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Almost time to go home for the second time
Hualien (Taiwan) to Bangkok (Thailand), Sep-19-09 / Oct-14-09

Green Island is one of the most visited holiday islands of Taiwan. You won’t see a lot of foreigners there, as you won’t see them a lot in other parts of Taiwan. It is a great experience to see how the average Taiwanese is using his or her holiday time. Most people in Taiwan are not entitled to a lot of holidays, so they want to spend the days that they have, as efficient as possible. That means short and intensive trips to all corners of Taiwan, often in the companionship of fellow travellers. This is also observable on Green Island. Most Taiwanese visit this little island as a daytrip, but that doesn’t really justify the island. The visitors haven’t a lot of hours to spend on the island because the first boat arrives at 11.30 am, while the last boat leaves already at 4.30 pm. But that doesn’t spoil the fun for most Taiwanese tourists. They spend their time on the island as efficient as possible by renting a scooter and zooming from highlight to highlight. A lot of time to experience the beautiful environment by doing a hike, or to enjoy a nice juice on one of the terrace, isn’t available. If you want to visit the island, plan to spend at least a couple of days because it gives you also the opportunity to visit the beautiful salt water hot spring, one of the absolute highlights of the island.

After our visit to Green Island, off the east coast of Taiwan, we crossed the country to the west coast to visit the cities Kaohsiung and Tainan. This stretch is normally done by train, but because of the result of typhoon Marakot, a part of the stretch was temporarily unusable. For that reason we took the bus from the city of Taitung to Kaohsiung. Both Kaohsiung and Tainan are nice cities, but not very special. The cities are modern and busy, but have some temples that are worth while a visit. And of course, as in other parts of Taiwan, the people are very friendly and enjoyable. The next thing we wanted to do is to bring a visit the Alishan region, in the mountainous heart of the country. However, when we arrived in Chiayi to take the small mountain train to the Alishan region, people of the visitor centre told us that it was not advisable to go there because of the impact of the Marakot typhoon. The road was heavily damaged and the train was temporarily out of order. After this disappointment we decided to travel back to Taipei because we wanted to do some more daytrips in the northern part of the country. The next day we went to Taipei’s zoo. The weather was still beautiful, but when we saw the weather news in the evening on BBC, we were told that a new typhoon was developing hundreds of kilometres east of the Philippines, the country that was hit a week earlier by the devastating typhoon Ketsana. More than 600 people lost their lives. When the BBC also told us that the new typhoon, named Parma, was expected to graze the northern part of the Philippines and than to head to Taiwan, we had a dilemma.

A sign to protect the little wildlife on Green Island
The expectation was that the typhoon would hit Taiwan on October 6th, exactly on the day that we planned to fly back to Kuala Lumpur (often called ‘KL’). But because we also booked a flight on October 8th from KL to Bangkok and on October 15th from Bangkok to Europe, we were a little bit nervous. If Parma would really hit Taiwan, it would be a possibility that the flights to and from Taiwan would be cancelled for a couple of days, meaning at least that we would miss our flight from KL to Bangkok. That wouldn’t be the biggest problem. If we should miss also the flight to Europe, and later on the flight to the USA on October 21st, that would be a real problem. It didn’t take long to decide to start up our laptop and to log in on the Air Asia website to change our flight to KL from October 6th to October 2nd. So, way before the date that Parma was expected to hit Taiwan, we fled the country after an enjoyable stay. Fortunately, it turned out that Parma indeed grazed the northern part of the Philippines, but that it never reached Taiwan. It lost power above the sea, somewhere between the Philippines and Taiwan. We mainly spend our extra days in KL with shopping, lovely eating in Little India and drinking a lot of coffee on one of the nice terraces in the centre of the city. During one of the relaxing moments on the terrace we concluded that it was possibly our last visit to KL for the coming time. We have visited this city approximately eight times during the last one and a half years, mainly because KL is the hub of Air Asia. Besides that, the fact that Malaysia doesn’t ask for a visa for most nationalities, the country is a great and easy stopover for visits to other countries in the region.
A street scene in central Tainan

On October 8th we flew to Bangkok, a city where we feel ourselves really at home. We have a nice hotel in the city centre, a great little restaurant with tasty dishes and even an own dentist, where we made an appointment for October 9th for a regular check-up. The dentist that did the check-up didn’t notice any problems, but the dentist that did the cleaning of Edwin’s teeth, discovered a leaking filling. An x-ray was made just to be sure that the leaking of the filling was seriously enough to undertake action. It indeed was, and an appointment for the next day was immediately made. The filling of the tooth wasn’t that easy, because it was the tooth that was filled provisionally two years earlier in India when a part of it broke off while eating peanuts. However, an hour later everything was fine and our teeth were ready for the third stage of our journey.

We used the remaining days in Bangkok mainly for shopping purposes. We had to buy some presents for our nephews and niece to prevent arriving in Europe with empty hands. Besides that, the December 5th is approaching, the day that most people in The Netherlands celebrate the Sinterklaas event (more information about Sinterklaas here). We wanted to buy already as much as possible presents for this celebration, and Bangkok is a great place to do it. So, our backpacks are standing jam-packed in the corner of our little hotel room, in anticipation of our journey back home. We packed the heaviest stuff, like books, in our hand luggage because we are not sure if we stay below the maximum allowed weight for the check-in luggage. Tonight we go for the last time to our favourite little restaurant and afterwards we go to bed early. The taxi picks us up tomorrow morning at the hotel around 07.00 am for the one hour drive to the airport. Then it is another eleven hours of flying before we are temporarily home again. We are really looking forward to it.


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