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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

FINALLY out of Taiwan and home sweet home...

Boy does time fly!  It's been nearly two months since I made my last blog entry!  I guess I'm enjoying life in Paradise...yes, I am still here...I was only supposed to be here for a month but what'd you know? Still here.

The main reason for coming home was to watch our national premier on the Food Network! I was excited and nervous at the same time as none of us had seen the final product. The show came out well though considerably shorter than the 25 hours of production time it took to create the 6 minute spot last fall.  I was to leave soon after but somehow my stay here has been extended.  There were doctor appointments to go to, shots to be had (finally got Hepatitis B though I'm told that I should have gotten this long ago especially since I've been to China more than a half a dozen times!), and places to be!

So let's back up a bit, take it back two months...

During my final days in Taiwan, some memorable things that I did was check out KISS Wednesdays, the club event that Elroy, Annie and their company - Liquid Lifestyle Productions put together every Wednesday night at Club Luxy. 

Patrons drinking the bar dry @Luxy

Man, now I know why Elroy stays looking younger than me! They party like ROCKSTARS! It was a fun night and we closed the club down. Ended up eating at a really good restaurant conveniently located right behind the club and which operates 24 hours! I had the chicken based on Annie's recommendation and it was soooo good and cheap too! I think only $6! This girl, as tiny as she is, she knows her food! Sadly this photo that I'm attaching does not do it justice! I can't describe how moist and flavorful this chicken was! 

                     My very memorable chicken late night snack!

Restaurant Cha Ba (I think?)

I also made some spam musubis for my friends! This was something that I actually promised Dennis back in Beijing...for some reason, I never did make it for him? But this time, I made sure I did. Of course without the necessary tools, it was challenging but I made it happen! Dennis, Vicky and Austin all seemed to enjoy it?! Or at least that's what they said...I told Dennis, after he ate it, he'd be begging for more which is basically what happened!

Cut the SPAM can to make a mold for the spam musubis     The final product! Enough to share with Elroy and Annie too!
Finally on my last full day there, Vicky took me on a short day trip with Austin and her friend to Yangmingshan 陽明山. There we got to breathe in the beautiful sights of the city. At a higher elevation away from all the madness and pollution, the city looked so peaceful and green. Along with the great view, we also enjoyed a great lunch!

Okay, so although I'm working on making my blog more concise (I know, I know...I'm really working on making my entries shorter!) this is a story that needs to be told! So, you remember how I missed the Cebu Pacific flight, right (i.e. ticket #1)? Somehow confused 0140 for 1340 and showed up for my flight 12 hours later.
Had to reinstate my cancelled ticket (ticket #2) so that I could actually get out of the country to catch my flight from MNL to HNL and had to pay the $25 airport tax all over again! You're welcome Taoyuan International Airport! I paid you the $25 tax THREE times in a matter of 3 days!  So, I get to the airport on Friday, right? Everything fine and dandy...I am now using ticket #2 (if you're lost, please read 'Asia Tour with Two Tickets to the Philippines'). So I get there and what do I see? In big RED LETTERS:

CANCELLED! Seriously? Was this actually happening to me? First I miss my flight and then I am ready to leave (already staying a week longer in Taipei than I had planned) and my flight is cancelled! I telephone Sprirt of Manila Airlines. This is their answer: "oh yes, we were trying to contact you so you could have taken an earlier flight today but you did not leave us your contact information. So next flight is at 1:00AM (flight #1) is this okay for you?" First of all do I have a choice? My flight from MNL to HNL leaves on Monday and it is already Friday.  Secondly, you don't have my number? Are you kidding me? Well, I only have a thread of about 10 emails long going back and forth about my cancellation and reinstatement, and confirmation on whether I would need transportation to the airport. I was so frustrated! All I want to do is get to the Philippines!  My plan back in the Philippines was to meet up with my cave guide and see as many $3 movies as I could possibly squeeze in.  Now I'd only be able to watch a couple vs. the 10 or so that I had planned for.

