Jun 292010

Tainan (Tuesday, June 29, 2010)

We decided not to attend the second day of the conference, and instead took our time at the breakfast buffet. Although the regular buffet was less exclusive, it was immense, with more offerings then one could browse, much less taste. From dim sum to Danish, there was more than enough for anyone. It was difficult squeezing all of our goods back into our luggage, but somehow we managed. While the hotel looked after our bags, we headed out for some last minute touring.

Our first stop was the Confucius Temple. The grounds were leafy and contemplative, but the inner courtyard was sunny and hot. The ancient musical instruments were the most interesting exhibit. To cool down, we visited the nearby Lily fruit stand for some mixed fruit over shaved ice. Several blocks down the road, through the magic of GPS navigation, we found ourselves at the mega-department store Shin Kong Mitsukoshi. Here we checked out the jade jewelry at a seemingly endless number of counters with friendly but extremely persistent saleswomen. Even in the housewares department, you could not browse without drawing the attention of at least one staff member. At least you could close your eyes for a few moments when trying out the massage chairs.

When we reached the basement food court, it was very quiet. We decided to try a little from one place and a little from another, but the staff at the first station apparently was worried that we might go hungry: they supplemented our order with additional main courses and desserts, all of it delicious. Of course, I didn’t anticipate this, and had already purchased a bibimbap from the unenthusiastic counter person at the Korean stand. So we were overfed as usual.

Taoyuan (Tuesday, June 29, 2010)

From the hotel, we took a taxi to the HSR station, and then rode in quiet comfort to the station closest to the airport, Taoyuan. As we neared the exit, we saw that EVA Airways had a kiosk there, and we inquired about an upgrade from regular to premium economy. Seats were indeed available, but only in the very last row of the cabin. Far from ideal, but the extra leg room was welcome. The shuttle bus to the terminal was efficient, so we had plenty of time to…shop the duty free area for jade jewelry. In the end, we did not find a piece that was the right color for the right price.

It was time to take Dad to Honbaryu, the dumpling shop near gate C4, for our last taste of Taiwan-style xiao long bao. It was somewhat funny that the cashier announced our payment due in U.S. dollars; for once I could pay in local currency. The dumplings were quite good; I’ll miss them.

I had an aisle seat, and there was one seat occupied between me and Dad. While we waited for that passenger, the aisle seat passenger on Dad’s side sat down and they struck up a conversation. By the time the other woman arrived, I think he had concluded that he was having a good time talking with her, and there would be plenty of time to talk with me when we got back home to the ‘States. And soon enough, there we were.

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