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Across The Sensitive Straits PEK-TPE On CA  
User currently offlineckblah From Singapore, joined Jul 2010, 60 posts, RR: 0
Posted (3 years 2 months 1 week 18 hours ago) and read 6515 times:

Background
Flights between Mainland China and Taiwan had been restricted since the end of the Chinese Civil War. Due to obvious security concerns, flights between the mainland and Taiwan had to be re-routed through a third city, with Hong Kong being the most notable example. During the years from 2003 through 2005, Lunar New Year charters were organised for Taiwanese businessmen to return to home. These flights were known as cross-strait charter flights and were restricted to Taiwanese businessmen and their family members (excluding students and tourists) who are in mainland China to travel to and from Taiwan. Since 2006, this scheme was opened to all residents of Taiwan. From the Mid-Autumn Festival on 2006, the valid period of the agreement was expanded to four main Chinese festivals: Qingming Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, and the original Chinese New Year. In April 2009, a new agreement was reached to allow cross-strait flights to became regularly scheduled instead of chartered. Currently, direct commercial flights are available between the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Chengdu and Taoyuan-Taipei, among others.

Introduction
Having accumulated some Asia Miles (Cathay's frequent flyer programme) from flying between Beijing and Singapore, I decided to utilize them to claim a flight between Hong Kong and Taipei en-route Singapore after graduation this July. Dur to scheduling issues, I am unable to make the trip in July and hence pushed it forward to May. Also, instead of flying HKG-TPE return, the eventual routing became PEK-TPE return. It requires 20k Asia Miles for a direct flight between Beijing and Taipei (on Air China) or 30k Asia Miles for a flight that transits in Hong Kong. As I only had a miserly 15k, I spent US$180 to purchase 6k miles and another US$80 on taxes for my PEK-TPE return flight. Considering such a ticket would set me back by about US$700 if I did not utilize the miles, I am pretty happy with the deal I secured. The booking process was rather simple, with a few calls made to the Asia Miles phone center and submitting of my credit card details, I was all set for the trip!

9 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineckblah From Singapore, joined Jul 2010, 60 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (3 years 2 months 1 week 18 hours ago) and read 6499 times:

PEK-TPE
Carrier: Air China (CA)
Flight number: 185
Dep time sch/act: 0835/0850
Arr time sch/act: 1145/1125

Check-in was smooth and quick as I narrowly missed a whole group of tourists. I requested for an aisle seat as I drink a lot of water onboard and make frequent visits to the lav. The boarding gate was supposed to a normal gate, complete with an aero-bridge, but when I arrived at the departing concourse, I noticed the gate was changed to one where we had to be bus-ed to. Thankfully for that, I managed to get a few great pictures of the aircraft.

http://www.chinkeat.com/trip_report/taiwan/a1.jpg

http://www.chinkeat.com/trip_report/taiwan/a2.jpg

The load in economy was extremely light, only about 50% full. I had 2.5 seats to myself (2 of us shared 5 seats). Before push-back and taxi, the FA went around pushing a cart full of newspapers which I felt was a nice touch.  

Due to the extremely strong winds, the plane wobbled quite a bit after takeoff and continued for about 30mins! One of the passengers started freaking out and was complaining to her boyfriend non-stop. Pardon me for feeling quite amused by the inflight entertainment she provided as the turbulence was honestly not that bad.

Breakfast was served shortly after takeoff with western and chinese options. The western meal consisted of eggs, hotdog, hashbrowns and croissant while the chinese meal included porridge and some preserves. I chose the western option and was quite happy that CA improved their catering. The first photo below is the meal I had this time while the second was a meal I had a year ago. The main difference would be the quality of the hotdog served. Having stayed in China for close to four years, I still cannot get used to the starchy cylindrical thingy they serve as hotdog. The hotdog served this time round is much better! Kudos to that!

http://www.chinkeat.com/trip_report/taiwan/a3.jpg
Breakfast in 2011


Breakfast in 2010

Even though the flight departed slightly later than scheduled, the pilot made up some time along the way and we reached TPE early! That marks the end of the first flight.

