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Taiwan - Day 1 - Taipei (Taipei Park Hotel)

The Reluctant Tourist & The ABC of Civil Aviation Aircrafts Makers

overcast 12 °C

I hadn't kept Atta's company for her last 4 business trips to Bangkok, Seoul, Osaka, and Jakata in the last 6 months. I gave Bangkok the flick
because I had been there 4 times since my early 20's. My excuse for not going to Seoul was the steep airfare, and the paucity of worthwhile sights in that city. Been there, done that (once is more than enough). As for Osaka, I didn't mind even if I had been there once. But Atta only stayed there for a few days. As for Jakarta, eh...never been there, but won't miss much. Just want to save the money for the next trip, which brings us to Taiwan. Of course, my award winning reason has always been that I'm too sick for these travelling shite (Atta knows that). But after turned down her 4 offers, I felt compelled - for political reason - to make it up to her for the Taiwan trip, which I had been, but she hadn't. What political reason? Because I don't want to be persecuted by her guilt trip. Nah...

This is the first time we caught a budget airline, Tiger Air, out of Singapore. The budget airlines have a priviledge of getting a separate terminal. It's a step down from the International Terminals, which was voted the best in world a few times (neck to neck with HKIA. It's a cut-throat competition, hence neck to neck). The top 3 airports in the world are all located in East Asia for the last decade or so (Singapore, HK, and Osaka in that order, more or less). Not surprisingly, Singapore and HK are Asia transportation gateways.

With budget airline, you get to walk on the tarmac and then onto a ladder. Ahhh...nothing quite like the fresh air that laced with jet fuel from the Rolls Royce engine to start your journey. Cruise ship has the loud horn blast, Tiger Air has the jet juel loaded air. It's a draw. As we walked the tarnac walk, Atta said that it appeared smaller than she remembered. Being a movie buff (look at the headings of some of my diary entries to convince yourself), I said to Atta in the Laurence Olivier impression in the "Marathon Man" where he was holding dentist drill in one hand, and whispers menacingly to Dustin Hoffman, "Is it safe? Is it?"
"It doesn't seem so. Is it safe?" Atta replied in her own voice. She doesn't do impression. She did long face.
I replied her in a Dirty Harry voice, "Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?"
At least I live to tell the tale. Go ahead. Make my day.
We forked out extra 30 SG bucks for the privilege of sitting in the first row, which has a lot more legrooms for us to swing a cat if we wanted to, and an unobstructed window view of the pretty Minah hostesses sitting vis-à-vis from us (Pardon, I meant sitting across from us. I thought I flew in A380). In B747 (we flew B767), they reserve those front-row seats for parents with baby prams, or people with special needs.

Let me touch briefly on the ABC of commercial aircraft. 'A' stands for Airbus - a French company with their star the super jumbo A380 (which I had the pleasure of flying last year, logged in my entry "Sydney - Day 1 - Touch Down"). 'B' stands for Boeing - a US company who makes the ever popular B747 jumbos that filled the skies. And then there's the third force in the civil aviation scene, a new kid on the block. Not yet, but soon. 'C' stands for COMAC (Commercial Aircraft Corp of China) - a Chinese company that going to debut its C919. So you wouldn't see this new kid flying into the blue yonder quite just yet. They're making them in the hangars right now and due for service in 2016. "Is it safe?" since it's made in China, you would ask that question. Well, all aircraft built would have to pass the safety regulations of the countries they sell to, in this case, the aircraft not only were sold to emerging economies like China and Brazil, USA airlines have also ordered their planes, which means these planes will have to pass US's safety standards (of course, as well as Chinese safety regulation first). And most of its parts are sourced from USA and Europe (of course, Airbus and Boeing also buy similar parts from these same companies). This ABC of aircraft makers make a nice triangular geographical symmetry: one in Europe, one in USA, and one in Asia. You hear it from here first.

Next time when someone mentions C919, you don't have say "C what?" in a totally confused tone of voice. Instead, you say confidently like you so well read (and well travelled), "I C". See? Si si.
This is one of the most dis-organised tour. This is because Atta didn't consult me in length, in fact, didn't ask me to do the research. In every previous trip, I headed the research dept while she managed the ticketing, and hotel reservation dept. This company works well. This time she detected my reluctance of going to this trip (probably judging by my constant whining, and head shaking), so she decided to adopt the shoot-first-and-ask-question-later tactic. A similar expression in Chinese is 先斩後奏 (behead first, then reports to the emperor). She booked everything before I can say "wait a cotton picking minute". Good one! It was a very effective tactic and infuriated this emperor with no clothes on to no end. Nah...

Actually, this feckless emperor did go to the NLB (Singapore National Library) and checked out some travel literature on Taiwan when she first mentioned her desire to go there. NLB doesn't seem to have many guide books on Taiwan. In fact, there was only one pathetic copy, while guidebooks in other destinations of East Asia is aplenty. There're a few copies in Chinese language, but it's a bit overkill to brush up on my Chinese now. I wanted to enjoy this trip. I came out of NLB empty handed - a rare occurrence. You can say that Taiwan isn't a hot destination, especially in winter.

I didn't have objection to the trip, just the destination. In fact, I had no objection to the destination, either. I only had problem

To read the rest of this article, go here...

Posted by FrancisQ 00:53 Archived in Taiwan

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