The thing they say is, ďplan early!Ē And I always try to but it never works outÖIím talking about all my traveling trips of course. I usually know when my breaks are so I know when I can travel but at the same time, when I have time off it is also when airfare prices are relatively high. This past winter break was a nuisance to plan out because of the concern of bird influenza in the South-Eastern Asian countries. Originally, I was planning on going to Vietnam with some of my fellow American friends here in Japan but it all started back in October when my mom brought the Bird Flu to my attention and that maybe I shouldnít go there. Then my cousin in Taiwan brought it to my attention that the Flu might become an epidemic and blow up around the time I plan to visit. Vietnam was also the country leading in number of deaths from bird flu did not help either. Finally, in November when I finally thought that I wouldnít enjoy Vietnam if I had all these hesitation about going and also spending as much as $800 just to get there, forget it. But I was not going to freeze my ass off in Japan so I turned to my backup place to visit, Taiwan!
Yeah yeah, Iíve been to Taiwan so many times these past two years itís probably no longer interesting for me to mention but this time it was different. One of my friends ask me why I always go to Taiwan, I already been there donít I want to go somewhere new? Well, I do and I donít. Going somewhere new takes a lot more work researching, planning out where to visit, stay and all that jazz. With Taiwan, itís truly relaxing vacation because I have no expectations to see or visit anything and also once I get to Taiwan, finances are ALL taken care of for me. That is a BIG plus! From start to end nothing is stressing me out. The only thing that stressed me out was buying the airfare to get there and since I got it so late in November, I paid around US $700 for a 3 hour plane ride when the cheapest airfare could be as cheap as $300-400.
Anyway, I flew for Taiwan on Xmas day! Present for myself I guess. I get to the airport a little early not because I want to beat the lines but for another reason youíll probably see it as trivial anyway. Since Iíve been flying Taiwan quite often with China Airline recently, I am now a gold member with their flyerís mileage club. That means I get to check-in in the first class line where thereís hardly any people, and my luggage get to come out with the first class passengers even though I purchased an economy seat. I also get to use the VIP lounge and thatís why I come a little early. I want to be well relaxed before I board the plane..hahahaÖAND I get to board the airplane first. Does it sound like Iím talking with my nose in the air hehe? Anyway, I like to chill in the lounge because I like to sit down, grab a bite to eat and have myself a cup of beer. Then maybe 10 mins. before I board, I use one of those massage chairs. I find myself enjoying massages more and more! Anyway, I prepare to board and as I hand them my boarding pass, they give me a new one that says ďBusiness Class.Ē Oh yeah, thatís the other perk, when the economy is full or people on waitlist for the economy seats, I get upgraded! Bigger seats and order from a menu for my meal, SURE Iíll take it!
This Taiwan trip was a little different because it was a two part trip. I was also going to Hong Kong from Taiwan (only an hr. and a half plane ride) with my cousins. Although short noticed, my brother from LA and my best bud the English teacher in South Korea also met up with me in Taiwan. It was my friendís first time and I donít think he had much expectations or didnít know what to expect about Taiwan. He did enjoy getting me riled up saying isnít Taiwan China? Isnít Taiwan Communist? And if you donít know they arenít! Anyway, he asked what we were going to do in Taiwan and I told him not much, just eat and eat and sleep and MAYBE a little sight seeing and then eat again. He thought I was kidding, I wasnít! God, I had so much time eating 4 to 5 time a day. I was also playing tour guide so I was like, ďoh, we need to try this, oh we need to try that.Ē It may seem like I want to show him the best of Taiwanese cuisine, which is true, but at the same time, it was another excuse for me to eat everything. Can you say you had so much FUN eating so MUCH food?!! Itís not super cheap but itís quite inexpensive I might say so myself! So it was an eating fiasco, and sure, we went to two memorials and watched two Chinese movies! Thatís enough sightseeing. My friend said that Taiwan was better than he expected. Definitely WARMER than he expected. It was 18 deg. Celsius in Taiwan when it was 7 deg. Celsius in Japan! He also said that the variety of cars, the ads, all these American movies and English subtitles for the Chinese movies reminded him of little America. I guess I never thought it that way, maybe thatís why Iím so comfortable with Taiwan.
We then moved on to Hong Kong. We continued our eating fiasco. It was a blast I tell you! My impression of Hong Kong in 3 words. Narrow, Busy, Beautiful night scenary. Okay that was more like 5 words! The whole time I was there, I didnít carry Hong Kong dollar with me. I was always with my cousins when we ate and shop so they held on to the money and took care of the bill every time. Hong Kong was colder but not too bad. There were more foreigners in Hong Kong than there was in Taiwan though. Food was great but it was more expensive than Taiwan. I think almost as expensive as eating in America but still cheaper than Japan. Streets were narrower and lots of traffic with buses also narrower but, taller. One thing that was familiar to me was the traffic direction was the same as it was in Japan. Steering wheel on the right side and they drive on the left side. Iím sure you all knew HK was a British colony but did you know for how many years and the year it was returned to China?? The night scenery was gorgeous because it was all lit up at night and with all the skyscrapers next to each other, HK was beautiful. If you ever go to HK, Victoria Harbor is where you want to bring your significant other to and share the view together! This could be a stereotype but I also noticed a lot of rich people in HK. Most of the cars people were driving were none other than BMW and Benz. Many people I saw on the streets had bags and bags of name-brand things. They could be HK people, they could be mainlanders, they could even be Japanese!! There were definitely many Japanese visitors; theyíre everywhere, even in Taiwan!! HK was great. Even the airport was worth checking out; plenty of shop and restaurants at the airport if you want to do last minute shopping. I thought Japan was quite advance but checking in your bags at the train station before you board the train to the airport is just too cool and convenient!
Answer: HK belonged to the British for 99 years. 1997 was the year HK became China again