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Taipei to Singapore

Our time in Taiwan had come to an end. I like the country. The people are unpretentious and friendly, seemingly more relaxed than Mainland China or its other outposts. It's a pretty place too. The cities are much more grungy than Japan, but that's attractive in its own way.

Alex's Mandarin lessons certainly helped on this trip as my brain was much more familiar with the language and I even managed a few words. He was so proud when he remembered "sorry" and "excuse me".

We caught the HSR and shuttle bus to Taoyuan International Airport and had lunch at the food court. B had a rice and duck set, Alex ramen and me just buns, all my flight worried stomach could take.

Terminal 1 is very enclosed. A big "See you Taiwan" sign in a 70's brush font sits above the immigration gates. We made our way to the "Fruit waiting lounge" which had a giant mural of fruit by our aircraft gate.

This time we were flying Scoot's Maju-lah, celebrating Singapore's fiftieth anniversary with a poxy livery on its Boeing 789.

We took our seats and Captain Colin Croft and First Officer Dylan welcomed us on board, warning that there might be a few bumps as we ascended to cruising altitude in these wet and windy conditions.

I was more worried about the potential for turbulence descending into tropical cloudy Singapore.

For the next hour or so the only bumps were as we taxied along the tarmac. There was only one runway in operation and we were stuck in a very long queue. I fell asleep as inched forward, stopped, inched forward, stopped.

Passengers were allowed to use their mobiles and go to the toilet due to the delay.

Eventually it was our turn and we began the long and slow take-off roll that seems to be the hallmark for this type of aircraft. Some great views of the airport and of a coastal power station construction, its surrounding wind turbines spinning rapidly in the wind.

There were indeed a few bumps, though nothing serious, as we penetrated each layer of cloud. Then we were above it all and all became smooth.

Cruising above a carpet of cloud through smooth evening skies. This is when I love flying. I relaxed, listened to music and surfed the internet using my prepaid onboard wifi.

Eventually darkness fell. A few breaks in the cloud lead to bumps here and there, but only minor and I could tell from Flight Aware maps that there was likely nothing to worry about. Below us was the occasional light from a ship or collections of bright individual lights from squid fishing boats.

Alex's iPad was running out of battery power, so I paid five Singapore dollars (plus credit card and currency conversion fees no doubt) to activate in seat power.

First officer Dylan announced that we were about to begin our descent but that there could be a few bumps close to Singapore. Yep, as expected, with the island experiencing rain.

And yes there were quite a few drops as we descended through the clouds. I gripped the seat tightly while Alex tried to distract me with tickles. Then it was over and we were curving around the island state, flying over Changi Airport and doing a complete U-turn to align ourselves for the landing. The lights of the city and the ships waiting outside were awesome.

We finally touched down after what was a pretty good flight overall. I hope our next one will be as good.

We were now quite late due to the congestion at Taoyuan and it was past 10.30PM by the time the taxi had brought us to the hotel and we checked in. We'd had no dinner on the aircraft and were starving with a fair degree of hangry going around. So we caught another taxi to La Pau Sat, a trendy food centre open late.

The prices at La Pau Sat are a bit high. Satay touts almost made us pay for too much food, before B's brain managed to do the calculation. Still, Rahim's satay was very good, especially the sauce and the twenty sticks filled us.

We decided to walk back to the hotel rather than paying for the taxi fare, reaching it at midnight. We discovered that a couple of Muslim stalls at the closer Maxwell Food Centre were still open so we could have eaten there. Oh well, no regrets.

For all that I enjoyed Taiwan, I do prefer the cuisine here.


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