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Our Family Trip to Taiwan 2016
Our family took a 10 days tour of Taiwan and Shenzhen in the fall of 2016. Here are some photos and our reflections. It was a most memorable trip.
- Nov. 2016
We spent 3 days in Taipei visiting my aunt and her sons, then 3 days tour of Taitung and lastly 3 days in Shenzhen, China.
Typhoon in 1960
Visiting My Old Neighborhood
We were lucky enough to visit the neighborhood where I grew up. The houses are gone and replaced with other buildings. It was 55 years ago in 1961 when I left Taipei and immigrated to the United States. There was one feature that remained. My cousin was able to locate the narrow staircase that lead from the roadway down to the residential neighborhood. This was where our houses were flooded during typhoons and we had to move all our belongings on top of the kitchen table. The water would rise about 3 feet above ground.
We also drove a few blocks to the location of the grade school that I attended. This school was established over 60 years ago. I attended it from first grade till 4th grade. The school grounds are still there with improvements mainly in the sports arena.
Tour of Taipei
My impression of Taipei is that it is a modern city with great transportation including buses, modern subways and taxis. The night markets are great with all kinds of exotic foods. They were delicious and cheap. The flower market and jade market are huge. We also visited the memorial in downtown Taipei for Dr. Sun Yat Sun, the father of the Republic of China. It was very moving to see the changing of the guards on the hour.
A Guided Tour of Taitung
We joined a tour group organized by the Global Federation of Chinese Business Women who had their annual conference in Taipei. The tour was conducted by the famous tour gulide Lin Lung. They did a fabulous and professional job. There were over 200 participants with 6 tour buses. We boarded a train to HuaLien and then boarded these 6 tour buses. It was an excellent trip with great foods and 4 stars hotels and sightseeing. The highlight of the tour was bike riding through the rice fields. We were also very lucky with the weather conditions. Before our tour, we were warned about possible typhoon. It turned out we had great weather and the rain only came down the last day when we were on the return bus ride.
A special note about the tour organizers. They were wonderful. We sang karaoke on the bus. Some members gave a short description of their home city. It was entertaining and educational. We had people from Seattle, Dallas and Brazil on our bus. Even though we were not part of the conference, we were welcomed and embraced as part of the group. They provided T shirts and snacks throughout the trip. We even participated in the group talent show at the banquet and given special seating up by the stage. Our family had a great time and would recommend anyone to join in their future events.
A Special Kudos to Our Tour Guide
As you would imagine, getting 200 people on a tour is no easy task. Our tour guides, under the direction of Mr. Lin Lung, deserves special mention. They were professional, knowledgeable and friendly. They provided excellent service throughout our tour. I have never seen such details and personalized care. Each person were given a detail booklet of all the events and schedules down to seating tables. A personalized printed summary card was also provided. The extra touch is what makes them special. I would recommend them to anyone wishing to tour Taiwan. You won't be disappointed.
Scene from Home Alone movie
A Minor Miracle...amid a Typhoon
Some people who question the existence of God are always asking where are the miracles? Well, my answer is they are happening every day. Let me relate a small miracle that we were all a part of on this trip.
On the last half hour of our train ride back to Taipei, after a perfect tour experience, I received a text message on my phone. Our flight next morning to Hong Kong was cancelled due to a typhoon. What do we do now? Our planned schedule took us to a hotel near the airport. After checking in, we tried to contact the airline and get some information. We tried to go to their website and it was useless. It was late and most offices were closed for the day. Two of us decided to go to the airport counter to see what were our options. The lady behind the counter was not very sympathetic. There were really two options and none were very good. A flight to Guanzhou would cost us over $600 or else cutting our trip short and return to the US, also at an additional cost. We decided to go back to the hotel and talk things over with the rest of our family. That night, we were exhausted from the day's ordeal and I and others prayed for a better outcome. Early next morning, after breakfast, we decided to go back to the airport to see if we can arrange alternatives. We decided to bring all our luggage with us because we were told the hotel is all booked and we only had the one night. Arriving at the airport, my sister -in-law, who is a Star Alliance member, was able to get a hold of the supervisor. After a quick check, he was able to get all 6 of us onto the Guanzhou flight leaving in 20 minutes. He got on the walkie talkie and told the gate to hold for us. He then rushed us through the check-in, tagged our luggage and then escorted all of us through security and then onto the gate. It was a long haul and we were running most of the way. It reminded me of the "Home Alone" movie where the family was running to catch a flight. Never in all the flight I've flown, was I able to get through in such a short time. We made it to the gate just in time. It was a small miracle. Everything had to fall in place just right for us to do this. I am convinced we had some divine help.
Arriving in Gwanzhou airport, we had hoped that our relative in Shenzhen would order a ride for us. Unfortunately, the text message sent never arrived. We then called our relative in Shenzhen and she was able to order us a van and after about 40 minutes, we were finally on our way. It was suppose to be a 2 hour ride to Shenzhen but because of the typhoon, some roads were closed and there was rain and wind to contend with. We were just glad to be on our way. Luck would have it, just about half hour of reaching our destination, the van had a flat tire. We decided to help our driver replace the tire since that would be the quickest way. Luckily, we had packed some folding ponchos for the trip. In the pouring rain, my son and the driver started on changing the tire. Meanwhile, I was out with an umbrella trying to wave off the speeding cars. It was not a good experience. We made it to the Hotel in Shenzhen and I was relieved that our ordeal was finally over.
Emily Ma's dress factory
A Tour of Shenzhen
After our adventurous trip getting to Shenzhen, we were glad to see our relatives and sample some of the local cuisine. We also had a chance to visit my sister-in-law's(Emily Ma) dress factory about one hour from Shenzhen. It was very impressive to see how dresses are made from design to pattern making and cutting and sewing and decorating... It is a very labor intensive operation and the final products are stunning. These dresses are the one's you see hanging at Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale. We are impressed and very proud of what she has accomplished.
My reflections of Taiwan is all positive. The people were nice, the transportation was smooth. The weather was a bit warm and humid but they were comfortable for the most part. We saw a lot in the short time we stayed. It was sentimental for me to be able to visit my old neighborhood and school. The foods were excellent with the variety and the quality and the tastes. The breakfast buffet were the best with so many choices.
It was a blessing for our family to make this trip. It came about almost by accident where all our schedules were aligned and there were vacation time to be used. Also, an organized tour was available for us to join. They were well organized and the people were very friendly and helpful. That added to our enjoyment and made that part of the trip stress free. Our final leg was also very enjoyable since we were able to stay with our relatives on my wife's side of the family. They treated us with great hospitality and chauffeured us around to see the sights and visit their dress factory.
It will be a while before our whole family will be reunited for such a tour. We are grateful for this opportunity of a life time.
Trip to Taiwan Slideshow by Eric Lee
A Youtube Slide Show
The following is a slide show of our trip. Thanks to my son Jason for helping to create it. Accompanying music are two classic songs of Taiwan.
The first is Mei Hua or "Plum Flower" - It is the National flower of China sang by Teresa Teng.
The second is "Green Island Serenade" - sang by a popular artist Vienna Teng.
Hope you enjoy the show.
My Slide Show of Our Trip
Some Related Info
- 世界華人工商婦女企管協會 Global Federation of Chinese Business Women
- My Trip to China in 2016
Some observations of my vacation to China in the Spring of 2016.
© 2016 Jack Lee