Long story short, I ended up staying at the airport for another 12 hours to wait for the 0140 flight. All I can say is that *at least* they have free wi-fi. But really, probably one of the worst aiports to be left waiting in. There's like absolutely NOTHING to do! If it were Beijing Capital or Singapore, Malaysia, any of those I would surely keep myself busy for 12 hours but Taoyuan? All there was (well at least in the terminal I was in)...a book store, a gift shop and a Starbuck's. I'm really not a fan of the latter but at least I could indulge on something! It was really a joke. I suppose I could have gone back to Dennis and Vicky's but I felt so bad already having 'surprised' visited them a few days earlier when I misunderstood my departure time. Also, I was down to only 250NT ($8.00) would have actually been only 50NT ($1.50) if it wasn't for Elroy who felt sorry for me and didn't want me to get stuck. I was fine, I could have easily taken out money, I just didn't want to pay a $3.00 fee for money that I didn't think I needed.  Thanks to Elroy though, I had piece of mind but in the end, I got by with my 50NT!  

It was a painful 12 hours but I made it! Finally got on the plane and made it to MNL safely. Unfortunately, I arrived at 3:30AM! And of course didn't want to pay for a hotel for only half the night and more importantly, didn't think it would be safe for me to go out at that hour trying to find a place.  So, I slept at the airport. I must say, the seats at Ninoy Aquino International Airport are one of the best! I was able to have some shut eye for about 2 hours which was enough to get me through.

                              My sleeping quarters for tne night @Ninoy Aquino International Airport

When it was finally a decent hour, texted Erwin to let him know I was in...we were supposed to be meeting in Manila but the last contact I had with him was in Taiwan when I was trying to kill 12 hours at their airport. Come to find out, he got pick-pocketed and had no money to come to Manila. It was unfortunate that we weren't going to meet up again but I do think everything happens for a reason. So Erwin ended up turning around with whatever money he had left in his pocket and made it back home.

I spent the weekend in MNL seeing 3 movies and having lunch with my friend Rod on the last day.  Rod was the guy who helped me get in from Banaue to the Spirit of Manila office. He's the one that I thought I had $76 breakfast with (Batad and Beyond). I wanted to try and squeeze in one more movie but just ran out of time so instead enjoyed a 30 minute massage and a pedicure all for $15 before meeting up with Rod!

Rod also brought me back to the airport by his motorcycle!  I had two bags, my big backpack and I managed to ride on the back of his motorcycle. It was actually pretty awesome because we didn't have to sit in traffic and I got there for free!
                                                                                         My ride to the airport
When I got to the airport, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get inside as I noticed that they were checking tickets outside of the terminal.  I quickly tried to locate my e-ticket from Hawaiian Airlines and hoped that they would let me through with the email confirmation.  Thankfully they did! 

When I got in, I checked through and realized that since I had to wait in line for so long, I didn't really have much time and needed to make my way towards the gate.  On my way there, I saw a guy that looked like he had to be from Hawaii. He noticed my t-shirt and asked if THE Highway Inn was the one from Waipahu? Yes, I told him and turns out that he is also from Waipahu and of course, classmates with my uncle!  Our flight ended up being about an hour or so delayed so it was nice to have someone to chat with.

Finally made it back to Hawaii and now I'm trying to work on my Round The World (RTW) ticket. It's quite complicated as I am allowed a total of 16 segments and 4 segments per continent (6 for US) although I'm choosing 5 which makes it technically 20 segments if I were to use all 4 segments per continent.  So, I have to cut about 4 segments from some of the continents.  The other complication is that if there are no direct flights, a stopover would be counted as 2 segments even if I don't deplane.  So it's been quite challenging! I'm also trying to save money by purchasing my ticket in Hong Kong; by doing so I think I can save about $1,000 vs. buying in the US.  I also found out that I need to purchase the ticket within 21 days prior to departure which would make it that I have to purchase my ticket by Thursday, May 13, Hong Kong time.

The lowdown on my trip: I'm planning to start in Asia, then go to Africa, Europe, South America, North America...I'm also trying to go down south in Argentina to a place called Ushuaia (the southern most city in the world) and hear there are flights to Antarctica...I'm thinking I may as well go there too since I'll be so close!
I've also been working here and there to gain extra traveling money and trying to save money when I can. I also just bought a one way ticket from Honolulu to Hong Kong using my miles. Unfortunately, in an effort to save about $700, I have to depart for my RTW trip a week earlier than planned. That doesn't leave me much time!  So many things to do before I leave! One being that I have to buy a new netbook (for my blog!) and possibly a new camera.

Hopefully I can get everything done before I leave...

1 comment:

  1. This is terrific...Regina, I love the blog, your pictures and your comments. I look forward to your adventures around the world!! Have fun!!! Bring SPAM! Aloha,