If you are yet to view part 1 of my trip report covering flights that I took earlier this year, then please feel free to read and comment at the following link.
Now here is part 2. I have now decided to put one report per post, since it was becoming difficult for users with 56k connections to view.
Tuesday 18th July 2006.
It was an interesting six days in Taiwan, where we had visited the majority of the country on a coach with a broken window in weather that wasn't particularly great. On the day that we arrived, Typhoon "Bilis" was passing over Taipei, and we spent our first evening in a dirty hotel cellar, shielding away from battering 120mph gales.
Taichung wasn't particularly nice place to visit, but maybe because I had a negative impression from the poor weather. For some reason the other major city that we visited Kaohsiung seemed to remind me of the roundabouts and straight roads of Milton Keynes!
Taipei was excellent though, there were plenty of things to do, like going to Taipei 101 currently the world's tallest building, the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial hall, museums and the food there was also good. Fortunately when we were given the city tour of Taiwan on our fifth day of our visit, I could finally see the sun, and you could certainly feel it as the temperature hit 38C. Sun Moon Lake was beautiful wit the clean crisp waters, if only we could have hired a boat or canoe for a period of time.
Our tour guide, Michael was a nice chap, however on the journeys by coach, he started loads of crap, like how Taiwan was economically weak and how the mainland was stopping it growing into a great nation. I didn't understand what he was saying, I had to get my younger cousin to translate form Mandarin what he was saying.
And I must not forget the most surreal experience of the trip, going to the hot springs into the pouring rain and accidentally going into a indoor section that was reserved for those who wanted to go strip naked. My cousin seemed to neglect the large warning sign on the doors as a group of us all entered, only to be given a barrage of abuse by a member of staff that I didn't understand. I also felt quite stupid having to wear shower caps, that my mother and auntie thought was quite a laugh.
So I should consider would I ever return to Taiwan. Most probably no, I just don't think that at this moment that Taiwan is well suited to tourists, and there still work to do. But you can clearly see that the effort is for all to see, with Taipei 101 and the modern architecture in the capital.
Also there is still more in Asia that I would like to visit and I found that a few locals were not particularly welcoming towards western tourists. I am yet to go to Thailand, Shanghai and Japan. These would definitely be on my priority list before considering any future trip to the Democratic Republic Of China.
On the day of the flight, we were given the morning at our leisure until the bus would come and pick us up at 14:30 form the hotel. So I decided along with cousins and brother to once again visit the area around Taipei 101. We walked from the hotel to the nearest metro station Nanjing East Road, before taking the tube to Taipei City Hall. I was told by my mother to be back for 14:00, in time for the coach, which we were and how ironic it was she along with two of her sisters were the late ones, HYPOCRITES!
We were told that it was to be a 90 minute journey from the hotel to the Airport, and it was different to the way that we came leaving the airport. The weather was once again excellent and we hugged the coast for a long period of time, seeing a Cathay Pacific A330-300 on finals.
We first went to Terminal 1, where we dropped off two people who were due to be travelling on the Jet Star Asia flight. Then we went round to Terminal 2, our baggage was collected by porters and we went to check in first for the flight. We then said goodbye to our guide with a good old western shake of the hand!
Also on the coach were two other people, but they weren't going back to Singapore on that day. They were met by a couple of representatives from China Airlines to move on for a night's stay at a Hilton after the airline graciously cancelled their flight the night before, because of a low load of passengers.
The Front Of Chiang Kai Shek Airport Terminal 2 - An Impressive Design
Check In Area
Two nights before in the hotel in Taichung, I checked in on-line for the flight and tried to see if there were any ways that I could juggle with the seating arrangements. However there was only five seats left and one of them was seat 56C, which was a extra legroom seat. I selected that seat away from the rest of our party, but before I could confirm the seating arrangements the computer had a crash and restarted. The check in was confirmed with the original seating assignments.
After our check in, we went through to departures, where they was also this corridor going over a main road. I decided to spilt up and have a look around the terminal to see what was on the apron, telling them that I would meet them at the gate later. There wasn't too much around, a Air Macau A320 was parked up on a remote stand for some reason and all that was on the gates was a JAL Boeing 767-200 flight to Chubu international, several China Airlines aircraft heading towards North America, another Cathay Pacific A330-300 and a cargo MD-11 of EVA Airways.
B-18802, an Airbus A340-300 is just about to push back as CI 106 to Tokyo Narita.
However B-18201 has got to the taxiway ahead of the Airbus, and is heading to the runway as CI 12 to New York JFK via Anchorage.
B-18608 has just arrived following a charter flight from Japan.
One of the major criticisms that I can think of Taipei airport is the very limited amount of food and beverage stalls, so I had to stay hungry for over four hours before having a meal on the plane. There is however a internet access room free of charge (note there BAA! - FREE INTERNET ACCESS) with a couple of computers where I chose to go onto MSN messenger and speak to people who were back in Exeter. Then through the window of the cafe came our aircraft on the inbound flight, arriving 15 minutes ahead of the scheduled arrival time.
9V-SRK has just arrived on the outbound flight from Singapore, ahead of schedule.
Passengers wondering around the departure lounge.
A Mandarin Airlines Fokker 100 is being prepared for a short trip to Kaohsiung, on behalf on China Airlines.
Another China Airlines Airbus A340-300 is being prepared for service.
9V-JSB of Jet Star Asia is taxing round to Terminal 1, following its landing on Runway 23, also from Singapore.
One of only a few duty free shops in the terminal building.
