Airport Ponderings

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca

I can’t say that I have anything truly revelatory to impart upon readers (whatever readers I may have at this point) about true cultural insights or experiences (a statement which implies that I do occasionally have those), but Taoyuan decided to advance itself in the world and provide its patrons with free wi-fi, courtesy of hi-net, so I thought I’d take advantage of it and feel like I was doing something worthwhile and, well, blog.  That being said, airports truly are stellar places, no joke.  They’re fantastic for people watching.  Granted, it is a drag when you have to wake up at 2 to get to airport (like I have had to twice in the past month), but seriously.

When I first arrived at my gate this morning, there was no one else here.  I’m pretty sure that was a first.  Then one woman walked out of the bathroom, and a foreigner (here denoting a white, non-Taiwanese person) walked down the stairs.  I decided it was time to go explore the terminal.  In my sojourns, I decided that I was on a quest for a bottle of Coca-Cola.  Unfortunately, I only had a 100 NT bill with me, and the vending machine wouldn’t take bills and the shops were so ridiculously expensive there was no way I was going to buy when there.  So, I mustered up my courage, went into a high-class looking tourist shop, and stunned myself by asking in somewhat decent chinese whether the xiao jie could give me change for a hundred.  We even had a nice little three line conversation in Chinese.

But I think the best part about airports is the foreigners.  And yes, I’m still talking about white people.  Especially in Taiwan.  When I walk into an airport here in Taiwan and see a foreigner, for some reason I automatically think, “Hey, what are you doing on my turf?”  It’s not like the airports not big enough for more than one foreigner, but for some reason, I feel very possessive of my rights as the “mai guo ren.”  I often peg the other foreigner as being an inexperienced traveler.  And yet, ironically enough, when you’re passing a foreigner in the terminal, you always seem to catch the other person’s eye…


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