Stay tuned for the next part with pictures of Taiwan!


User currently offlineckblah From Singapore, joined Jul 2010, 60 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (3 years 2 months 1 week 17 hours ago) and read 6406 times:

Taiwan
I can't imagine anyone not enjoying a trip in Taiwan. The food, the convenience, the people, the list goes on! While in Taiwan, I spent quite a couple of nights in Taipei and a couple others in Hualien (eastern Taiwan).

Taipei is an extremely easy to navigate city with a superb subway network and extensive bus services. The Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall is a must visit, after all, it was he who fled to Taiwan after realising his battle against the CCP was coming to an end. The treasures and money he amassed and shipped to Taiwan definitely aided Taiwan's initial industrialization process.


CKS Memorial Hall

For a glimpse of modern Taipei, head over to the eastern side where all the chi chi boutiques and restaurants are located. Not to mention once-the-world's-tallest building, Taipei 101. I went up elephant hill which is located slightly to the south of Taipei 101 and caught a breath-taking view of the city. As the sun set, the city lit up while planes could be observed arriving and departing from the Songshan airport.


Taipei 101 at dusk

The night markets with all the Taiwanese street food are a gastronomical delight! But the one thing I truly missed about Taiwan is the tea shops! The bubble tea that these tea shops sell come in so many flavours and are all open to customization. I am truly suffering from tea-withdrawal-syndrome! Arghs!

From Taipei, I also made a few day trips. One was to Jiufen while another was to Keelung. Jiufen is an old gold mining town which is perched on a mountain. This quaint little town with lots to buy and eat also served as the inspiration for the anime "Spirited Away" by Hayao Miyazaki.

http://www.chinkeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/16.jpg
Jiufen

Keelung, located to the north of Taipei is extremely easy to get to. It only took us 40mins by local train. It is a port city and serves brilliant seafood. A live 800g boston lobster only cost us US$20, while the restaurant charged US$6 to prepare the lobster. Gosh, if only more of us went!

http://www.chinkeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/17.jpg
Keelung harbour

If you're in the mood for nature, Hualien is an excellent place! The Taroko gorge features lush scenery and water so green it looks dyed! You could also go whale watching, but be warned, I literally puked my guts out thanks to the very choppy sea!


Taroko gorge

More photos of my Taiwan trip can be found at: http://www.chinkeat.com/travel-photos/taiwan/taiwan/


User currently offlineinitious From Singapore, joined Dec 2008, 1053 posts, RR: 15
Reply 3, posted (3 years 2 months 1 week 17 hours ago) and read 6343 times:

Hey Chin Keat,

A great TR up there! However, I do not think it will be worth to be paying USD$700 for a return flight on a Chinese carrier on a 3 hour flight. Are fares for cross strait charters slightly higher? It's good to see you got the special scheme B772 of CA though. The pictures of Taiwan are beautiful! Been there in 2007 and the memories are still lingering in my mind, especially the wonderful smelly tofu which can be gotten almost anywhere in the streets.

Regards,
Daniel



One way I will fly around the world!
User currently offlineckblah From Singapore, joined Jul 2010, 60 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (3 years 2 months 1 week 17 hours ago) and read 6316 times:

TPE-PEK
Carrier: Air China (CA)
Flight number: 186
Dep time sch/act: 1300/1330
Arr time sch/act: 1625/1610
Aircraft model: Boeing 777-200

After an enjoyable trip in Taiwan, it was time to return to Beijing and continue working on my dissertation! My friend and I woke up pretty early, packed and bought some breakfast before boarding the express bus from Taipei main station to the Taoyuan airport. The journey took about an hour and we were soon at Terminal 2 where Air China operates from.

The check-in process, handled by China Airlines, was fairly quick and I was offered an emergency exit row. As my friend was flying Philippine Airlines back to Singapore, we went to Terminal 1 to attempt to check-in. Unfortunately, we were too early and the counters were not open yet. The journey between the two terminals is pretty long and can be quite tiring as we had to navigate through long corridors and steps.

