Taiwan Travel Guide
If you’ve ever lost something on vacation you know that it can be quite the bummer. Doesn’t matter if it’s a cell phone charger or just a shirt left behind in the hotel closet—still sucks. Usually we just suck it up and move on, but in the future—besides keeping a better eye on our stuff—we might just try to be a little more optimistic.
In the feel good story of the week a woman’s camera that was lost on a scuba trip over in Hawaii a few years back was recently found, and after a little internet research it was linked back to her. Amazingly things still appear to be in decent shape, and the memory card has held onto those underwater photos for the last few years.
Airline News / Business Class Travel / Taiwan Travel / Taipei Travel / TPE / New York City / JFK / Seats / EVA Air / → All Tags
New and improved business class seats seems to be a thing this year among airlines, and Taiwan-based EVA Air is next up, revamping their premium cabin and announcing that it'll be coming to US shores firstto New York, specifically.
As a complete service overhaul, EVA re-named business to Royal Laurel Class and will now offer a fully lie-flat seat to stretch your legs on the 16+ hour non-stop from JFK to Taipei. New modern seats, upgraded menus and increased entertainment and comfort are all part of the spruce-up.
Weird Travel / Taipei Travel / TPE / Airport News / Airports / Taiwan Travel / → All Tags
Watching the movie "The Terminal" or reading the Alain de Botton book A Week at the Airport can make you have crazy ideas, like perhaps that living in an airport for a period of time would be awesome. Tom Hanks kind of finds romance, de Botton eats a ton of room service and listens to the melodramatic life stories of travelers passing through Heathrow's Terminal 5; it all seems so nice and easy.
This week however, those daydreaming about living at an airport got a wakeup call when a Japanese man was found to be doing just that in Taipei International Airport, after running out of money and overstaying his visa. Masaaki Tanaka subsisted on soy sauce and wasabi packets while searching the airport floor for loose change. Hmmnot so glamorous.
After a punishing weekend of pummeling rain, landslides, flooding, and collapsing houses, Taiwan and The Philippines are licking their wounds and counting the dead resulting from being hit by Typhoon Morakot.
The collapsed six-story Taiwan hotel in the picture above, whose 300 guests were all successfully evacuated, ended up collapsing into the floor waters, and it's no wonder with some southern cities getting dumped on by over 80 inches of rain. Before Morakotwhich means "Emerald" in Thai made landfall on Taiwan, it first killed 21 people in The Philippines. Among the dead were two Belgian tourists and a French tourist.
Airport sit-ins are the new asking for your money back, apparently, as the second one occurred within the span of days. While two separate, problem-plagued flights were affected by the passenger sit-ins, no doubt the most recent was influenced by the success of the first.
The first, occurring for a few days at the beginning of June, involved a triple-delayed China Eastern Airlines flights on its way from LAX to Shanghai. After the airline flew in a mechanic, the flight was finally able to leave, but not before the stranded folk staged a sit-in at LAX.
This weekend, the second occurred on the other end of the route back in Shanghai, when a Shanghai Airlines plane headed back to Shanghai, delaying the flight for 24 hours. When finally the plane landed in Taipei, Taiwan, the passengers refused to leave the jet until Taiwanese authorities "persuaded" them to do so, but not without the airline ponying up a 400RMB ($58) "we're sorry" bonus.
So it looks like sit-ins are here to stay; a viable option since airlines already have us on involuntary hunger strikes.
· Shanghai Airlines Passengers Stage Sit-in in Taiwan [Shanghaiist]
· Shanghai-Bound Passengers Stranded For Three Days at LAX [Jaunted]
We've just heard about an island in the Taiwanese county of Penghu that we want to visit: but it's occupied by a four-year-old boy until September, so we'll have to wait our turn.
In a national lottery, the kid won the exclusive right to visit the island, with up to seven family members, for five months this year. It'll be their very own private tropical island, full of white beaches and clear water, they say, and although it's totally uninhabited it does have running water, electricity and a cabin.
There are 64 islands in Penghu, so there's probably still room for us. They lie off the west coast of Taiwan, towards China, but since Taiwan and China have become friendlier recently we figure it's no cause for concern. And how many worries can you have while chilling out on a white sandy beach, anyway.
Late in 2008, St. Louis was rejoicing that Jason Reitman and George Clooney would be crawling all over the city to shoot the new flick "Up in the Air." But rather than wait for producers to notice them, officials in Taipei are straight up financing a feature film, which will start shooting this spring.
