April 27, 2006 - Thursday
Rockford, Illinois, U.S.A. to Taipei, Taiwan

[text composed May 2] For the past three days or so I have been adjusting my body clock to Taiwan's time - figure 12 hours - a full shift change - a world away. When you're awake at 3 pm just switch the "pm" to "am" and that is the adjustment I wanted to make. Since the first airplane would leave O`Hare at 11:21 am my body would be at 11:21 pm time. Hopefully I will be able to sleep on this first flight (I didn't - I enjoyed the views with photos for you to see as well). The second plane, the big jump from Los Angeles to Taipei, would be a mix of awake hours and sleep hours.

This second flight ended up being better than I expected. I expected being on a full flight, stuck in a cramped row, little to do, and uncomfortable for most of the flight. Not so! The flight ended up being about 30 or 40% of capacity so there were plenty of empty seats about (to set "stuff" next to you - books, etc). Some people made use of this and had three or four seats to lay down on and easily sleep. Each seat came with a pillow and blanket. This meant if you had an empty seat next to you there may well be an extra pillow and blanket available - nice. I had two pillows and one blanket and the lady two seats over had two blankets and one pillow.

At check-in I asked for any bulkhead or fire exit seat so that I could have some space in front of me to stretch my legs and also to be able to get up and out without disturbing my seat neighbors. I ended up with a fire exit seat (38G on this Boeing 747-400). Right side of the plane just over the wing. The washrooms were a bit close but since the flight was reasonably empty there wasn't much activity.

Since I was flying economy I didn't expect much with respect to TV or laptop power. I was nicely surprised here too. In addition to having some screens placed where all people could see them (bulkhead row screens) each seat had its own monitor. Most were mounted in the back of the forward seat but since my row did not have seats directly in front ours were mounted on an arm that would swing from down by the floor to in front of the seat - swiveling to adjust for the desired viewing angle. In the right side of the seat's armrest was a control unit - just pull it out to work the overhead light, attendant call, TV shows, Music, Games, Telephone, Interactive screens.

We had two full meals - nicely prepared and presented with more detail than I expected on an airplane that is concerned with carrying un-needed "weight". In addition to the two meals (I didn't take pictures of the meals - though the camera was sitting on the seat next to me the whole time) we had at least one snack run and two drink runs (apple, orange, tomato juice).

The crew seemed to be "in charge" of the window shades as not far after we took off they were pulled down (I took a nap as it was about 7 am body time and I was "up all night"). This confused my mind a bit - Is it night? Is it day? Should I be trying to sleep? While I did bobble with the thought for a moment I didn't let it get to me.

Arriving in Taipei at 8:40 pm I kind of expected to see some daylight - not to be. Most of the past 23 hours or so had been "with the sun". The airport had enough English text or symbols in their signs that moving about was easy enough. "Follow the crowd" also worked - baggage claim - and the carts that most people were getting were easy signs (the airport does not charge for baggage carts).

With a chuckle in my throat (things being similar to "home") the baggage was last minute routed from the posted carrousel #1 to #2. Some words, that I didn't understand, between two workers and an impromptu "announcement" was made - move over to #2. I followed the crowd.

Felipe and a student of his, Tom, met me at the airport shortly later. Before we met, though, I had time to think: What would I do if we should not meet up? Find a place to stay and find a way to get there - not having easy communication. Thankfully my entry into a world where I don't know the language is being aided by a friend.

We boarded a bus for the near hour ride to Taipei. Off the bus we took a taxi and I had the joy of seeing how traffic works - a bit of a free for all - but there is a general idea of order. Things weren't out of hand crazy. I started to count the "7 Eleven's" - way too many - one per block almost. Fortunately not many McDonald's. Dropped at the "Teachers Youth Hostel" we left bags in the room and went out for something to eat. Felipe and Tom found a street vendor that was acceptable to their level of cleanliness and we ate.

Chopsticks.... Not many chances in my life have I used them - two or three times - maybe...  Here we go. A bit awkward but I didn't starve. Before long we were back at the hostel and heading to sleep.

