Friday, August 29, 2008

My brother Jamie comes to Taiwan; Penghu pt.1: Tainan Airport

I haven't written for two weeks because I have been busy. Yesterday was my first day back at school after my two-week vacation. The vacation falls between the end of one academic year and the start of the next. The academic year in Taiwan and Korea starts in August or September whereas in Australia and New Zealand it starts in January or February. The difference seems to be a product of the seasonal difference between the northern and southern hemisphere.

Anyhow, many months ago my brother Jamie booked his time-off from his job so that his vacation time would coincide with mine and he came to stay with us here at the wonderful Music for Haydn complex. Of course we didn't just hang around Jyunping Road eating at the buffet restaurants and buying icecreams from 7-11; we took up the map and ventured forth into strange new worlds to discover what we knew not.

One of the places we went was Penghu island.

This map shows Penghu labelled as the Pescadores with the capital Ma-kung (or Magong, Makong, Magung). I chose this map because it includes part of the coast of Mainland China. You can also see Tainan, where we live.

(Image copied from

From Wikipedia: The Pescadores are an archipelago off the western coast of Taiwan in the Taiwan Strait consisting of 90 small islands covering an area of 141 square kilometers. They are administered as Penghu County, Taiwan Province, Republic of China.

To get to Penghu you can take a ferry or a plane. There had just been a close call with a typhoon and the ferry had been cancelled but the plane was still going to fly so we decided to fly there on Thursday and get the ferry back on Friday. This necessitated a trip to Tainan airport.

Tainan airport is a clean, modern facility with an air of homely intimacy about it, by which I mean that it is quite small for an airport. As a result of being small and not serving international flights, it fails to live up to the promise of larger airports. You can't expect the same luxuries and signs of decadence that you might find at Taipei international (okay, still small relative to other international airports but as big as it gets in Taiwan).

Yes, at Tainan airport there is a convenience store and a restaurant (kind of). Here is Jamie having a quick browse through the dried seafood section.

If you are hungry and want to eat before boarding the plane then you can either buy from the convenience store or sample one of the delights offered by the Frog Family Mexican Restaurant. We had time to spare and space in our stomachs and so we decided to try the "nachos". I don't know exactly what constitutes nachos but what we got was corn chips poured onto a plate, cheese of some kind sprinkled on top and then a quick zap in the microwave and *pow!* - nachos! The worst nachos I have ever had. Damn, if that is nachos then even I can cook great Mexican food. I liked the way that when we asked if we could get nachos, the girl on duty produced an open bag of Doritos from somewhere behind the counter and gave us a uncertain look. By the way, the beer paraphernalia scattered around the "restaurant" (counter with stools at which food was available) led my brother to thinking that he would be able to order a beer. However, the lake of yeasty, malty goodness proved to be a dry one; they don't have any beer.

Jamie browses through the Tainan Airport library corner. I think it would be fair to say that their collection is a bit thin: there are about five books on the shelf. It does look as though they envisaged something greater when they set up this area.

Upon exiting the main airport public space through the main glass doors towards the departure gate, the first thing you are met with is this beautiful garden. Every instance of flora here could be classed as an everlasting: they're all plastic.


Tom Aarons said...

Hey Adrian! I was looking at the flowers in the background of that buffet restaurant shot, and thinking, yep, they're plastic. But a whole plastic garden. That takes the cake! And then tries to jam it in one ear while singing the Barney the Dinosaur song :)

Adrian said...

I'm sure I've seen a plastic Barney around here too, by which I mean a cheap rip-off Barney. I'm not even sure that he was the right colour. While on the subject, my travel pack of tissues features a Garfield with a black head and orange body. And then there's KLG which could be confused with KFC at a distance. I think I'll stop.