Boarding was called around 40 minutes ahead of departure where from he main departures area you went downstairs to the boarding lounge area. From the moment you stepped in, you could easily tell that this was going to be another full flight, the lounge was already packed with people, including the rest of the party, who had arrived much earlier after getting bored.
Boarding was a bit of a mess, Raffles class, Star Alliance Gold and Silver cardholders were called first, and a line had already developed for economy passengers. It seemed like that one person had queued and then others followers, with the result being that people were being shouted at by ground staff, both in English and Mandarin and told to go away until their row was called.
We were all in the second group of economy class boarding and we were welcomed once more the friendly smiling cabin crew, where we were directed to which aisle to be on the aircraft. Hot towels were once again distributed, as were menu cards. Before we pushed back, the KLM flight from Amsterdam via Bangkok taxied past. Despite this we still reversed a minute early. The safety demonstration was then played again through the personal television screens.
9V-SRK at the gate, from the windows in the main terminal area.
Another view of the aircraft, this time from the boarding lounge.
Singapore Airlines SQ875
From: Taipei Chiang Kai Shek Taoyuan T2, Taiwan (TPE)
To: Singapore Changi T2 (SIN)
Scheduled Departure: 1825
Actual Departure From Gate D7: 1824
Takeoff From Runway 23: 1837
Scheduled Arrival: 2250
Landing On Runway 2C: 2240
Arrival At Gate F58: 2248
Aircraft Type: Boeing 777-212ER
Aircraft Registration: 9V-SRK (First Flight On 20th February 2002, Delivery To Singapore Airlines On 1st March 2002)
Another busy flight is coming in Economy class.
There was not a seat spare in the area that I was sitting and following the push back we taxied to runway 23, following another Boeing 747-400 of China Airlines. It was a long take off roll on the runway and we departed towards the east, meaning that we had to take a left hand turn to fly back over the airport and along the west coast of Taiwan.
PH-BFF of KLM will depart later for Amsterdam via Bangkok (Don Muang). B-18610 has just arrived at the gate.
As soon as the aircraft reached the standard 10,000 feet the cabin crew were released to offer us a drink and peanuts before dinner. I just passed my snack to my brother because of my allergy, he wanted to keep it for his friend as a take piss for never being on a plane before. So I just had a drink and opted for a Diet Coke, whilst scanning through the choices of Kris flyer entertainment system. I decided to watch Mission Impossible 3, to see if it was an improvement on the second film, which I thought in my opinion it was rubbish. And it was in my eyes, especially Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was of course rewarded with an Oscar for his leading role in the film Capote.
Around halfway through the film dinner was being passed around to those who had special meals and then came my turn to eat, the menu for the flight was shown below.
Dinner For Flight
Pan fried Fish Fillet served with light Cream Mustard Sauce, Buttered Vegetables and Potato.
Five Spice flavoured Roast Chicken with Chilli Sauce, Seasonal Vegetables and Chicken Flavoured Rice.
Cheese & Crackers
I decided to go for the chicken meal, and with that I had a Tiger Beer, although there were originally problems because the member of the cabin crew didn't think I was old enough to be drinking alcohol. Perfectly reasonable since I don't look my age and I just showed my drivers licence which he was cool with.
My dinner of chicken with vegetables and flavoured rice. Much better than that horrible Omelette outbound.
The chicken was excellent and it came off the bones very easily. It was dark meat, not generally my preference but it was still a great meal. Normally I don't eat plain rice but the chicken juices that were added made a world of difference and that was gobbled up very quickly. Disappointed however that when the airline referred to the idea of seasonal vegetables, they meant a tiny piece of carrot, about ten peas and half a mushroom. It certainly was an improvement on the god awful omelette on the flight into Taipei. The other dish on the menu, the fish fillet was also commented as an excellent meal by my mother.
Twenty minutes after the dinner was originally served, passengers were given a choice of either chocolate or strawberry pots of Haagen Dazs ice cream. Having previously had the former, and believing that it was too rich, I went for the strawberry that I had tried before, and this was also excellent.
Ah, don't we all love a bit of Haagen Dazs!
Making good progress over the South China Sea.
We were now at a cruising altitude of 36000 feet, and continuing our way in a south westerly direction towards Changi Airport. I had finished watching Mission Impossible 3 and then decided once more to go through the episodes of the Apprentice USA that were available, especially the advertising campaign with the cucumber, what a load of laughs!
Passengers settling down following dinner service.
Connecting flight information.
Nearly back in Singapore.
The decent towards the runway was very quick and we landed from the south on Runway 2C ten minutes ahead of the schedule. The taxi took a bit longer than previous landings at Singapore although we still arrived at our final position a couple of minutes ahead. After getting off the air bridge and saying goodbye to the crew for an excellent flight, we saw a scene of chaos as passengers for a SQ flight to CMB spilled over to the entrances of the walkways. But this was soon cleared by staff who profusely apologised about the inconvenience.
Immigration was quick and efficient as normal and before picking up more alcohol from duty free we were on our way back to our auntie's home on the MRT. Since the last train for connections towards the city had already gone, me and my brother were the only ones on the service and we eventually arrived back at 00:30, following another trip on a bus.
Changi Terminal 2 baggage reclaim area.
Changi Airport MRT Station. The last train to the city had already departed.
After the disappointment of the outbound flight to Taipei, this had renewed my faith in Singapore Airlines. The cabin crew were excellent and made all the passengers on the full flight very comfortable indeed.
SQ875 18/07/06 - 8.5/10
Comments are much appreciated!
[Edited 2006-12-01 13:51:44]