Last week I visited Taipei for 5 days, just returned yesterday. This was my first time in Taiwan. A friend of mine I’ve known from back in San Francisco was in Taiwan for the summer. I decided to go and visit her and do some sightseeing around Taiwan. I’m partial to Thai Airways but they only use A330s to Taipei now and China Airlines uses 747s and EVA only uses 777s. All three airlines were roughly the same price. All three are great airlines so if given the choice, I’m going to go for the carrier that is using the 747.
What was interesting is that buying my ticket directly from the airline’s websites were significantly cheaper than all of the travel websites such as Expedia, Cheaptickets, and LastminuteTravel. They were all quoting prices that were 3 times higher than what the Thai, EVA and China Airlines sites were quoting.
Ticket purchase, check-in and seat selection all went superbly without a hitch. The lady at the check-in counter offered me an exit row at no extra charge but I declined. The exit row seat has no hip room and are very uncomfortable unless you’re super skinny so I kept my seat of 56A.
The flight was full and the China Airlines at Suvanumbumi staff managed to load that 747 in record time – less than 10 minutes. This was on one of their new interior 747s B-18203. These are equipped with PTVs.
We push back on time and off we go. No delays. The flight was very turbulent but not as bad as the return flight. The service was good; the food was so, so. I drank lots of champagne instead.
Listening to the Carpenters to keep my mind off of the heavy turbulence.
I wish I could have got a photo but in flight, we had an Air Asia A320 pass right underneath us over Vietnam. It was extremely close. We were headed east and the Air Asia A320 was headed south. It looked to be within 1000 feet of our plane. That’s not good when you can clearly read the letters on an aircraft flying perpendicular to yours. Throughout the flight, the pilot had to maneuver around several cirrocumulus clouds. When descending in to Taipei, there were white crest on the waves in the ocean that was evident of very windy weather. The landing was rather bumpy as well. Despite all of the maneuvering throughout the flight, we still managed to land ahead of schedule.
Deplaning, currency exchange and customs control went without a hitch and my friend was already waiting and we headed in to town on an airport shuttle bus. I was taken back at how clean & orderly Taiwan is. Checked in to my hotel in the Jingan district.
Immediately started to do some sightseeing; temples, restaurants, shops and other typical touristy stuff. Had lots of good Taiwanese & Chinese food that I can’t get in Bangkok. Now I’m always up for trying something new to eat but I draw the line at stinky tofu! My goodness, this stuff smells awful! I had to pass on this dish.
It was time to unwind and test the amenities of this hotel....
The following day we went on the Maokong Gondolas. That was awesome! Offers great views of Taipei and is very quiet. Nothing but the sounds of wind and birds chirping. Had my best meal of this trip atop of this mountain.
Top of Taipei
Had to visit Taipei 101.
No passing gas?
How is this enforced?
Rode on the high speed rail line to Taichung.
Would have ridden it further south if I had more time.
Taichung looked kind of boring so I got back on the train and headed back to Taipei. Taichung
Has standing on toilets ever been a problem in Taiwan?
Taipei 101 in the daylight.
Early stages of typhoon Saola forming.
Taipei has an extensive underground subway network. It’s very clean, runs frequently and I like that they don’t wrap their trains with tacky advisements like some cities do. I like the bare metal trains’ with a clean cheatline running horizontally.
Time to fly back home.
Took a taxi to the airport and check-in went smooth.
I may want to try this airline some day.
Airport is going through some sort of renovations but I hope they keep this neat looking decoration in their departure terminal.
The return flight to Bangkok was on B-18202 which still has the older interior. I found the older interior to be more comfortable as it has the padded head support. My seat was broken but it was to my advantage because the seat recline almost 180 degrees. Luckily the person behind me was a baby - that didn’t cry. No need to worry about taking away his leg room.
We push back on time but taxiing to the run way was very slow. The storm didn’t seem like it was letting up. We sat at the beginning of the runway for about 5 minutes before the pilot decided to go for it and takeoff. On the takeoff roll, the crosswinds were intense and at rotation, the turbulence was very strong.
The entire flight was turbulent which interrupted meal service. Thought-out the flight, the pilot had to change altitude and change course. I didn’t get a chance to fall asleep in the best coach seat in the house.
On several occasions our plane dropped and my coffee spilled all over the place. This flight was not fun at all by the China Airlines crew were very professional and the crappy weather didn’t effect their level of great service.
Even on final approach to BKK, the turbulence & crosswinds were intense and seemed like we were about to do a go around but luckily the pilot put the plane down about halfway down the runway and we zigzagged down the runway until we came to a complete stop.
