Culture Shock

Sunday July 29, 2018
Matthew Henderson

Taipei night market

We left LA about 4:30pm on a 777-300er. Our flight chasing the sun was a good one. It’s hard to describe what is felt like passing that much time on a plane. I had tried preparing myself for the past week, but in the end it passed just fine.

We landed in Taipei at 8:25pm, but it’s plus one day in the calendar coming this direction. We had 10 hours to pass here and no hotel, so we decided to go through immigration, get a stamp in our passports and see the city (we didn’t use our travel funds for this night). We navigated the metro system from the airport to Taipei proper, managing to exchange currency, and figure out the system with not much problem. The people here have been very friendly and eager to help — although the language barrier for the most part has made interactions difficult. One person cleaning sidewalks on the street level of the Taipei main station is one of our new friends here. Though we couldn’t explain what we needed, he was able to help point us on our right way to the next metro station on a map.

We made our way to the Raohe Night Market to see the sights there, but the smells were the biggest cultural shock for me. Stinky Tofu is potent in a humid area enclosed that small. We only had a short time there if we didn’t want to miss the last train back to the main terminal. There, we caught a taxi back to the airport. Our China Airlines boarding pass didn’t help much in explaining to them our intended destination. But, with about four helpers and the four of us, we were finally able to get it nailed down and on our way. The taxi ride was as good as any Six Flags ride, but being as tired as we were with basically no sleep for the previous 36 hours, our level of care was a little less than normal you could say.

Safely back at the airport, we made our way back through customs and tried to make the best of our situation on the sofas near our terminal. The only people in sight for a quarter mile down the hallways here, we wrapped ourselves around our bags and dared to venture off into a small round of sleep. We all woke up after about an hour, but I felt certain before I looked that it had been about four. So, that was a hard sleep from 3am to 4am.

We feel awake, but I know we are tired. Bryan and I agreed that it did actually feel like 4am when it was so perhaps we will be able to flip our days from here. We all feel like we are moving when sitting still. Luke tried to drink a Coca Cola backwards, and Jake almost put the lightening adapter in his ear instead of the earbud. We might be overdone, but we are buzzing with excitement still.

And now, an hour and a half later, the airport is bustling with life, and the team is waiting to board our next plane in the next 45 minutes for Manilla to receive the hugs we’ve been expecting at Terminal 2 there. And I have one to deliver from Margie as well.

Taipei streets

Taipei night market

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