I got to the airport Wednesday night (thanks to my supercool cousins) and flew out at 2:00 AM Thursday morning. I arrived inTaipei on Friday morning, which was about 14 hours later, and the sun never came up on Thursday.
Taipei is in Taiwan, which is in China, I think. I'm still a little confused about whether it's a country in it's own right, or a territory of China, or what. It's part of China somehow, and I found that China is a very nice country, with an ample supply of fire extinguishers...
I met an American woman on the plane who was returning to Thailand. We hung out for most of the layover. It was really comforting to have someone around who seemed to know what was going on.
I was really thirsty and wanted some water, but I was advised not to drink it from the taps or fountains. There were vending machines with bottled water. They cost 25 each. 25 what? I don't know. We did find a free wireless connection really easily though. I thought it was funny that I had no trouble at all getting a wifi connection, but that I couldn't figure out how to get water. Eventually a little restaurant opened up that took visa and we got a little something to eat and drink.
The gift shop had a bunch of familiar magazines with unfamiliar writing that I couldn't make any sense of. I also had a headache from sleeping in a weird position, or dehydration, or caffeine withdrawal, or all three. If you've ever had a concussion, this is exactly what the whole experience was like. General disorientation, no sense of time, and nice strangers taking care of you. (Everyone is a stranger when you've just had a concussion.)
I caught my next flight and got in to Hanoi 3 or 4 hours later.
I made it through customs, which was a big relief because when I checked in for the flight they told me that I might not be let into the country without a return flight and made me sign a waiver that said they weren't responsible if I was rejected. They let me in though, and after waiting for about an hour, I got my bag and met my coordinator, who took me to the house where I'm staying.
Shot from the balcony...
So I've been settling in since then. I've seen the school, met most of my housemates, seen the local grocery store, bank etc. So far so good.