Taiwan/Japan 2018 – Day 5 – Goodbye Taiwan and Hello Japan!

Goodbye Taiwan

We had a quick breakfast at the same place as yesterday, Fu Hang Soy Milk.

After returning to our hotel and checking out, we walked for about 10 minutes to the Airport MRT station. Although on paper (at least according to Google), the bus gets you to the airport quicker, the MRT definitely surpasses it in terms of convenience.

Major airlines allow you to check in and get your boarding pass right from the MRT station, before you even leave downtown. And provided it isn’t more than 3 hours before your departure time, you can even check your back at the MRT station before embarking on the train.

The express MRT train takes about 40 minutes to reach the airport.

Once you exit the turnstile at the airport, if you have any balance left on your EasyCard, you can stop at the customer service counter to cash out your balance. However, be advised that the NT100 used to purchase the card initially is not refundable, only the money you loaded onto it.

Onward to Japan!

Final Notes on Taiwan

But before I close out on Taiwan entirely, I want to share a couple of miscellaneous tips from our trip:

  • Don’t be shy about taking busses. While the subway may seem less intimidating, Taipei’s buses are clean, reliable, and extremely convenient. The system can be easily navigated with Google Maps.
  • Except for the breakfast establishments, Taiwan gets going fairly late in the day. If you like to sleep in, this is an ideal destination for you. None of the areas we visited felt very “alive” before 11 am.
  • WiFi is everywhere. We have a T-Mobile plan which gives us free data roaming, but in Taipei you almost don’t need it. Restaurants have WiFi. Hotels have free WiFi. Many major tourist sites have free WiFi. Even busses and subways have free WiFi.
  • Cash is still convenient to have, especially for smaller restaurants. Don’t plan on using your credit card for everything.

Arriving in Japan

Our flight was delayed by about 30 minutes due to the runways being used for landing being changed. We at Kansai International Airport around 4 pm. Immigration took a little over an hour to clear. Japan has a unique system where an attendant helps you scan your passport and fingerprints at a kiosk and then you go line up for the actual immigration officer, presumably to make things more efficient.

We took a combination of JR train and subways to reach our hotel. JR runs a couple of the lines that run from the airport (the other company being Nankai). To purchase tickets for trains in Japan, you find the ticket vending machine and enter in your destination. The machine determines the correct price, collects fare, and dispenses a ticket which you use to go through the turnstile.

However, one thing we overlooked when going through these motions is that there is a “rapid” train and a “limited express” train that basically follow the same route from the airport into central Osaka. The later requires the purchase of an additional seat ticket (either reserved or unreserved), while the former requires only the fare between two stops. We were exhausted from traveling and gave up on figuring out how to get ticket for the faster “limited express” train, but as a result had a lot more stops and a less luxurious ride into town. (Note that you have to pay attention to which train you’re getting on, as there is no barrier or turnstile to prevent you from going to the platform with the “limited express” train when you only have fare for the “rapid” train).

One train and two subway lines later, we were at our hotel, well past 7 pm.

We had dinner at an udon noodle place less than a block away: Tsurutotan. Large selection of udon offerings, plus some hot pot style things and sushi. Would eat again.