First Day Crazies

I have definitively arrived in a foreign country where no one knows who I am. Sounds horrific to say, but it is actually very nice. I finally am in Taiwan and somewhat settled in at a hostel located near Roosevelt Road. I have to admit that I don’t have a very proficient way of starting this post. What do you talk about when you first get to a place?

Airports

Maybe, who knows, one day someone will stumble upon good old Panda Musings and require my help making their way to Formosa. If that is the case, and I shall write as if it were, then let me begin with all of the departure madness. I tend to want to spend less and therefore have to go through some inconvenience to get around. My line of reasoning: I am a young college student who has more time and less money, and if time is money than I’m filthy rich! TIP: when a flight booking website like expedia sends you tickets, you still have to go to the desk to get the real ticket. It might seem obvious to you, but I felt hunky dory waiting in line to pass through security only to find out…I had to start over. Also, I had ot wait a long while to find someone who could help me get my tickets, apparently I was an anomaly that day. So, my flight from Dulles was less than awesome. For whatever reason everyone and their grandmother wanted to get back to LA on a Monday night–which was great for me since it gave me all sorts of victims to talk to. The flight attendants packed us all into this metal canister that was about to hurl itself into the air and move across the continental US. It wasn’t all bad I got seated next to a nice family who would occasionally say hello but didn’t seem to interested in chatting for long. United Airlines, despite having a better reputation than a smaller company I normally use called Airtran, weren’t very friendly at all. Sure, it is a packed flight, but come on lighten up a little!

I rolled out of LAX completely lost and needing to find out where the International portion of the airport was hiding. This should have been fairly easy to do, but a lack of good signage makes for a very difficult time. I had assumed that the airport was just one giant complex, not knowing that I needed to hop on a bus that traveled around the port. I tried walking to the baggage claim section of the United Airlines, but an middle aged worker stopped me and redirected me to a back way to quickly reach the outside. I walked through security in the opposite direction at a lightning trot to avoid any awkward questions and reached my exit point:

The Sketch

The Sketch

As of this writing: you have to wait for Bus No. 2, you’ll see a Blue Sign that reads something like, “Airport transfer”. I bumped into a group of travelers going off to China while on the bus. I’ve noticed that I am sort of an odd man out traveling alone like this. I take a little bit of reckless pride in taking on a challenge solo, but it certainly has its disadvantages I am certain of that.

I hopped on Malaysia Air for my flight to Taipei. A young guy, recent high school grad from Utah, talked to me about his time in Taiwan, apparently his family used to live there (here). We talked about popular teenage trends, but he seemed pretty disillusioned, “Taipei is boring…” perspective is key. We board the mega plane, a huge Boeing 747, I had never been on a plane so big in my life. The flight, being 13+ hours gave me a lot of time to sleep and think. The airline provided juice, water and two meals, both of which were very tasty! Crossing over the island, I felt my heart leap as I realized a startling truth “S***, I’m in a foreign country!” However, the airport–TPE– looked just like Dulles, which can be very surprising to a new traveler. I sped through customs and the immigration process, and by sped I mean faltered like an idiot as I fumbled around with a pen to fill out paperwork. Originally, I wanted to fill it out in Chinese, acting suave and cool, but at that point it came to me that my chinese is honestly weak at best.

Alright this has already gotten way too long, but expect fun photos and talks about random things!

Oh!

Note On Hostels

Lonely planet will offer you a lot of advice about hostels, but they won’t tell you about a little place I found called the Chocolate Box Backpacker. It’s a great little living space with a very homey feel. I hung out with the staff for most of last night just enjoying the evening. We listen to Beatles music and drink tea…great times. It is located right off of Roosevelt Street near the Guting MRT station (Exit No. 3) I always get lost so if I can find it so can you! I highly recommend it, particularly if you are traveling alone and need to find some very helpful friends and fellow travelers. The fact that it is so out of the way, compared to other hostels, will help give you a more settled feel.
Alright kiddies the Panda needs to focus!

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