Slept in very late today; finally managed to get out of bed, get ready, pack my bags, and check out. I then left my luggage at the hostel while I traveled to the the Grand Hotel in Taipei. The hotel was built in 1952 and the main building (at 87 meters) was completed in 1973. It is built in a traditional Chinese style and has hosted many dignitaries such as Charles Bronson, as well as lesser men such as Governor William Jefferson Clinton. I walked from the nearby metro station to the hotel and then walked inside to see its grand lobby. Afterwards, I wandered around inside for a little while and then outside for some time. After a satisfactory visit, I took the metro back to the hostel. Since I still had time to spend before getting to the airport, I tried boba milk tea, which has “black pearls” (i.e. tapioca balls) in it; as expected it was delicious.
Finally, I grabbed my bags, took the subway to the Taipei Main Station, and from there took a bus to the airport. After a long long to check-in, I went through security and immigration – the immigration workers have recently been taking longer and longer studying my picture in my passport to confirm I am who I say I am on account of my mustache, beard, and hair growth. I then had a meal at a Taiwanese restaurant in the airport which consisted of slices of pork, rice, pork soup, tofu cubes (possibly “stinky tofu”), spicy peanuts, a dessert of sweetened milk with red beans, and beer. Then, after a delay to board the plane and yet another delay to take off, I was finally heading to Manila an hour after the scheduled departure time thanks to baggage still being loaded and forms being filled out; I deduced that the only logical conclusion for this was due to the employees incompetence. I was seated in “Fiesta Class” (i.e. Economy) and served a meal of pork and rice, a cake, beer, and wine. I was also served an unrequested bottle of water which spilled all over me. The flight attendants apologized profusely, but I could really care less; after all, I’ve been wet with sweat each day since Beijing and at least it was water, now if it had been coke, that would have been a sticky situation.
Finally, we landed at Manila, I grabbed my bags, grabbed cash at an ATM, asked a security guard where the taxis were located, he pointed to a female on a headset who was in the process of ordering me a cab when she told me it was a fixed rate (oh fuck . . . ), I checked the converted price (she told me 1,360 pesos, which comes to $31.18 USD), this price quote did not pass the common sense test, so I told her to forget it, she lowered it to 1,000 pesos, but I don’t like doing business with thieves so I ignored her, I went back to the security guard to ask about taking a bus, he told me the route but added that a taxi would be better, he then pointed me to the yellow taxi cabs which have meters installed in them (he probably gets a cut for sending tourists to the other taxi company), and I took a metered taxi to the hostel I was staying at. The price for the metered cab turned out to be 290 pesos ($6.65 USD, that’s a $24.53 USD difference!). So, in conclusion, never ever take a taxi with a fixed fare, you will get fucked; taxi drivers and companies that offer fixed fares are the shit of the earth; taxi drivers and companies that have meters are slightly better.
I then made it to the hostel, had some drinks designed for hydration – I was thirsty -, and then went to bed . . . and then finally went to sleep despite all the noise from the street below.