Late Night Flight
This year for Chinese New Year we will be in Taipei Taiwan. This is my second New Year in Taiwan and I am looking forward to it as I enjoy Taipei greatly and it will be a nice break from Shenzhen. We are going a bit early in order to give us time to take care of some things we need to do. Every year around this time travel in China becomes very congested as just about everyone is traveling home, I have seen it claimed that this is the single largest human migration in the world. To avoid complications, instead of flying straight from Shenzhen we have booked flights out of Hong Kong, the price is literally half that of a flight from the mainland 3400 RMB or around $525 US for both of us. Our flight leaves at 10:30 pm so we need to get to the border early in case of the almost certain delays. We will leave from Shenzhen bay to avoid having to carry our bags through customs especially important as I have packed my Cintiq in order to work while we are there.
. Taking the higher priced shuttle van is a must right now but in truth for Westerners its still quite a bargain our tickets cost us 150 RMB apiece or approximately $25 US well worth it for the convenience.
Our wait is a bit longer then usual due to congestion at the border but we eventually are loaded in and on our way to Hong Kong. Unfortunately due to the strange relationship between mainland China and Hong Kong just getting in the vehicle has little to do with how quickly you get anywhere. After loading, the driver takes everyone’s passports and cues us into the line to clear China border security. The majority of vehicles in line are other ” Limo ” service vans usually late model Toyota mini vans with dual licenses plates, Full size Busses and the occasional wealthy Hong Kong resident. Everyone has to cue and go through the security checkpoints on both sides; mainland China and then about 50 meters after that , Hong Kong. The border agents take their jobs seriously so its advisable to give yourself a wide margin on time. A note for Westerners if your passport photo doesn’t look exactly like you anymore expect to be questioned on it.
This time through we spend a full hour getting past the mainland Chinese only to wait another half hour for Hong Kong its quite possible we will miss our flight as we still have a good half hour to 45 min drive to the airport. Fanny and I discuss this in English which of course our driver being from Hong Kong understands. Spending any amount of time in China tends to instill in people the need to be a bit manipulative at times and this time its paying off as our driver is making good time.
Our driver did really well and although time is tight we will not miss our flight. The airport is actually not too bad but then again it is 9:30 at night. After checking in we grab a coffee and await our plane in a terminal I have not seen before. Hong Kong’s airport is really quite amazing and someday I hope to have the chance to spend some free time here just looking…
Our Flight leaves at 10:30 which means we will be getting in around midnight in Taipei. Strangely enough the flight is only about half full, this is probably due to the time and the fact that we are traveling a full 4 days ahead of the business men who work in Shenzhen but live in Taiwan. As you can see from the little flight map display Taiwan is actually quite close to the mainland something which makes their independence from China a loaded subject. The presidential elections are to be held very soon and the biggest challenge to the current leader of Taiwan is a female candidate who seems to want to take a much more hard line position with China, not sure if thats a good idea at the moment…
While in flight I read an interesting article about the lantern festivals that take place in Taiwan for New Years, I really want to see this sometime. This whole thing is really fascinating to me on a cultural level. I have never seen so many people fully commit to an event. The entire country and in fact most of Asia puts itself on hold for almost a full month. This is really amazing considering the current state of economics around the world. I have noticed closed shops in Lian Tang for the last week at least and at the same time you see long lines of people waiting to buy tickets home. In 2008 the number of travelers during the season exceeded China’s population at 2 billion I assume this means there will be even more now. The fact that so many people in China are now living and working far from their family homes makes for some serious congestion.
After arriving safely in Taiwan we make our way to the shuttle bus area which has recently been redesigned. One of the nice features of Taiwan is an abundance of cheap and convenient transport options. We will be traveling to Taipei on a shuttle service run by the airport and I assume subsidized by the government. The service is quite nice and at 150 NT or $5 US just you cant beat it.
The waiting area is relatively empty due to the time. Its right at midnight but the busses are still running. These girls are enjoying a quick game of something while they wait.
I really enjoyed the design in here, the low ceilings and stone columns make me think of a Stanley Kubrick film
A view from outside shows more of this design sense. Taipei’s airport is currently undergoing a great deal of new construction should be interesting to see it when completed.
I really am happy to have my panasonic camera back in action the digital zoom works well especially considering the low lighting…
The buses are quite good, comfortable and spacious this one doesn’t show it but many of them are lit up like mobile christmas trees with neon and led lights. I am not sure why this is but it makes for cool visuals and its something I am getting accustomed to the longer I stay in Asia.
We have to wait for awhile longer as this will be the last bus tonight and will be full of passengers and airport employees. The man standing in the aisle here is one of the employees off from his shift and seemed quite friendly and talkative. This is another thing I really appreciate about Taiwan, the people here are very polite and approachable in sharp contrast to the mainland Chinese.
The trip to Taipei will take almost an hour which makes this comfortable bus very welcome to the weary traveler.
These are some pics I took from the bus, I love Taipei at night there is something magical about it, a perfect place for me as I tend to be a night owl anyway…
Tomorrow we must get up early as there are many things we want to accomplish while here and with New Year fast approaching we will not have any time to waste.