May 14, 2006 - Sunday
Dayigwong, TW to Bangkok, Thailand

Today was a travel day. Felipe arranged a taxi for me to get to the airport in Makung where I would fly (about an hour) to Taipei's "domestic" airport. Felipe's home is the town of Dayigwong on the Penghu Islands which is southwest of mainland Taiwan. From there I took a bus to Taipei's "international" airport - TPE or Chaing-Kai Shek (CKS). I had some help for this bus trip too as when I was purchasing my ticket for the hop out of Makung a guy my age walked by and said "Good Morning, Sir" - he knew English...  We chatted while waiting for the same flight and he thought that my time frame might get a bit close should I not be able to get on a bus to CKS. He said he would help me with the bus arrangement, and if need be, drive me to CKS (about a 40 minute ride). Quite nice of him to offer.

In our conversation I asked where he learned English and he said he spent time in California - Silicon Valley. He used to be a circuit designer and now does product work - for graphics display chips - ATI and nVidia. I told him I do PC repair and that I quite likely have handled products that he was involved with the creation of.

Off of the first flight our bags were awaiting before we got to the belt - and it was a short walk from plane to belt. To have the bags there before the customers - this is perhaps a FIRST. He showed me the bus and I purchased the ticket and the bus left not but five minutes later. I now would have ample time to make the flight out of Taipei jumping over to Bangkok. Had he not been there I would have had some questions but the sign "Bus to CKS" was easy to see. Every little bit helps and I certainly appreciate it. I should have taken a photo with him though....

After the bus arrived at CKS it was an easy affair to find out where to go (assisted by my helper as he asked the driver which stop I should get off at for China Airlines - "second stop"). Since I had time I found something to eat and worked on some rail road day photos. The flight to Bangkok was un-eventful enough though I did take some photos. I noticed via the in-flight info screen that we would fly directly over the Penghu Islands. I was able to see the Makung harbor just slightly. There were some nice clouds too. We may have flown near the typhoon that is in the area - perhaps it was visible out the windows on the other side of the plane.

In BKK I exchanged some currency - US Dollars for Thailand Baht - about 36 Baht per 1 USD and processed through the "foreign passport" line - an easy stamp in the passport and I was through. The next detail was to get to a hotel - which one? I pulled out the Lonely Planet Thailand book and looked at the map but in the end I skipped it and went the "easy" route - over to the "hotel and taxi" counter. I paid more than if I went direct but not ridiculous and the service was worth it. Hotel (2 nights in Bangkok to start) and taxi I'm set for a full day. A "complimentary" tour of Bangkok is tomorrow at 2 pm with breakfast each morning included.

There is (and I hope it pans out as I wish) a "Computer City" across the street, Pantip Plaza. It doesn't look like the C-City stores in the US but I'm hoping to see what a digital camera would cost. The new Canon PowerShot A620 is having fits. It hasn't let me down on a photo but it is acting up. At first the camera would go full zoom, which is a bad thing with the wide angle lens adapter as the built-in lens would hit the wide angle lens. This has hurt the gears in the lens mechanism such that it doesn't fully retract and makes noise when doing so (but otherwise works - zooming and focusing to get good photos). The second issue is that the morning of the train trip to Alishan the LCD would not work. I would have to "flip out" the LCD so that it would turn on and then it's "orientation" mode was incorrect (things were upside down). I could live with it but it would be not so nice. Oddly - this LCD anomaly has disappeared and it now works as it should.

With things "supposedly" being "inexpensive" here I'll at least check out some camera options. I'm happy enough with the A620 as to get another one - the flip out LCD is getting use in places I would not expect.

Observations: Not as many bikes vs cars but they exist. Bikes drive between the lanes to get places easier/quicker than cars do (cars often sit for light change after light change). More manual shift bikes too vs automatic shift scooters. Much construction going on - large cranes erecting buildings is a common sight. Billboards - HUGE suckers - blot out the sun for a good portion of the day - with about 40% of them being "vacant" / ready to rent. Graffiti - I wonder if a gang's mark is written the same here as in other parts of the world? Tuk-Tuk's, three wheeled vehicles, motorcycle front end with a covered cart back end. They go as slow as the cars - not being able to go between them - and are not air conditioned. Bikes - if the road is really, really clogged - might ride on the sidewalk for a short distance.

Dancing in the park, Clouds from the airplane window
MPG, 3.5 MB, 50 seconds

The route for the day - Taipei at the north end of Taiwan in the top right - and very near Bangkok Thailand in the bottom left

Me and Felipe in front of his library

Makung airport lobby.

A good sign - the 9 am to Taipei - seats available

On the plane and ready to go. The military also uses this airport and the fighters were taking off and landing.

Taken from the bus window while moving between airports - the "motorcycle box" with painted bike symbol. At the light cars stay behind this box and bikes filter up and park here awaiting the light to change.

A bike up in the box

There was dancing in the park

Happy Dog!

Chaing-Kai Shek (TPE) airport

Now that's a deterrent

Flying over the Penghu Islands

Back over land - Vietnam or Cambodia

Some good clouds to look at

A Boeing 747 was used for this 4 hour flight. A movie was shown - a trapper up near Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Canada. Before and after the movie the screen showed BBC world news or some flight statistics (altitude, speed, outside air temp of -25 C / -13 F, time remaining, etc).

They sure look nice from this view - I wonder if they look mean on the bottom?

This one probably does

Big billboards. Most are of this "erector set" construction.

A fair bit of these visible around the city.

And unfortunately all too much of this

Out the balcony at the hotel - looking to the left

This is the Pantip Plaza, The Computer City. Five or six floors packed with computers and electronics.

Out the balcony looking to the right / west.

A room much larger and nicer than I need - but still appreciated. Approx 3900 Baht, with an exchange rate of about 37 Baht per 1 US Dollar, turns out to be $105 for the two nights.

Kitchen area (sink, cupboards, fridge, coffee maker - no microwave though). TV and big boom box. To the right of the TV is a work desk with an outlet for Internet access (that worked well!)

Spacious bath

Turn on the TV and it flips to Channel 1 - a live view of the front desk.

The main floor of the Pantip Plaza. I'd say this is about 12% of the available vendor space of the building.

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