So it has officially begun. This trip that we have been eagerly anticipating for what seems to be years now. No more jumping through hoops, no more scrimping and saving, no more tiresome paperwork, no more planning and preparing, and most importantly- no backing out now.
There we sat nervously, at the Halifax airport, baggage in tow and the Merlins at our side. We had already said our goodbyes to everyone else, and had just finished our final meal before our journey. We then sadly went our seperate ways, and made our way to the boarding gate.
Once there, we were advised that our flight had been delayed 20 mins, no big deal. We then proceeded to board the plane and make our way down the runway, where we had stopped and were advised by the captain of further delays at JFK in New York. Apparantly NY was experiencing T-storms and due to construction there were only 2 lanes open instead of 4, so JFK was backed up and we had to wait 50 mins to take off. Now this wouldnt be that bad, except for that the plane we were on was a 3 seater, 10 aisles long, and no room to stand up straight without bumping your head. And as always, the plane came complete with a screaming colicy newborn 2 seats up from us.
Finally we were given clearance and arrived in JFK about 1 1/2 hrs later. After much confusion about where to go, we made it to customs, along with the other 21 planes that had also just landed there. The scene there was horrifying, 1500 bodies hearded in a the longest line-up i'd ever seen, in a small, non-air conditioned area. It took us 2 hrs to navigate through that line, neck in neck with hot and sweaty strangers. We were sweating profusely, and there were actually people passing out from the heat and exhaustion of carrying too many bags. We originally had a 6 hr stopover there, but that quickly dwindled. Once we did get to the gate, we had about an hr to wait. There was nothing open, no vending machines and no water.
The plane we were about to board was operated by China Air, a jumbo double decker jet with 2 levels and a lounge. We were happy to learn that there were tv's on the backs of all the seats that played all the recent movies for free and had pre-recorded tv shows like the Simpsons, etc. The rows across were 3, 4, and 3, and aboout 50 rows back. The 7.5 hr flight to Anchorage, Alaska went quite smoothly, save for some minor turbulence. It turned out we were allowed off the plane there in the 1.5 hrs while it re-fueled, which was a welcome oppertunity to stretch our cramped legs. We were finally able to get bottled water there, a great deal at $10 US for four. The airline wouldnt sell us any water, and their tap water tasted like swamp water.
Once again we board the plane for the 9.5 hrs to Taipei. Another long stretch with minor and frequent turbulence over the water. We woke up at 5:45am local time to the captain announcing our near arrival and current local temperature of 28 degrees and clear skys. NICE!!!!!!!!
The experience in the airport however, was not as pleasant. We were soon to learn that only 1 of our 4 checked bags had arrived with us. It would seem that they had lost most of our luggage.
After much emotion and hesitation, we left the airport almost bagless, and boarded the comfy bus for a 4 hr ride to Tainan. The views were foriegn and tropical. There were tons of rice fields and palm trees to be seen. We had to change buses once, but boy was i glad we did. This last bus had comsisted of nothing but big leather reclining lazy-boys, equipped with tv's, nintendo, and in-chair massagers. Heaven compared to the last 2 days.
We arrived in Tainan at about 12:30pm local time, to a massive parking lot filled with screaming cabbies and mounds of parked scooters. At last, we finally made it!!!!!!!