After a 12-hour flight from LA to Tokyo, we had a 2-hour lay over. We then flew for another 4 hours and landed at our destination, Taiwan, at 10:30pm, local time.
Note: It was surprising to us that we saw Christmas decorations as soon as we got off the plane. There were poinsettias lining the windowsills of the concourse, Christmas trees were every where in the main terminal and there was garland with Christmas balls hanging from the balconies. It gave a false first impression that we were in an English-speaking country.
Don and I looked at each other with our cart of luggage and went back into the terminal to see how we were going to get a hotel. At this point, it was clear that Taiwan is not set up for English-speaking visitors. There was no one proficient in the language to help us. The hotel counter was closed. A taxi “director” wanted to put us in a cab with no destination.
Don realized we needed NTD (Taiwanese cash) to pay for a cab so decided to take care of that issue first. The ATM would do so easily, but it was hard to know how much money was needed or what the NTD amount translated to in US dollars. We also had no idea how cheap or expensive a taxi or hotel would be…because all that information was in Mandarin. We got a quote from the taxi “director” and made a reasonable guess from there using our handy currency exchange app on the iPhone. (The phone would not connect with the internet, but non-outgoing data worked.) Then we let the taxi “director” hail us a cab in which the driver knew less English than he did. I again took out the iPhone and used our Mandarin phrase app to communicate that we wanted a hotel tonight and the train in the morning. Voila! It worked. Off to the hotel we went.