Diane, Tainan, Taiwan, notice the rhymes? Was this a sign that I was meant to reach the place? Or was it a mere coincidence? Whatever it is, Taiwan would always have a special place in my heart. It served as the place where I experienced many firsts in my entire life. Taiwan was the place where I made my first international flight alone, my first trip abroad and more importantly, it hosted my first ever international research presentation.

I flew to Taiwan in an economy plane. As a result, my flight was scheduled on those wee hours. I left Manila at 11:30 pm and arrived at around 1:30 am in Taoyuan Airport. My original plan was to reach Tainan, the venue of my conference, through the High Speed Train. To my surprise, I learned that their train does not operate 24/7. The first trip starts at 6:30 am. Whew! As it was my first trip alone, I felt so nervous inside the airport. Well to be honest, I was the only person left in the arrival area of Terminal 1. I asked for suggestions from the lone English speaking airport personnel. Mr. Courteous Airport personnel sought the assistance of a heaven sent English speaking national, who incidentally made a recent trip to the Philippines. They suggested alternative means for me to reach Tainan. My problem was resolved by the 24/7 U Bus roaming around Taiwan.

The shuttle bus arrived at 3 am and I was transported to the 24/7 central bus station. Another non-English speaking man helped and sold me NTD (New Taiwan Dollar) 300 ticket to Tainan. At 3: 30 am, I was already on board to Tainan. It was during this time when my mother was scolding me through a series of text messages. She was not supportive of my decision to take the bus alone. She insisted that I wait inside the airport for like 4 hours. The hard headed me however prevailed. I braved the cold and dark streets of Taiwan.

I never felt an inch of sleepiness inside the bus, despite the fact that I was up the entire night. After 4 long hours, I safely reached Tainan. The bus driver referred me to a taxi that brought me to my hotel. I will forever be thankful to the Taiwanese because of these few helpful people I encountered. Despite the fact that most of them do not speak and understand the international language I know, they exerted all means to help the clueless tourist in me.

So much story about my journey to Tainan. Allow me now to share a few pictures of the safe, peaceful and beautiful Tainan

My first shot of Tainan

Far Eastern Shangri-la Plaza lobby
In case anyone among you would be interest to travel in Tainan, I highly recommend Far Eastern Shangri-la Hotel. It may not be as grandiose with the interiors of the  Philippines' Shangri-la hotels but their service counted the most. The staff can fluently speak in English, very accommodating and responsive to the needs of the customers. The breakfast buffet is one of the best I've tried, wifi connection is fast and can even be extended in the comfort of your own rooms.

Aerial View of Tainan inside my suite
Tainan downtown
Motorcycles are the most common form of public transportation in Taiwan. Only a few people own cars. In effect, most parking spaces are occupied by these bikes.

How I wish residential sites in the Philippines would have something like this. Clear sidewalks, benches and some sparks of greeneries.

Here is the university that hosted my presentation
National Cheng Kung University

Allow me to first catch up with my teaching tasks. On my next posts, I will share more pictures and stories about my experience in Tainan.