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Roy Harris >> Hello from Taipei

3/30/06 3:41 PM
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Roy Harris
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Edited: 30-Mar-06
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 1423
Hello from Taipei, Well, I am finally on my way to Jakarta, Indonesia. It's only been 23 hours since I began my journey and some interest things have happened already. Here's the run down: 1. Thank heavens the dentist solve my recent tooth problem. While the pain is still there, it is a low grade buzz that reminds me I am still human. 2. My train ride on Amtrak from San Diego to LA was pretty painless. 3. When I got to Union Station, I needed to take a bus to LAX. That's when things got interesting. 4. Right before I got on the bus, an elderly gentleman struck up a conversation with me. This gentleman was 70 years old and was traveling to the US for his third time. He was a government official in Thailand for many years, has retired and is traveling the world. To make a long story short, during the 45 minute ride from Union Station to LAX, this gentleman told me about the 35 countries he had travelled to and asked me why I had never been to Thailand. For most of the conversation, all I did was say, "Oh...................Mmhhmmmmm.............really...........uh huh.............wow!" This ol' chap was a nice fellow, and he was traveling with a group of others. I guess they got tired of his stories and so I was chosen as the next person to listen to his adventures around the word. 5. When I got to LAX, the bus driver dropped me off at the wrong terminal because she got Air China mixed up with China Airlines. So I had to walk quite a ways to get to Bradley terminal.........which is usually not a problem. However, my large duffle bag was weighing in at 51 lbs. and I was dragging it everywhere I went. Plus, I had my computer bag on my shoulder (which weighed in at 37lbs.). So dragging 88lbs. around LAX was not my idea of a morning workout. But not to worry............I have been thoroughly Pavelized!!! 6. So, I get to LAX. Go through the screening and check processes without a hitch, and now I have some time to kill. So, I head upstairs to grab a bite to eat at one of the restaurants. As I am eating my food, I am watching people walking to and fro. And suddenly in front of me, I see this woman walking towards me, all decked out like SHE'S ALL THAT! I see another woman, very plain looking, walking away from me, and, the two of them are on a collision course. With only one other person around, these two women decide that neither of them is going to change course and that they are going to force the other woman to change directions. Eventually, the two women meet! Their noses are about 10 inches from each other. Both have stopped walking. Both are waiting for the other woman to change course and walk around them. No other people are standing in this hallway which is about 20 feet wide. Both women look down and wait for the other woman to move first. Then, after a lengthy 9 or 10 seconds, simultaneously, the each decide to move out of the other person's way. However, as one decides to move left, the other moves right and gets in her way. Then they both change course at the same time and run into each other again. Finally, after a huff, an eye roll, a cluck of the tongue and flagrant lip curl, both women walk past each other and continue along their way! And women say men are competitive??!! 7. So, I finish eating my lunch and then head to the gate to get on the plane. Unfortunately, I got stuck in a seat next to the wall. So, for 14 hours, I could not stretch my legs. Of course it didn't make matters any better when the lady sitting next to me starting doing some kung fu fighting in her sleep and kept hitting me! 8. Finally, we land in Taipei. Since my flight to Jakarta doesn't leave until the morning, I purchased a room in a nice hotel in downtown Taipei and need to find a taxi to get to the hotel. While walking through the reception area of the airport, a gentleman walks up to me and says, "Taxi." Red flags are going off all over the place, but I think to myself "This should be interesting!" So, I follow this guy to the taxi. Well, the second red flag that showed itself was the guy didn't take me to the front of the airport where the other taxis were located. Rather, he took me downstairs to the parking garage. The third red flag that went off was when I saw his car. Nothing about it said TAXI. It looked like a personal car. At this point in time, I am thinking, "Should I or shouldn't I?" I'm in the mood for adventure, so I hop in. The fourth red flag occurred when he repeatedly asked me what hotel I was staying at and where it was located. With his heavy Chinese accent, I was having a hard time understanding everything he was saying.....but hey, this is a night for adventure, remember? The fifth red flag that went off was the fact that he used two cell phones to call four people. During one of the conversations, the "supposed" taxi driver handed his phone to me and had me speak with the person on the other end of the phone. I talked with them AND THEY DID NOT understand where I was talking about. Finally, the guy hangs up the phone and continues driving. He drives for another thirty minutes or so and then I see The Riviera Hotel right in front of me. He asks me, "Is this your hotel?" I smile and say "Yes, xie, xie!" I ask him how much do I owe him and he tells me $1500 TWD (which is the equivalent of about $47 USD). I swallow real hard.............smile real big.............then reach into my wallet and hand him $1500 TWD. At that point in time, I was ready to pay just about anything for what I had experienced. So far, this trip to Indonesia is turning out to be quite memorable! I'll write more later. Gotta go catch a taxi back to the airport! Roy
3/31/06 12:43 AM
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Edited: 31-Mar-06
Member Since: 01/18/2003
Posts: 27
How long will you be in Jakarta? I am currently enroute to Dili East Timor but will be in Jakarta in a week. Do they have a BJJ school? Enjoy yourself but be careful...the threat posture in Jakarta is no joke. Terrorism and crime are the real deal there. Most of the media is focused on the middle east and this part of the world does not get as much TV play. I'm part of an advance team conducting security site surveys for an upcoming military deployment. Bombings are routine in Indo and southern RP. Darren
4/7/06 1:43 AM
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Roy Harris
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Edited: 07-Apr-06
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 1426
DarrenMullen, Sorry I am getting to this message late. I was only in Jakarta for four days - Friday through Monday. From what I was told, BJJ is pretty new in Indonesia. I hear there are less than 100 practitioners in the whole country. I also heard that there aren't THAT many schools, per se. While I was in Jakarta, I was able to speak with a security consultant about the recent threat of bombings in Jakarta in early April. His comments were enlightening! Well, I'll be heading back that way next year some time. I do look forward to it!! Take care, Roy Harris
4/8/06 12:55 AM
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John Turner
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Edited: 14-Apr-06 11:35 AM
Member Since: 09/28/2004
Posts: 970

mr. harris,

sounds like the experience was worth it...

best wishes,


4/12/06 3:02 AM
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Roy Harris
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Edited: 12-Apr-06
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 1427
John, It wasn't the money. It was the whole experience. Here's the outline (plus a few points I forgot to write about: 1. I sensed red flag from my first contact with this gentleman. Something was not right from the beginning. 2. Initially, he did not tell me we were going to his cab. I told him I was looking to exchange money before I headed to my hotel. I followed him downstairs because I made the choice to believe he was helping me find amoney changer and a person who could give him directions to my hotel. 3. When we arrive at his car, it is obviously a private vehicle, NOT A TAXICAB. 4. He talks to different people no two different phones. Why he did this? I have no idea. But it did make me feel uncomfortable, especially since I did not get to change any money nor did he initially know where my hotel was before he started driving. 5. He did not drive out of the airport using the exit (like other vehicles). Rather, he drove the wrong direction on the entrance ramp to an unmanned parking area and waited for another vehicle to drive out ahead of him so he coiuld follow close behind and not have to pay for parking. 6. We drove for about thirty minutes before he acknowledged he knew where my hotel was. 7. While $1500 TWD ($47 USD) was a shock to me (because I was expecting to pay $1247 TWD like several websites told me I would pay), when he told me $1500 TWD, he seemed a bit uncomfortable. When the hotel asked me if I needed a ride back to the airport, they had me pay $1447 TWD for a driver. However, this driver (who spoke very good English) drove a Mercedes Limo. So, even though I paid good money for the ride, the experience of it all was unusual. That's all I was saying. Roy Harris

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