am NZ time when we took off but neither of us could sleep yet. I ended up watching Now You See Me and Beasts of the Southern Wild before passing out uncomfortably. Chris fell asleep but just barely, most of the time with a blanket over his head to block out the light. At 3am Taiwan time (5 hours behind Auckland) we were woken up for breakfast. We landed at 5:30am.

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We went through immigration and picked up our bags in under 45 minutes. Once we had everything we walked out to the pickup area where a man was waiting for us with our names on a sign. He loaded our stuff into the trunk of a swanky BMW for our 45 minute ride to the International House where we would be staying. We arrived and had a little confusion with our reservations, but I guess that is to be expected when traveling to a very foreign country. At last we had our keys and got to check out our rooms. (Bottom left is a view from the balcony)

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It was like moving in to the dorms all over again! We had a stack of sheets and pillows to make the bed and a toiletry bag with some of the essentials. The only thing missing were towels so we knew we would have to go out and pick some up. One thing we couldn’t figure out was how to turn the lights. There were switches but flipping them didn’t do anything. With some trial and error we found that this ‘nightlight’ as we thought was actually a card holder for our room key. The key has to be put in the slot in order for the power to work. This ensures that nothing is left on when you leave your room. The future is now!

Before moving on I’d like to zoom in on the toothpaste.

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That made me chuckle. In our exhausted state, we went out in search of breakfast and towels so we could finally shower. We ended up walking through the university, as it is less than 5 minutes away and I got some more photos. Our first purchase was boba milk tea, then we went to Watsons, a CVS equivalent to get towels and whatnot. Here’s an assortment of pictures! We also found a McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Subway very close by.

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Although we’ve only been here a little over 12 hours I am enjoying it immensely. So many new things to see and experience!

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