Most of this day I spend in the air. Free airport transportation and checkin were all comfortable, boarding on another large Airbus A330 and installing myself in my seat with at least some legspace (for an average basketball team it would be a good idea to charter a machine with more space between the seats), starting to play around with the on-seat entertainment device I have a good time. There is a beginner’s language course of Mandarin available which I attentively follow, but unfortunately I cannot practice the four basic tones here. I know that you can incidentally say very nasty things if you practice those tones, and the Taiwanese seat neighbor is such a friendly woman. So I stick to reading the Latin transcriptions of ni-hao and her friends.
“The international” by Tom Tykwer is a good movie. I see more movies, read the newspaper, practice phrases, take some notes on my laptop naughtily turning on bluetooth to see the person sitting in front of me has done the same thing, see another movie, listen to some music and the fourteen-hour Pacific crossing is over before I know it.
Taipei is the antipode city (where you would land if you dig a tunnel straight down) of Asuncion, a city that I visited earlier on this trip. It’s an exciting thought for a traveler. I read about antipodes in June’s National Geographic issue. Another pair of antipode cities is Sevilla, Spain and Auckland, New Zealand asj. I will meet my friend Ruby in the Main Station, I can figure out the right entrance by looking at the Chinese characters. Over a glass of iced tea, we contact some people and manage to find a place to stay for the night. A couchsurfer offers us a place inside a university room. We spread out some blankets on a table and sleep to the loud wailing of the air conditioner because it is too darn hot in Taiwan.