Everything was going uneventful with deplaning and going through customs.
After customs, going through the ‘Nothing To Declare’ line was nuts!
The officer just decided to accuse me, two other people from my flight and a young family from Taiwan for smuggling in fruit and thought that we were United Airlines employees up to no good. We really didn’t understand him at first because he was screaming at us in broken English. He was accusing all 10 of us of smuggling in fruit to Thailand. Never mind the fact that the United Airlines flight comes in 12 hours later. We kept showing him our ticket stub from China Airlines but he didn’t believe any of us. He didn’t bother going through our luggage our anything. He just assumed that we all had some sort of forbidden fruit. Come on now! Do I look like the kind of guy that would smuggle in fruit?!?!?
We just went to another officer that let us through. That whole ordeal was just nuts!
Then as I get home, I read on the news that Taiwan is being hit by a major typhoon which had already claimed one life and toll keeps on rising. The airports had already been closed shortly after our takeoff. We made it out in a nick of time. I wish all the best to those that are affected by typhoon Saola.
The last time I flew CI, they didn't have PTV in coach.
Quoting Superfly (Thread starter): Now I’m always up for trying something new to eat but I draw the line at stinky tofu! My goodness, this stuff smells awful! I had to pass on this dish.
The smell and the taste are completely different. I love stinky tofu!!! It's the one dish I miss the most from Shi-lin night market. I'm not sure why but the Taiwanese restaurant in LA are calling is "fermented tofu" now.
Quoting Superfly (Thread starter): Rode on the high speed rail line to Taichung.
Would have ridden it further south if I had more time.
I haven't even ride on the HSR yet! I'm the only Taiwanese I know who hasn't been on it yet. Haha!
I don't care. I was not going to kiss my friend after she ate that stuff.
Quoting foppishbum (Reply 3): I'm not sure why but the Taiwanese restaurant in LA are calling is "fermented tofu" now.
Leave it to those fruits & nuts in California to complicate things. I'm sure someone with too much time on their hands was 'offended' by the term "stinky".
I can't think of a better way to describe it. That stuff stinks!
Quoting foppishbum (Reply 3): I haven't even ride on the HSR yet! I'm the only Taiwanese I know who hasn't been on it yet. Haha!
Give it a ride. Pay an extra $6 for the business class seats. They're very comfortable.
Quoting foppishbum (Reply 3): I flew from TSA to TNN very frequently when EF flew that route. Oh the good old days of domestic flights pre-HSR era. Haha!
How are the flight attendants on FAT?
Quoting kazim786 (Reply 4): I normally enjoy flying through turbulence but this seemed pretty terrifying.
I have a moderate tolerance for turbulence but this flight had me on edge. I may get flamed for this but I'd much rather be on a 747 instead of a A330 flying through a tropical storm.
bennator From Singapore, joined Mar 2012, 22 posts, RR: 0 Reply 8, posted (9 months 3 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 14630 times:
Nice trip report. I've only been on CI 744s without the PTVs, so it's nice to see the improvement. I really like their A333s though.
The turbulence looks no fun. I've flown in and out of TPE, KHH, and HKG during typhoon weather, and it's no fun. I know turbulence isn't dangerous per se, but it really puts me on edge when you're bouncing around from takeoff until landing. It also makes doing anything like eating, going to the bathroom, etc. much more difficult. Plus, it's no fun being in clouds all the way up to FL400; nothing to see but gray skies.
Also, I must mention (for next time) that Taichung is a great place. It doesn't have the tourist sites of Taipei, but it's more relaxed, and more art-y. It also has Taiwan's best night market. The big problem is transportation. The HSR station is a ways out of town, requiring a bus or local train ride in. The city just started work on its metro system, without which local transit relies on buses that are very often stuck in traffic (it's hell to drive through too). I hope it's much better when the metro opens in 2015?
NorthstarBoy From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 1713 posts, RR: 1 Reply 12, posted (9 months 2 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 13285 times:
Good Job, nice report and pics.
I'm just curious, did you have to go downstairs to get to the gate room at A4? From my only trip through TPE so far, back in 2006, I took the A340 torture mobile from Tpe to the old Bkk airport and i remember we had to descend the stairs to get to the gate room. I also recall that the D gates were a complete departure from the A gates. Going to the D gates was like walking into the lobby of a luxury hotel with plush carpeting and marble. The A gates were more like a college dormitory with worn wood floors and shops everywhere.
Finally, vis-a-vis flying through the typhoon, I wonder how many flights here would have been canceled before a storm like that even arrived? Yet in Asia, they fly right through those things, amazing.