Another "I guess I'm going moment" - I'm here at the airport waiting to get onto the first airplane (the other "I guess I'm going moment" is when I _purchased_ the airplane tickets). Flight #1 - O'Scare (ORD) to Los Angeles (LAX).

Rocky Mountains - Front range. Over Denver looking North.

US-40 between Winter Park, CO (to the north) and Interstate 70 just to the south. A scenic ride.

Gateway Colorado.  Colorado State Route 141 coming in from the right, making a left turn at Gateway exiting to the bottom. The Palisade visible to the top right of Gateway. Ken and I rode through this area twice before on a prior Colorado trip. Photos and such here: Day 1, Day 2

Gateway, CO

The Palisade

Hmmm - the Colorado River north of Moab Utah (Utah State Route 128). Again, Ken and I traveled this road.... It was a nice, scenic ride - good memories. This is also shown on the "Day 2" link from above.

The entrance to Arches National Park - just west of Moab. A bit of a "trust me" photo as the roads are difficult to see. Look in the bottom left of the photo and you can see a darker road going northwest - this is the highway extending north out of Moab. About an inch up in the photo is a road that extends east from left to right - this is the park road. I do not think any of the "arches" are visible in this photo - I think they are out of the picture to the top and top right (they probably wouldn't be visible anyway).

Moab, Utah with the Colorado River flowing from right to left.

The Potash ponds southwest of Moab

Utah Route 313 riding through Dead Horse Point State Park. I visited this park some years back when my younger brother, Tom, moved out to California. Trip report

I think this is the Grand Mesa (a bit difficult to make out). Listed as the World's Largest Flat Top mountain. If you care - here are some summertime (the summertime is the same as "Day 1" from above) and wintertime photos - set 1 and set 2.

Here's a bit of a closer view. You can make out the erosion edge and the drop off.

I'm now in Los Angeles awaiting the second flight - China Airlines. Boeing 747-400.

Yep, all four engines accounted for - let's go!

I had an exit row seat. The plane was perhaps 30 to 40% filled. Some people in the center row of four seats had all four to themselves - they were able to lay across all four and sleep. Each seat had its own monitor (most were built into the seat backs but since I didn't have a seat in front of me mine was on a pivoting arm). The control was multi functional: remote mode, game play mode (hold it sideways), flip over for telephone use. One guy, whenever I noticed, was at his laptop keyboard. It seemed he worked at it the whole flight (14+ hours).

There were 50+ channels of video to watch and several channels of audio. I did flip through the channels once and stopped to watch one of the "Matrix" movies (I think it was the third one). The other channels / features I spent time were the flight data and cameras. Flight data included stats and maps. The camera's included one that looked straight down and one that looked ahead (useful when taxiing about the airport).

Heading north/northwest somewhere in central California.

MPG, 17 sec, 1.1MB
Down looking camera - flying over central California - trees, road

A shot of one of the flight data screens - multi-language.

Camera looking down - trees and snow.

Say'n "Hi" to Dr. Gil and Beck-Zuki

It's darn cold outside. I think I did see -51 c at one point (it was in the -40's c for most of the trip).

Baggage Claim - Taipai (TPE) airport. Alternatively called CKS for Chaing Kai-shek - a respected leader.

Felipe and one of his students, Tom. They were in Taipei on a business trip. We had checked into the "Teacher's Hostel" a few blocks away and then went walking looking for some dinner. I had some noodles and beef.

Scooters, scooters, scooters. They line (park on) the sidewalks. This was a larger model. There are virtually NO bikes over about 125cc in size - due to the expensive import / registration duties imposed by the government. The vast majority are the smaller "step through" designs - the Police even use the smaller "step thru's".

A typical line-up! Note the four red boxed scooters near the end of the line - Pizza Hut delivery scooters. It is AMAZING what one finds traveling down the road on these scooters - multiple people, animals, ladders, one had (4) decent sized propane tanks strapped on the back (propane delivery).

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