Sunday, February 6, 2011

Week 20_Veteran Traveller

Let's face it, I have only been overseas for a number of months at this point, and I can't necessarily claim that I am an "old pro" just yet - but it sure feels like I am headed that direction. Between flying to Taiwan in September, flying home in December, and yet again this Jan/Feb - I have spent some time in the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and quite a number of layovers in the Narita International Airport (Japan), in a matter of just a few months.

This trip I arrived at Taoyuan Airport early, and had even more time than usual to wander around. I particularly like the art displays in this airport. You may recall the sea of colorful umbrellas suspended from the ceiling (in previous blog post), and this visit I stumbled upon a children & adult art and education lounge about Taiwan/Taiwanese culture.
Chinese Zodiac stamps - stamp your sign

Colorful zodiac display, Signs by Year

Time to read a little of my book, and enjoy a Caramel Macchiato before the flight
I am now familiar with the Duty Free shops in the Taoyuan Airport, the small lounge pictured above, and the cafe where I bought the coffee and sat down to read my book. Additionally, each time I fly through I spend a little time strolling the terminal - checking out the various shops and amenities. Brownie point for the Taoyuan Airport: They offer computers for public use with free Internet services = Nice!

Next, I am becoming more familiar with the Narita Airport (Tokyo). On the one hand, it seems larger (ie more shops, etc) but at the same time, I don't find Narita all too impressive (at least not the one wing that I always seem to wind up in). The food selection is limited; the shops are primarily designer couture... Nothing I am likely to be in the market for when I'm already spending big bucks on a trip! Nonetheless, I have been learning the ins and outs of this airport as well. Believe it or not, I actually found a very quiet and unpopulated space - a long walkway underground leading from one wing to another. I was just amazed to see any space with virtually no one else - since crowds and people are basically unavoidable at international airports!

Narita Airport : Underground walkway connecting two wings of Terminal 1
It was sort of nice just to stroll along for a moment by my lonesome in this grand tunnel. It felt like a secret passage or something......... After my wanderings, I wound up once again with some spare time, so I decided to get a drink and read my book some more. I sat next to a nice young girl - probably my age - traveling home from visiting a friend in Japan. She was very friendly and eager to see new things, obviously sad that it was time for her trip to end. 

Reading a bit before the next flight, Narita Airport
On my flight back through Tokyo, headed to Taiwan I made friends with two young girls - one a senior in high school, and one about my age - they followed me through security, asked me questions about flying policies and visas etc. They were both headed to Bangkok (where the hubby & I honeymooned). I told the girls where the good eateries were in the airport and showed them one of the really cute shops that is not high-end designer products. It was nice to have some company close to my age/nationality/etc to pass the time with.

Taoyuan International Airport signage - I'd like to meet those Beagles! :)
And, of course, at the end of it all - back to Taoyuan International, where I now know how to go through the Alien Resident customs line, I know which forms to hand them, and which carousel my luggage will always arrive at. I decided to take the bus ($150 NT) home this time instead of a taxi ($1500 NT)... Not sure I will do that again. The ride is about an hour give or take, either way. It was certainly cheaper, but also musty and slower!

Whatever the case, I think I'm getting the hang of it. 


  1. Keep all those tips handy...I will need them when I come! :)

  2. Sure thing! Any progress on the potential travel plans?!