Despite traveling from one end of Taiwan to the other on the High Speed Rail, I was back in Taipei by ten minutes after noon. I rushed to one of the subway lines and a few minutes later, met my friend Jay for lunch at a large hotel.
Jay and I worked together during the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival many years ago. He has since moved back to Taiwan and is running a company that produces and distributes various media with an emphasis on television channels. After lunch, he invited me to attend a press conference that was being held to promote a competition held by the Syfy channel.
Lin Yu-hsien, Director of the 2011 Taiwanese hit film Jump Ashin, appeared at the press event with two young ladies who, if I understand correctly, work with the tourism board and produce all sorts of internet media. Their “thing” is that they plank all over the place in Taiwan. Why anyone would choose to lie face down on a hotel conference room’s carpeting is beyond me. How they relate to the Syfy channel contest is beyond me, too. Made for an interesting experience, though.
Afterwards, Jay and I embarked on a somewhat whirlwind series of events. First stop, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum where we breezed through several exhibits including one featuring works by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei. Maybe we weren’t in much of an art mood, but neither Jay nor I were particularly impressed by the artist’s works. The one above, “Forever Bicycles,” is perhaps the best-known work in the exhibit. It is visually interesting but I’m not sure that it really says all that much.
We also stopped for coffee at the downtown Taipei airport and hung out on the observation deck, which has good views of flights coming and going for “near international” destinations like Tokyo and Shanghai.
I headed back out to Taoyuan Airport, the main international airport, using the high speed train and bus connection. As our schedules worked out well, I was able to meet Xangan Jack (made2order), who had just returned to Taipei a week earlier and was helping a chef friend at the Novotel airport hotel conduct a cooking class. No pictures, unfortunately, but enjoyed talking food and cooking with him and the chef friend, an Indian man who has worked in Taipei several years.
Back at the airport, I zoomed through security and immigration and headed to the lounge, where my carry-on bag was waiting for me in the locker. Enough time to shower again, change clothes, and catch my breath before boarding the flight to Bangkok.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I used miles to upgrade to business class on this final segment of my trip. I did this primarily to make sure I had access to the airline lounge, lest I end up stuck at the airport for my entire 15-hour layover. The other benefit, of course, was that my final three-hour flight was an extremely comfortable one!
Menus were distributed before takeoff along with glasses of Champagne. EVA has started distributing menus for the economy class on long-haul flights, too, which seems a little silly but at least you end up feeling like your choice of meals is a bit nicer than just “chicken or beef”.
Business class cabin on the A330. The load on this flight, which continues from Bangkok to Vienna, was light, maybe 40% in business class and not much more in economy. The man sitting across the aisle from me was also taking lots of pictures so I guess someone else has blogged about this flight, too.
Appetizer of a chicken pate served in crust with salmon roe and salad.
Choice of various breads including garlic toast. The one of the right is a rustic whole grain bread.
My selection for dinner, poached noodles with braised beef shank and tendon served in superior sauce. Very tasty, although a little bit of tendon goes a long way for me.
On-board espresso machine produces lattes and other drinks to order with a rock sugar stir stick.
Dessert was a modest fruit plate.
Business class passengers were given an immigration priority lane pass, which was really pointless for a 2:30 am arrival as that is after the last wave of arriving flights and there are no lines at the immigration counters. That said, I breezed through and was the first to arrive at the baggage claim. I then had to wait fifteen minutes for the bags to start arriving. Thankfully, mine were among the first few bags to come off the belt!
Catching a taxi home, I was in bed by 4:00 am, exhausted from my more than fifty hour journey from Kansas City.