Anyway, good job.
I could have elite status if I wanted it, but flying the same airline all the time is boring.
Quoting NorthstarBoy (Reply 12): Finally, vis-a-vis flying through the typhoon, I wonder how many flights here would have been canceled before a storm like that even arrived? Yet in Asia, they fly right through those things, amazing.
It got to the point where the airport shut down just after my takeoff.
When I got home just 4 hours after departing Taipei, Yahoo had already reported that TPE has cancelled all flights.
Perhaps someone with more techincal knowledge can explan to me if aircraft type is factored in to any of this? Those 747s seem to be able to flight through just about anything.
Quoting falstaff (Reply 13): That looks nice, I didn't know they had anything like that there. I always enjoy a ride on stuff like that.
It is one of the highlights of Taipei.
They closed it just a few hours later and was shut down the rest of my trip due to high winds and rain.
Quoting falstaff (Reply 13): talk about population density, the exact opposite of Detroit.
NorthstarBoy From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 1713 posts, RR: 1 Reply 16, posted (9 months 2 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 12059 times:
Quoting Superfly (Reply 14): Quoting NorthstarBoy (Reply 12): I took the A340 torture mobile
What is that?
The China Airlines A340-300 I flew on from Taipei-Bangkok was probably the most physically uncomfortable plane I've ever flown on. There was so little padding in the seats that I could feel the ribbed frame of the seat under me. At that time, CI was using the A340-300 to fly Taipei to Seattle and I couldn't imagine spending 12 hours in one of those seats. After four hours my rear end was aching from the experience. Don't even get me started on the pre-historic PTVs on that thing, I spent probably half the flight trying to make it work properly before I finally just gave up.
Overall though, I really liked CI, the food was good, the service was good, I'd fly them again, just not on one of their A340-300s.
I could have elite status if I wanted it, but flying the same airline all the time is boring.
akhmad From Netherlands, joined Sep 2005, 2334 posts, RR: 53 Reply 19, posted (9 months 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 11216 times:
Very nice report about China Airlines and Taiwan.
My first experience with the airline has been in 2006. Perhaps, I should consider flying CI again sometime.
Quoting Superfly (Thread starter): A friend of mine I’ve known from back in San Francisco was in Taiwan for the summer.
A good excuse to visit Taiwan. I should make up my own excuse to go there.
Quoting Superfly (Thread starter): All three airlines were roughly the same price. All three are great airlines so if given the choice, I’m going to go for the carrier that is using the 747.
Nothing beats The Queen of The Sky.
Quoting Superfly (Thread starter): What was interesting is that buying my ticket directly from the airline’s websites were significantly cheaper than all of the travel websites such as Expedia, Cheaptickets, and LastminuteTravel.
So why bother enlisting the service of the travel websites?
Quoting Superfly (Thread starter): My seat was broken but it was to my advantage because the seat recline almost 180 degrees. Luckily the person behind me was a baby - that didn’t cry.
Lie-flat Economy seat for your own convenience.
Quoting Superfly (Thread starter): The officer just decided to accuse me, two other people from my flight and a young family from Taiwan for smuggling in fruit and thought that we were United Airlines employees up to no good.
What a “warm” welcome to Land of Smiles.
Quoting Superfly (Thread starter): Never mind the fact that the United Airlines flight comes in 12 hours later.
The officer’s been jet-lagging already and he did not even fly!
That's for sure!
The 747 wins out when ever I have choices on a route and the prices aren't that big of a difference. The only exception is if there is an opportunity to fly on something rare like an IL-96 or something.
Quoting akhmad (Reply 19): So why bother enlisting the service of the travel websites?
Many people don't even bother looking at the different airline websites. Many go to those travel sites and/or LCC sites and book their ticket without even looking at the prices offered directly from the major carriers.
Quoting akhmad (Reply 19): Cool! CI is among the few airlines serving champagne in Economy.
It could have been sparkling wine. I'm not a champagne / sparkling wine connoisseur. I prefer red wine but I'm more of a beer and cocktails kind of guy.
rwsea From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 3017 posts, RR: 2 Reply 23, posted (8 months 4 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 8626 times:
Nice report, thanks for sharing! Taipei has been on my list for awhile and it seems like a nice place to visit.
Did you see the business class on these planes? I ask because the flight you were on is a continuation of AMS-BKK-TPE operated on a 747. I am flying to BKK later this year and CI is offering very attractive business class fares. If you (or anyone else) can comment on the business class seats/service, I'd much appreciate it!