As I sit in Hiroshima Airport waiting for my flight to Tokyo and then to California, my thoughts turn to the airport that I visited this summer: the awesome Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.
I had an 8 hour layover at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. To get from Waki Town to Santa Rosa, I had to take almost every possible form of transportation: walking to Waki Station, local train to Hiroshima, Shinkansen to Hakata, subway to Fukuoka Airport, bus to the International Terminal, and the plane home. Eventually, I’d drive in a car home.
This was my first experience of Taiwan, so I originally wanted to get out of the airport and go look around, but I also didn’t want to get lost or make a mess of my transfer, and there was so, SO much to do just at the airport that I didn’t even have time to get bored. The airport was like a destination in itself.
At some places, you can use Japanese yen or American dollars to pay for things, but there are small bank windows where you can exchange money, so I just traded in my yen for New Taiwan dollars (NT) to use for food and souvenirs.
One interesting thing that you can find in this airport are “prayer rooms,” where you can sit and pray inside without distraction. I’d read about it on the website, but rather than searching for it, I just sort of ran into it while I was exploring. There are three different rooms. The top symbol is not a swastika–it’s actually reversed, and is a Buddhist symbol.
I couldn’t find the Christian door at first, because it’s in a different spot from the other two, and found it shortly after. I didn’t go looking for this room, but I’d seen it on the airport’s website when I was looking for things to do in the airport. I hesitated a little, not sure what I would find, and then opened the door and went in.
The inside looked exactly like the picture. I was the only one there, and it was quiet and cool inside. There was a Bible in Chinese (the thick one with the pink pages), and another one that was called something in roman letters that I didn’t understand. Whenever there’s a flight announcement, it comes on the loudspeaker to the room, so that can be a little distracting, but it’s important that people don’t miss their flights or important information. I thought it was so kind of them to have this room in the airport–I mean, you can pray anywhere, but to have a room to pray quietly in is really something. After I had been there a while, some more people came into the room and started to pray silently, and I slipped out.
I wasn’t really hungry after my Hello Kitty lunch on the plane, but I wanted to enjoy some of my favorite foods no matter what, so I turned in to the Christmas tree cafe (I don’t know what it’s called) to order some shaved ice.
My other favorite part of the airport was the “Airport Library.”
The chairs might look stiff, but they were they were comfortable, and the pillow in back was squishy and nice. On the left, there were computers with what I assume was free internet, and on the right, where I went in, there were places to sit and read. There was a plug in the ground by the lamp next to each squishy chair where you could plug in your phone or laptop. I can’t remember if it was for double or tripe-pronged chargers, but I have an adapter that changes my laptop plug from 3-pronged to 2.
Soft piano music was playing in the background, and I stayed there a while and read a book I’d brought. If you don’t have your own book, though, there are books in the back you can read there, and the bookshelf is separated into sections based on language, like Chinese, English, French, and German. I think I saw Japanese in there too, although more people came in later, so I didn’t go over to look. It was relaxing and quiet. I think there was probably free wi-fi there too, but I hadn’t explored that yet…
…and I did discover free wi-fi in the airport later, as well as computers you could use. I was just walking along and discovered four or five computers lined up along a wall, and used them to send emails to my family. Internet was free on those computers, too, and I saw computers in other places, not just there or the library. I made friends at the airport with another English teacher working in Japan, and she ended up trading seats so we could talk together on the long flight home. All in all, eight hours at this airport did not feel like a long time. Actually, I feel like I probably wouldn’t have gotten to experience the airport if I was just passing through it on my way to a hotel. You can spend a lot of time here enjoying the airport, so if you have to have a layover somewhere, this airport should not disappoint you!