I noticed that Cathay operates out of Terminal 1 but Dragonair operates out of Terminal 2! I find it rather weird considering the two airlines are almost like one company. Any idea why?

Anyway, the immigration and security formalities were a breeze to go through and soon I was at gate D9 waiting for boarding. Free internet meant I enjoyed my last few moments of facebook and youtube before heading back behind the irritating Great Firewall of China. The plane used this time was once again in special livery:

http://www.chinkeat.com/trip_report/taiwan/a4.jpg

Boarding commenced only at 1245 and we pushed back at 1320 or so. Although we took off late, the pilot made up a lot of time in the air and we landed ahead of schedule. Lunch was served shortly after takeoff and consisted of either chicken with rice or pork with noodles. I chose the former and was not that impressed. Drinks were served both before and after the meal service.

After landing in PEK, we were once again bus-ed to the main terminal building. The immigration was so packed with people, there were at least 30 people in front of me in my queue! When a few of the counters switched from serving Chinese nationals to foreigners, many people jumped over while I advanced in my queue due to the switch by them.

The area for baggage pick up was equally crowded and I waited a good 10 minutes before collect both pieces of luggage. Once has to note that I waited 10 mins at the baggage casserole despite already taking a very long time at the immigration! I guess 4ish in the afternoon is the busy time for international arrivals at PEK.

On a side note, I had this asparagus drink in Taiwan which tasted really good! If you're in town, do give it a try!


Comments and feedback welcomed.  

My other trip reports can be found at:


[Edited 2011-05-22 09:16:41]

User currently offlineckblah From Singapore, joined Jul 2010, 60 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (3 years 2 months 1 week 17 hours ago) and read 6295 times:

Quoting initious (Reply 3):
I do not think it will be worth to be paying USD$700 for a return flight on a Chinese carrier on a 3 hour flight. Are fares for cross strait charters slightly higher?

I totally agree with you! I'm pretty glad I didn't pay the full fare for it. The direct flights seem to be more expensive than flights transiting in HKG. I've been avoiding Chinese carriers for my Beijing-Singapore trips!

Quoting initious (Reply 3):
It's good to see you got the special scheme B772 of CA though.

Got it twice in fact. Ha!  


User currently offlineanonms From United States of America, joined Dec 2007, 617 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (3 years 2 months 1 week 15 hours ago) and read 6063 times:

Quoting ckblah (Reply 4):
On a side note, I had this asparagus drink in Taiwan which tasted really good! If you're in town, do give it a try!

Oh goodness, I've never encountered that before somehow. Does it maks your urine smell funny as well?



This is my signature.
User currently offlineckblah From Singapore, joined Jul 2010, 60 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (3 years 2 months 1 week 6 hours ago) and read 5438 times:

Quoting anonms (Reply 6):
Oh goodness, I've never encountered that before somehow. Does it maks your urine smell funny as well?

Hmms... The drink tasted good, while my urine was pretty normal. Haha...


User currently offlineQuokka From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (3 years 2 months 1 week 5 hours ago) and read 5301 times:

Hi ckblah,
A great trip report and an interesting introduction on the previous difficulties in travel between China and Taiwan and its gradual liberalisation.

Of note the special liveries of the two planes on which you flew. Were these to celebrate something in particular?

I like the photo of the rocks sculpted by flowing water.

Thanks for sharing.
Quokka


User currently offlineckblah From Singapore, joined Jul 2010, 60 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (3 years 2 months 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 4619 times:

Quoting Quokka (Reply 8):
Of note the special liveries of the two planes on which you flew. Were these to celebrate something in particular?

While I am unsure if the special liveries were to celebrate anything, I doubt that possibility as there weren't any words or specific symbols which I could relate to any festivals or events.

Quoting Quokka (Reply 8):
I like the photo of the rocks sculpted by flowing water.

I'm glad you liked it.  


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