Skip to main content

A quick Asia 2016 update

Hello from Taipei. There's so much to write about our trip so far, but I've lacked the energy to do so yet. I think it shall have to wait until I reach home.

The story so far...

Our Scoot flight from Singapore to Sydney felt very long. Salt lakes in the Australian desert actually had water thanks to the Big Wet striking the continent. Unfortunately, these clouds meant the flight was full of enough niggling bumps that I could rarely relax. Big storm clouds over Indonesia only made things worse for me.

Water in the desert

Central Australia

Emerging from high cloud

Evening clouds as we sit in a holding pattern before descent into Singapore.
I used the onboard Internet to post live updates to Instagram, Tumblr and WordPress, and that's been the best place to keep updated about our travel.

We arrived late into our hotel in Singapore, grabbed a quick supper from the hawker stalls opposite and fell asleep.

The next morning we swam and filled our stomach with laksa, noodles and other dishes from around the Katong area. I then started to feel sick and very anxious about flying through the afternoon storm clouds gathering around Singapore.

Janggut laksa, the original Katong laksa


We got this far at Changi

Indeed it was storm clouds that disrupted our trip. We reached the airport, checked in and went airside, but just after entering the Qantas lounge I received a call that a neighbour's tree had collapsed and damaged our roof in Sydney during a storm.

We cancelled our flight, had to pass back through immigration (Jetstar were great about it) and find a hotel. Fortunately the Ibis Bencoolen and my Accor club membership meant we got free overseas phone calls to Australia as we spent the rest of the day trying to sort out insurance.

I was still feeling rotten the next day so B and Alex went by themselves to the aquarium and other attractions on Sentosa while I staying in bed.

We dropped the two night Hong Kong leg of our trip and booked tickets on Scoot directly to Taiwan. It departed at almost 1am.

Star Wars display at Changi Airport
After arriving in Taipei we tried to book the excellent Novotel Taoyuan Airport for a day stay but it was full. So off to the same hotel as our last stay, the City Inn II. Unfortunately, it was too early to check in.

We took a wander through the surrounding area, ending up at the historic Dadaocheng wharf and Dichang Street area, with its old shops and interesting foods.

Sunday was very wet. Last time we were in Taiwan we caught the Pingxi scenic railway line which was absolutely packed on the weekend. However, we decided to risk another scenic line, the Neiwan. An HSR (High Speed Rail - basically a Shinkansen) took us to Hsingchu, after which we caught a connecting train one station and then the wonderfully decorated diesel rail car the rest of the way to Neiwan. No trouble getting a seat today!

It was indeed a pretty line along the river and up into the mountains, past lots of little farms and even a paintball match. Neiwan's old street was lined with food stalls serving all sorts of Hakka delicacies. We did get soaked though.

I got to stand at the front of the train on the way back, my favourite spot.

That night we had a dinner of small snacks from the Ningxia Night Market, a short walk from the hotel. Alex learned the smell of fermented tofu and we had an incredibly delicious mango snow.

Yesterday  we experienced some of the inspiration for the movie Spirited Away with a trip to the mountain village of Jiufen. A train ride to Ruifang, then a bus up the twisting road. Legs were then the main form of transport, up the narrow shopping street past a variety of food stalls. We tried many. Some good, some great, some inedible. The highlight was taking tea and pineapple tarts in the old teahouse.

The bus ride back down was the scariest I've been on (though there are many worse in this world).

The night was spent wandering around the huge Shilin Night Market, which quickly became very crowded. So many different snacks to try. Buns, sausages, squid, fried ice cream and fried milk cubes.

Some new shoes for Alex, replacing the soaked old pair.

And that's where we are up to now. I'll write up more detailed descriptions here after we get back.


Popular posts from this blog

Ho Chi Minh to Hoi An

The easy way to get to Hoi An from Ho Chi Minh City is to fly to Danang then go via car for the final leg. Then there's my way. We had to wake at 5.30 am to get ready for a 6.15 departure from the hotel. A hotel car took us the few kilometres to the domestic terminal at the airport, where we checked into our Vietnam Airlines flight to the central Vietnam city of Hue. The airport was nothing flash, but it seemed functional. Alex had sandwiches (refused banh mi) for breakfast, then we went to the gate. Our blue Airbus A321 was parked at a remote stand, which necessitated a packed shuttle bus ride. It was nice to be aboard a full service airline again, even if the service was just a cup of water. We took off over the hazy skies of Ho Chi Minh City and for most of the smooth flight were cruising over a carpet of cloud. We descended over mountains poking their heads through the cloud, across lakes and paddy fields and over the beach. It was lovely scenery.

The Carlingford Line

We close the year and the decade with a local adventure to mark the closure of a railway line. On the January 5, 2020, the Carlingford Line from Clyde will close to be partially replaced by the Parramatta Light Rail. This is Sydney's quietest line, a single track branch for most of its length from the industrial centre of Clyde to the northwestern suburb of Carlingford. According to Wikipedia, power supply and signalling issues mean that only a single four car train can utilise the line at a time. Newer Sydney trains run in fixed eight car configurations. This will be the first and last time I traverse the Carlingford Line in its current configuration. The weather of the day is certainly appropriate for an ending, the brown smoke haze lending an apocalyptic air to proceedings. I drive to Padstow and catch the T8 line to Central, followed by the T1 towards Parramatta and Penrith. The historic homes of the Inner West give way to industrial complexes, rail storage yards and t

A lazy day at the beach

It's 2am and somebody is still setting fireworks off on the beach in front of the hotel. I can't see the explosions as I have the window shuttered, but I can still hear them. I've wanted to have a lazy day and today was the closest I got. I woke up in the night from a very sad dream. Dreams follow crazy paths, but this one resolved itself as so. An entity had been causing disruption of computer systems around the world. It turned out that this entity had emerged from the computer networks and had been struggling to gain access to more computing power so that it could live. The entity had taken on the persona of a woman. The protagonist who had "defeated" the entity discovered that it was alive, spoke to it. Ultimately fell in love with her. But his prior actions would lead to its death. As a gift to her he downloaded his memories so that she could experience life even as she died. I know it sounds like a pulpy sf or technopunk plot, but dreams are about feelings,