Getting to our final destination in China proved to be a little adventure in and of itself. We woke up early and headed downstairs to check out and leave for the airport. The hotel knew that we were leaving early and not only had prepared a little to-go breakfast for us but also the main guest services representative had come to see us of- they were so hospitable throughout our five night stay there.
We were excited when we got in the car and saw that it said 40 minutes and planned arrival well before the rental car return opened. We were making great time then all of a sudden hit stand-still gridlock traffic. My blood pressure was starting to rise precipitously as we had started with a 733 arrival and were up to 815 am before we knew it (for a 1015 am flight and having to get 20 minutes to the airport and check bags).
Debbie was getting nervous at how nervous I was getting but low and behold we made it there in time. After the very slow moving rental return, we arrived at the airport to find the EVA desk to check our bags.
We were really enjoying the check-in process (3 people helping us, who knows why) when we looked down we noticed we had Hello Kitty boarding passes. We made our way to the lounge for some breakfast before making our way to the gate to discover we had one of the rare EVA Hello Kitty planes! The whole thing was decked out from the blankets and pillows to the bathroom accessories and dining materials.
A short flight to Taipei came and went very fast as we cleared transitory immigration and found one of the five places we could spend our 3.5 hour layover. I’ve had my fair share of airport lounge experiences but this was one of my favorites- they had a self serve ice cream setup full of Hagen-Das. It was awesome.
We hung out in the lounge for a few hours before getting a little stir crazy and went on a walk around the airport terminal. We explored the other waiting areas as well as walked through the shopping area until our delayed flight was ready to board. We made our way down to the gate and were saddened to see that we’d no longer be flying on the Hello Kitty plane but instead just a regular flight to Chengdu.
We boarded and were greeted by arguably the nicest flight attendant team we’ve ever encountered. She was so attentive to us even though we really didn’t need anything. We each got to a combination of napping and watching Netflix as even though we hadn’t done anything the travel days seem to wear you out.
We got our bags and tried to use the Chinese equivalent of Uber (DiDi) but we’re having issues locating the driver so ended up in a regular taxi. Another traffic riddled experience and we’d finally arrived at our hotel an hour later despite it being 30 minutes away.
We checked in and discovered that our hotel was one of a few hosting a “sugar and wine festival” which under normal circumstances would have been awesome (we may stop by) but in the moment meant that all of the restaurant options were closed and it was after 8 pm and we wanted some food.
We asked the desk where to get something casual to which they responded where the nearest KFC was. We tried to tell them we’d be fine with some dumplings and they directed us to a restaurant which translated to dumpling dumpling. Upon walking by, we didn’t like that option so naturally at this hour did what all touristy tired Americans would do and found the nearest McDonalds. We ate our food and got stuck in a lovely rainstorm headed back to the hotel before retiring for the evening as early as we could given we had a 730 am desired meeting time with the Pandas tomorrow….
Next up- our only day in Chengdu; the panda research center and a food tour courtesy of Mr. Samuel Hokin
Apologies for any issues with formatting – this one was written in the cab headed to see the pandas