On my previous trip to Taiwan, I spent a good 7 hours in her Taoyuan International Airport, waiting for the arrival of Constant Companion RR. I knew beforehand about the length of my wait, but boy, was I unprepared for it.
Could not get much sleep during the 4 hours on the plane. On top of that, I had to work in the day before my flight. I landed in Taiwan around 5am, all dazed and sleepy. As usual, I was eager to get out of my seat and stretch out my limbs a little. Grabbed my little carry-on bag and made my way out, pass a couple of smiling air-stewardesses.
The first thing that hit me as I stepped out of the plane was the freezing temperature. Not sure if I imagined it, but I thought I could see my breath as I proceeded to get my passport cleared by Taiwan’s customs. I did not have a proper jacket; not on me, not in my luggage. With at least 6 hours of wait ahead of me, I wondered why did I not pack a warmer coat for this trip? Then I remembered what Constant Companion RR told me and I paraphrased.
“Taiwan is just cooling this time of the year. You don’t need to bring any thick jackets; might be too warm. If needed, we can always pop by the stores and buy one.”
Mumbling (more visible breath) to myself how foolish I was to take Constant Companion RR‘s advise, I zipped my thin, cotton wind breaker up to my neck.
Breezing through the customs and the collection of my luggage, I quickly found myself at the arrival hall of Taoyuan International Airport Terminal 1. As it was an ungodly hour, there was hardly any people else.
The emptiness of the hall seemed to make the cold temperature colder, as I hunkered down and braced myself for the wait.
The next 7 hours was a blur; today, I can only remember bits and pieces of it. Perhaps it is just my mind trying to protect itself by forgetting.
What took place was a little like Tom Hank’s “The Terminal” except a lot less heart-warming, entertaining or fun (especially for me).
6 am – Taoyuan International Airport Terminal 1 has one convenient shop, located at the basement. It was opened, and there were food and beverages. I made a purchase of the ready-to-eat and, most importantly, hot oden available in the shop with a bottle of coffee.
Then I settled down, ate my oden and drank my coffee. Then I made the first of many trips to the gents before settling down at a different seat (just to keep things varied).
Despite having “accomplished” so many tasks, my watch informed me that this was only the first hour and my inadequate windbreaker was already cool to the touch.
7 am – Getting quite comfortable at my seat. Sat slouched down, legs stretched outwards. It was just chilly enough to be annoying. I tried to remain motionless as much as possible, arms crossed and windbreaker’s hoodie on, to retain my body heat.
Caught myself dozing off a couple of times even.
8 am – The few shops in Terminal 1 were still closed. Started to see more crowds. A group of Filipinos tourists sat down nearby. To stimulate my brain, I listened to their conversations. Did not mean to eavesdrop; they were just really loud.
My rowdy, new found friends kept me engaged for a good 15 minutes before they got up and left. Lucky them.
9 am – Oh hey, interesting ceiling.
10 am – Took the skytrain and visited Taoyuan International Airport Terminal 2. It was bigger and newer with lots of things going on. More shops, more people.
It was good distraction from the frigidness I felt in my bones.
11 am – Back in Terminal 1. Saw a group of youngsters loitering, all wearing the same t-shirt with the printed word “G.E.M.”. With a quick Google search, I found out “G.E.M.” is a singer from Hong Kong. I wondered if I would be able to see a celebrity this trip? I did not.
By now, all the shops were opened for business. I was having a breakfast sandwich at Subway when Constant Companion RR texted me from the plane.
It was a little time past 12 pm when Constant Companion RR arrived, looking all warm and comfortable in fancy, thick, insulating clothing. A little too warm and comfortable, I must say.
As though to add insult to injury, Constant Companion RR brought at least 2 different coats for this trip.
This is an incident I still bring up every now and then just to guilt-trip Constant Companion RR or/and as a reminder about the reliability of Constant Companion RR‘s advises.