My Pre-Taiwan and Initial Taiwan Experience

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Normally when I write about my trips I'd start with Day 1, but I believe this time my pre-Taiwan experience merits a blog post all by itself.

Please allow me a moment of slow-clapping, this time in particular for the *drumrolls* LCCT system.

This LCCT system will soon die a natural death come the 9th of May, when all operations are moved to KLIA2.

Alas, it must make one more final memorable performance, so that all those who had the pleasure of experiencing it will not be forgetting it for a bit.

Heck, I'm even writing an ode to it now.

Last month, from the 18th of April towards the 28th of April, I went on a long-planned trip to Taiwan with my ex-colleagues, Poh Nee and Aeryn.

Anyway, we've always said  that we should all take a trip together somewhere. Due to myriads of reasons I'm too lazy to go into, we finally decided take that trip to Taiwan to find our old general editor, Keiko (who currently alternates between staying in Taiwan and Malaysia) last month.

Generally, we are all organized people.We even had a Google Document going on in the month prior to going to Taiwan, listing down which stations to stop at, which attractions to go to on which day, how to get to Keiko's house, etc etc.

Unfortunately, despite how insanely organised we were, even web-checking in and arriving at LCCT at 3PM (when our flight was at 5.30PM), the LCCT system let us down.

At around 3.30PM, Aeryn and I took our luggage for baggage check-in, each of us having purchased 20kg.  There we were, thinking we would have enough time to head back to Old Town White Coffee (where Poh Nee and her boyfriend was) and have something to eat.

But nooooooooooooo. The system at LCCT had to be down, and thus check-in counters were madly scrambled, with tourists heading to China, Hong Kong, Taiwan etc all stuck in the same 'international counters' area.

We had to wait for them to try to figure out how to fix the system ("Please wait 15 minutes for further updates"), before they manually announced the different counters. By the time we actually got to our counter, dumped our bags and had our documents checked and everything it was already 5.15PM or so.

With 15 minutes to go to our flight, Aeryn and I practically dashed up the escalators. Poh Nee sent us increasingly frantic messages, as she had already got onto the plane. When I saw the following scene that greeted us as we came up from the escalator, however, I seriously entertained the thought of getting the bus and going home.

I mean, how was I going to catch a flight in 15 minutes, with this crowd waiting to clear Immigration?


5.30PM quickly came and passed as Aeryn and I discussed about us going home. I messaged Keiko and told her that we were most likely going to be late, while Poh Nee kept us updated on the state of the plane. The captain announced that the LCCT system was down, so they were still waiting for a few passengers that checked in but couldn't get on board yet.

Two of which were Aeryn and me.

I mean, I'd TOTALLY have loved to be on the plane at that point in time, you know? Just rocket me through Immigration and then Customs straight to the plane.

After we cleared Immigration, there was still the matter of THIS, at Customs.


LINE stickers representative of what I felt at that moment. It was nearing 6PM, but the captain/pilot was still waiting for us stragglers according to Poh Nee. Thus we waited in line and had a couple of moments at Customs where they had me go through the sensors twice before patting me down (sensors, why you beep me?!).

When we FINALLY got past Customs... we ran. We ran past the shops, and as we went down the escalators, for the first time in my life....

I heard my name called over the intercom, asking me to hurry to gate T18.

WHOSE FAULT WAS IT THAT I WAS LATE TO BOARD THE PLANE? WHO?!?! 

The officers at the gate even had the gale to cheekily mock-sternly ask us why we were late.

I'D LIKE TO KNOW TOO.

Anyway, I learned that

a) Man am I out of shape, was so tired after I speed-walked all the way to the plane and to my seat, and

b) Both Aeryn and I were one of the last passengers to board said plane.

Oops. Thank you, LCCT system. Thank you.

We finally left Malaysia about an hour later than planned, but yay at least we were on our way to Taiwan!

Flight was pretty uneventful and safe, thank you all that is great and holy. Got to Taipei Taoyuan Airport, however, and I lost a bit of my temper there as we queued up for Immigration again. See, our flight manage to coincide with a flight from China. So when we queued for Immigration, we were in the queue with a group of mostly Chinese middle-aged to senior citizens.

