Taiwan Day 1 and 2: The Pilot Episode - Sept. 1 and Sept. 2, 2013 | Travel in Asia

Monday, September 2, 2013

Taiwan Day 1 and 2: The Pilot Episode - Sept. 1 and Sept. 2, 2013


It was a hot Sunday on September 1, 2013. My family was busy packing our things in our house that we were renting in Quezon City.  My parents and siblings were moving to another place while I would soon leave the Philippines for another country.  To Taiwan!  The plan was simple. Transport all our belongings to our new home in Montalban, Rizal and my mother and father would come back to accompany me to Clark Airport Lounge which is located in Trinoma Mall.  My father would just drive his taxi so the doing these tasks were a bit easy.  I was the one paying the house rent.  Since I would be going abroad and no one would pay the bill anymore, my parents just decided to live in Rizal province. 

at Clark Airport Lounge

My main luggage weighed 31 kilos and my father helped me carried my stuff and put it in the compartment at the back of the car.   One of our neighbors saw us and even giggled at a joke. “Uy! Pupuntang Dubai!”.  They taught I was going to work abroad. Haha! In a matter of hours,  my life would change forever.   The Clark Airport Lounge serves as a bus station for people going to the international airport outside Manila.  My parents looked cool when they left me in Trinoma Mall but I know deep inside their hearts that they were sad, because they won't see their eldest son for five years.  My mama and papa were holding back their tears as they leave the place.

The toll gates at the expressway leading to Clark, Pampanga

Mt. Arayat as seen from the bus window

At 3:00 pm the bus going to Clark International Airport started its journey.   I have enjoyed the view of Mt. Arayat as the bus passed through the Pampanga province. At 5:00pm I have reached the airport. It was not my first time in this airport and I even enjoyed watching the television in the departure hall.   At the immigration, the female officer asked me “Ano pong gagawin nyo sa Hong Kong?”. I replied that I would not be going to Hong Kong rather I would be going to Taiwan. A short interview with the immigration officer and I'm ok. Air Asia Philippines flight PQ 7357 lifted off at 8:35 pm and flew over Luzon island and the Bashi Channel. 

walking towards the airplane

Clark International Airport became smaller and smaller as the tiny lights from houses look scattered at the darkness of the night....  Until there was nothing to see outside the window.  At around 10:00 pm,  I saw yellow colored lights.  It was like I was looking at a sea of stars and it was so fascinating. I knew that I was already in Taiwan while still high above the clouds.  "What would happen to me in the future?", I asked myself until an announcement woke up all of the passengers.  It was a Chinese message and I didn't understand what was it all about. But I have a hunch that the message was about telling the people that the airplane already entered the territory of Taiwan.  After a few seconds, the captain spoke to us in English and we are told about how many minutes till we reached Taoyuan International Airport.   

The very first photo that I took in Taiwan

at the Arrival Hall in Taoyuan International Airport

The plane landed at Terminal 2.  Just like what I did at Hong Kong International Airport I just followed the signs to get to the Immigration.  The queue was very long. When I was my turn, the officer asked me, “How long are you going to study here?”.  I replied, “3 to 5 years”. Then I heard the sound of the stamp marking my single resident visa as “Used”.

It was a funny experience when I reached the Arrival Hall. There were a lot of locals waiting for their loved ones and it was a very large crowd. Some have placards with Chinese characters written on it. Others were even carrying flags.  They looked so excited to see their relatives. Oh! They were looking at me!  It was an awkward moment that I tried not to look at their faces to just stop myself from laughing.

at Nangang Exhibition Center

MRT Nangang Exhibition Center Brown Line

at the dorm

I have a spacious table and a comfortable chair.  I never had this in the Philippines.

To get to the student dormitory of the Taiwan International Graduate Program (TIGP),  I boarded the bus going to Nangang Exhibition Center then transferred to a taxi.  It was already 1:00 am when I reached the dorm. I was really hungry at that time but I decided to just sleep and eat in the morning.    I woke up at 3:00 am because my stomach really needed something to digest. I asked the guard if there is any 7-eleven near the dorm and he said that the nearest one is a Family Mart store. So I went outside to buy something.  

I was not wearing any jacket until the cold wind blew.  For the first time, I felt the cool climate of Taiwan.  At Family Mart, I was able to buy an instant noodle and the next thing that I needed was hot water.  Back in the dorm, I pressed the hot water button in the water dispenser but no hot water was coming out of the tube.  I didn't know that I have to press the unlock button to release the boiling liquid.  And after figuring it out, only a small amount of hot water was released.  Sigh! I noticed that the water was being boiled again inside. I don't want to wait anymore since I was already hungry so I just press the cold water button to have sufficient amount of soup for my noodles. The first food that I ate from a convenient store in Taiwan was instant noodles soaked in a bowl of cold water.  Haha!

The campus of Academia Sinica

The following morning,  I wandered around the campus of Academia Sinica.  Taiwan's highest institute of scientific learning, humanities and social research will be my new home as I embarked on a wonderful journey towards obtaining a Ph.D. degree.  The brightest people around the world come here to do world-changing studies.  Were they also excited like me?  I guessed they do.  It was a good start on Taiwan Day 1 and 2: The Pilot Episode.

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The "Taipei kong mahal" (My beloved Taipei) travel series will return on October 3. ;)

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