Sunday, December 18, 2005

False Starts

The bus from Utashinai to the Takikawa train station was half an hour late because of icy roads, and by the time stopped to pick me up thick flakes had formed an inch thick on my clothes and sandals. Hokkaido was in the midst of the heaviest snow dump so far this year.

Snow was whipping down even harder at Chitose airport, but the beautiful woman who checked us in told us the flight would only be slightly delayed, and sure enough, we boarded the plane only half an hour behind schedule. And waited. And waited. And waited.

Three hours later, the pilot came on to announce that the runway had been closed and our flight would be canceled. Flight attendants took our information for booking hotels. And we waited some more. A truck pulled up and began de-icing the wing. Perhaps we would leave tonight after all...and sure enough, the pilot was on the intercom again - a break in the weather would allow us to get off the ground after all.

As we taxied away from the gate, 5 hours after getting on the plane, I saw an army of snowplows working the runway, it seemed like a whole town was mobilized to get us off the ground. The plane rolled into position...and sat there. We waited. Two hours passed. The runway was closed again. Another hour. Our flight was canceled after all. The plane taxied back in, but there were problems finding a gate, because of other planes waiting out the storm. Finally, at 1 am, we walked back into the departure lounge, and by 2 am Tyler and I were asleep in the airport hotel.

We made it to Taiwan eventually - I'm sitting in our ratty little hostel now. I'll try to write about this Gucci/motorbike/street-food city soon.


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4:57 AM  

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