Which would have been fine and all, except that Poh Nee once again got separated with us in the queue, even though we were walking together in the first place. Would anyone like to take a gander, a guess at why we got separated? Anyone? Anyone at all?

I'LL TELL YOU WHY. 

You see, some of these middle-aged and senior citizens of China decided to cut the queue. The queue for IMMIGRATION, mind you.

Some of them just rudely brushed by Aeryn and me like they owned the dang lane / think they are thin as spaghetti.

Some of them decided to take the easy way out and duck underneath the separating tapes THAT ARE OBVIOUSLY IN PLACE TO KEEP PEOPLE IN LINE to join their compatriots behind Poh Nee. After watching two of them do this, I said loudly and angrily,

"EXCUSE ME." 

Six of them turned to look at me, before turning back to the front like I had not said anything in a huffy tone. I was obviously inquiring about the weather in a foreign language, then. I was pretty tempted to lambaste their non-civic behaviour in Mandarin (which I do speak, yes), but decided I didn't want to get into a fight, verbal or physical, at the airport.

Poh Nee in front was already forming her own barrier, pushing her hand-luggage as far as she could away from her so that it would create a wide obstacle. She said she could feel one particular lady following closely behind, trying to cut in front of her.

Aeryn and I? Well, we hooked arms, and then walked as much as we could towards the side while still holding on to each other - once again, creating a wide barrier. I also felt one or two people behind me, as well as saw from the corner of my eye the head of one such person bobbing along next to my shoulder trying to get past me.

Being hungry and tired did not help, either. It has been explained to me that it is a cultural and accepted thing in China to cut queues and shove ahead, but that does not make queue-cutting and shoving any less rude.

So we got out, and then we got a taxi (from a random person who popped up at the airport asking us if we wanted to take a taxi - I swear if it was Malaysia I would have ran the heck away if someone did that - but luckily it was a LEGIT taxi) towards Keiko's place all the way near Beitou.

April 18th was not much fun, to be honest, but at 1.30AM or so on April 19th, Keiko and her boyfriend took us to our first authentic Taiwanese meal - the lu rou rice! - in the wee hours of the morning.

Don't you just love places with food eateries that serve way past midnight (and is not McDonald's)?



This place is called 台南滷三塊  (Tai Nan Lu San Kuai). It opens from 5PM until early morning.

AWESOME.



According to Keiko's boyfriend, this is a popular drink in Taiwan, especially for kids. It's not bad, actualy, I was expecting much worse for Asparagus Juice.

The image, on the other hand.... was... not that much of an association with actual asparagus, don't you think?



Maybe it's because we're in another country, but I swear Taiwanese kangkung (water spinach) tastes a lot more delicious than Malaysian kangkung...



Behold, the lu rou fan. The lu rou fan is basically braised pork on rice. While simple and usually cheap (this dish costs about RM4), it is really... delicious. I love how the sauce from the braised pork melds into the rice. The sauce basically makes the rice tastes absolutely fantastic. The pork at this place is great, too - the tender meat quickly disappears after a few chomps.

By the way, I could be waxing lyrical because I was really hungry at that point in time. However, I do regret the slight fact that I didn't have the chance to go back and eat at this particular place again during my trip in Taiwan. Oh well. Guess it'll just remain a nice memory for now.



We were really hungry at that point in time. I had not eaten a proper meal for a full 12 hours at that point. I'm quite fond of the other pork dish, too - I believe it is the wu hua rou fan (Five Spice Pork Rice).

Sadly, perhaps due to not eating, my stomach reacted quickly to the sudden food nourishment and suddenly became painful. I did not even finish my bowl of rice, because my stomach was reacting pretty badly with gastric-like syndromes.

So kids, remember to eat before you board planes, and if need be, buy something to eat on the plane even if you're wildly overcharged. Sometimes it is a better price to pay than upset, angry tummies.

Went back to Keiko's place and konked out after showering. Pretty much slept until 10AM the next day, before we hit... WUFENPU.

That's for the next blog post, of course. ;)

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