Arrival in Taiwan

The 13 hour flight from San Francisco to Taipei was 13 hours but they went by quickly. There are many contributing factors:

1). I flew United Airlines for the first time, and it was great because they served free meals, snacks, and beverages pretty frequently, and they had a great movie collection (there had to be at least 70 movies and TV shows which could be played on command from a personal screen).

After the lights went out (signaling that it’s “nighttime” in the day of the plane. I’m not sure if it was nighttime in California or over the Pacific where the plane was at that moment.), stewardesses walked down the aisles with trays of water cups, and that was something I’d never seen before.

I watched The Grand Hotel Budapest, Transcendence, and Million Dollar Arm, all movies that I’ve had on my watch list. I liked The Grand Hotel Budapest the most because it was funny in a very toned down way and had a very unique style.

I figured out that to avoid jet-lag, you should pay attention to your sleeping schedule in the plane. Since I left San Francisco in the afternoon and would reach Taiwan in the evening of the next day, I stayed awake so that when I reached Taipei, I would be ready to sleep. It worked!

2). I was probably used to sitting down for long periods of time because one month earlier I’d sat in a car for 6 hours each day for 6 days in a , when my family drove from Illinois to California.

Taiwan is really humid and hot. My bedroom in my host mother’s apartment (my host mother is living by herself now because her husband is mostly in China for work, and her son just left for Germany on  Rotary Youth Exchange) is the only place with an AC that is on, but the wifi only works in the humid living room that has its windows open.

The view from the apartment (we’re on the 10th floor) is really cool in the mornings:

The first day here was tough because my host mom took me to a rotary group’s meeting in Yi Lan, which on the north east coast of Taiwan and a one hour drive from Taipei. After a gigantic seafood feast with 13-14 people at one round table, we got a tour of a nature center and a presentation from a professor who works with the Yi Lan community, and then we got another tour from Mr. Coffee (his nickname) who is building a giant 4-5 story coffee factory/museum near the ocean.

Mr. Coffee put a lot of thought into the building. He made sure the roof saves rainwater, and that customers at the museum get plenty of exercises by walking the stairs. The factory/museum was half built, but we walked through all of it. Mr. Coffee made the views really nice from inside the building, with open-air staircases (and even bathrooms with no ceilings) and balconies.

The rotarians were planning a musical event that will take place on the beach in Yi Lan so we scouted out many spots along the coast of the Pacific.

Day 7: Sacramento, California to Palo Alto, California

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This post is five days late because I didn’t have access to wifi after reaching Palo Alto. We are staying on Stanford University’s Campus and didn’t get a modem and router until today. I guess I could’ve gone to a coffee shop or public library to write this post, but we were all busy unpacking and shopping for food and household supplies.

We immediately began noticing some differences between our old home in rural Illinois and our new home in urban California.

Everything in Palo Alto was clean and space efficient.



Some space-saving bike rack

Going to Walmart was comforting because the aisles resembled the ones back in Illinois, but the store was ten times as crowded in Palo Alto.


There were tons merchandise left on the floor and misplaced on the shelves by customers. I would’ve been shocked, but we were warned by others that this was a result of the busy lifestyle that most Californians live.


First meal at home, eaten on a picnic blanket on the floor of the empty living room.


It was like a cheap furniture factory for the first few days.


One of the busiest streets in Palo Alto, El Camino Real.