There and back again

La Serpiente was a little bit hard to rouse this morning, but instead of a fight about cereal we went out and got something to eat at the local Starbucks, before a disappointing Mr Donut doughnut, and a more disappointing park in Songshan (a scrubby bit of grass and some old railway carriage). There are hardly any litter bins in Taipei, and although there’s also very little litter, there are bits of trash in the park, which makes me sad.

We got a car to the airport that took us on a route I’d never travelled before, along the coast, looking out at the enormous sea. Check in at the airport was easy, and my gold status with Delta got us access to the lounge, but before that I had a treat for La Serpiente: the Hello Kitty shop in terminal 1. There’s a mound of horrendous Hello Kitty tat, a TV showing Hello Kitty and a slide, and mercifully after twenty minutes La Serpiente had watched enough, and we went to the lounge.

China Airlines’ lounge is one of the nicest I’ve been in, dimly lit with comfortable chairs, like an upmarket hotel lobby. They were setting up for a photo shoot for the China Airlines calendar, so I got to talk to La Serpiente about Hasselblads and off-camera lighting. And she got given biscuits, so she was happy. I’m always nervous taking a small child into a business lounge, especially as she sprinted the length of the entrance hall, but she was a well behaved delight and welcomed by all the staff.

On the flight home, she didn’t sleep at all, instead poking me whenever I began to nod off, and demanding entertainment. There was food, there were Little Miss books, there was a whole book of Hello Kitty stickers, and there was the utter mentalism at around 6pm and the final approach, as the lack of sleep really made its impact. Once in the arrivals hall she behaved like a raving drunkard, alternately running around, weeping and attempting ill-advised gymnastics, until we finally got in the taxi, at which point I had to fight to keep her awake until we got home.

All in all a successful trip although I wouldn’t stay in a windowless hotel room again, and I wish I’d had more of a clue about what to do in Taipei with a three year old. But I think she was mostly happy with her father for the weekend, excepting having to manhandle her back through Changi. Exhausted by this all, but unbroken.


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