Reports the Taiwan Journal:
The film follows two sisters who move to Taipei and open a coffee shop, with the metropolis serving as a backdrop to their relationships with customers and friends, as well as their love stories.
The film will take viewers around the city's most famous tourist spots such as the Tong Hua night market, Nan Men traditional market, Taipei Zoo, which will soon be housing two pandas, Maokong--an area on the outskirts of Taipei known for its tea plantations and tea houses--and will also take them for a ride on the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit System, the city's subway.
While it could be an early contender for the best travel movie of 2009--producer Hou Hsiao-hsien is an international film festival veteran--Emily Haile of the travel blog The Telegraph wonders if it will be more "extended commercial" than cinematic success because of the city's intimate involvement.
Yep, instead of having to fly through Hong Kong airspace (and usually change planes), travelers will be able to make the short hop from China to nearby, related-in-a-complicated-way Taiwan. In Taiwan they're expecting a massive wave of Chinese tourists and the Chinese seem to think this is a clever way to get Taiwan politically closer.
Far be it from us to figure out how to say anything diplomatically about the power struggle going on there. We're just pleased we won't need to go to all the trouble of sailing a paper boat across the Taiwan Strait. Even a dodgy China Airlines flight would be better than that.
· Ban on Travel Between Taiwan and China Ends [Telegraph]
· Gateway to Taiwan: New Agreement Would Allow Direct Flights [Jaunted]
· Great Seas, Small Boats Travel: Crossing the Taiwan Strait [Jaunted]
· China Airlines Flight Hits Turbulence, New Low [Jaunted]
Two weeks ago, this Jaunted writer flew from San Francisco to Phnom Penh, Cambodia on China Airlines. Under the impression that international carriers are generally superior to domestics, she felt duped when her stained, rigid seat and minuscule meal made her feel like she was flying to Cleveland via Delta circa 1997.
Ever been to Taiwan? We have, but apparently not enough tourists do get there, so Taipei County has decided to create a "coastal amusement resort" similar to the waterfront of Dubai. There'll be restaurants, gardens, hotels and miscellaneous skyscrapers. Developers plan to spend about T$10 billion (more than $300 million) but take just three years to build.
According to spokesperson Chou Hsi-wei:
It's bigger than Disneyland, a lot bigger. It's a huge, huge place. Only like this can you get international tourists to come.
Um, really? Maybe promoting some interesting local culture or highlighting something unique to Taiwan could work too. Couldn't it?
Architecture / Skyscrapers / Buildings / Videos / → All Tags
These days, mega-skyscrapers have balls. Huge balls, up in their attic spaces, designed to swing back and forth in the opposite direction of the building's sway. These tuned mass dampers, as they're known, prevent the feeling of seasickness by occupants of the upper floors, but their real benefit comes during times of natural disasters, like tornadoes, typhoons and earthquakes.
Such was the case recently with the world's tallest completed building, Taipei 101, which felt aftershocks from the devastating 7.9 magnitude earthquake that hit China's Sichuan region on May 12 of this year. As it happens, a traveler with a video camera was enjoying a tour of the building and was wandering past the 728-ton stabilizing ball when the aftershocks hit, capturing this amazing video of the damper doing exactly what it was designed to do.
The iconic tower emerged unscathed, and nobody was injured, which both speaks to the amazing advances in architectural technology and the unspeakable devastation that results when builders lack the means--and scruples--to ensure that every building holds up against the forces of nature as well as possible.
· In Action: A Skyscraper's Amazing 728-Ton Stabilising Ball [Deputy Dog]
· Skyscrapers coverage [Jaunted]
Taiwan's Ma Ying-jeou won't take office until next Tuesday, but the president-elect has already gotten busy trying to solidify a deal that will allow regular direct flights from the Chinese mainland. Talk of the agreement is creating a buzz on the island nation--er, territory?--as its citizens anticipate a massive influx of new tourists.
Ma has so far only committed to expanding weekend charter flights by this July, but has said he hopes to have regularly scheduled flights by the end of this year.
Taiwan first banned direct flights between China when the mainland came under Communist rule in 1949, largely over sovereignty concerns. Direct charter flights resumed under a 2006 agreement, according to the International Herald Tribune, but have only been allowed during major holidays.