Monday, October 13, 2014

"Again?  How many super-storms must I endure?" I thought when I saw the weather projection.  I was in Taiwan for a 17-day work trip, my first, and low and behold but a typhoon comes right to the island.  Oh, and not just some typhoon, this happens to be Super Typhoon Zeb; still on the list of the top 15 largest storms ever.  And this wasn't my first rodeo with top 15 storms.  I'd already been directly through Hurricane Gilbert in Cancun, Mexico in the late 1980s and that too was larger than Katrina.

Now having been directly in a full Cat-5 storm, I know exactly how terrifying that is.  Last time the wind blew parallel to my hotel window and the sheer force of 170mph winds blew the rain through the window frame and flooded my room.  The noise from that one was so horrific I had to take turns listening to music on headphones so that I didn't have to hear the freight-train like storm directly overhead.

Out on the Coast...not exactly your wading in the water weather...
So fast forward many years to Taiwan and here I go again.  Only this time I was in Taipei and had a mountain range protecting us from the brunt of the full storm.  After many hours trapped inside the hotel while the city shut down, I got bored.  It didn't sound bad outside?  I convinced a friend of mine to venture outside for a walk.  How bad could it be?

They have those "run away" signs at the coast for a reason...
So unwittingly we took off down the street thinking, "this isn't that bad at all."  Block after block we headed and nothing.  The streets felt eerie.  Normally this is a bustling melting pot of urban dwellers going about their busy lives.  Today they were silent and empty.

A friend of mine plays "Superman" as we notice a downed
tree stump that wasn't down when we first started our walk
After about 10 blocks we rounded a building corner at a side street and got blasted by a ferocious wind.  It was enough for both of us to quickly say, "Run away"...and so we quickly made our way back to the hotel.

We did get a chance to do some tourism despite the storm.  The weather preceding it and after was just fine.
But on the way back, it was if the typhoon had been stealthfully and secretly following us on our "stupid walk" because with each block we retraced, there existed carnage from wind damage.  Trees were blown over, motorcycles toppled, statues laying in the street.  When did this happen?  We were just here and it was fine!

Crap...this eliminates nearly all Walmart shoppers...
Just before we got back to the hotel the wind swept through a side street and poured onto our main street with a vengence and happened to catch a motorcycle that was as stupid as we were for being outside.  The motorbike crashed into the street right in front of us.  I quickly went out to help but they didn't seem to want any help and quickly fled away.

The obligatory "stand in front of the monument" photo pose...
We made it back to the hotel without further incident and after another 24 hours of boredom watching the cockroaches scramble out of the sugar bowls in the dining room, the storm finally blew over.  The general consensus was that we journeyed while the eye was over and then got caught as the back half of the storm ascended and just got lucky we weren't in a spot when the winds amped back up again.

I think the work dinner to Hooters happened just so they would have fun
at how we would explain THAT to our spouses back home...
The thing about hurricanes and typhoons?  They don't last a really long time and beyond the devastation they wreck, weather-wise things return back to normal pretty fast.  We had the opportunity to get in some touristy visits during the remainder of our stay.

I never knew Edward Scissorhands lived in Taiwan...
I must confess, I haven't been back to Taiwan since.  I half expect that if I do, another super-typhoon might come to visit me.  I seem to attract them...

Everything is crowded in Taiwan so why shouldn't the local pond be too?


  1. Only you, Ed, only you! It must have been very strange to see Taipei without all those scooters around.

  2. reforminggeek - It was! One day it's packed, the next it's like a post-apocalyptic movie set. I enjoyed getting out of the city there though.

  3. Wowzers! I have had my share of typhoons while working in South Korea but nothing quite that powerful.

  4. Samual - Yeah, I seem to attract these things. Nowadays when I go into a storm prevalent place I make sure it is not anywhere near hurricane/typhoon season...

  5. I've always wanted to go to Taiwan!

    Typhoons come quite often to Japan as well. I remember once being in Okinawa (close to Taiwan) when a typhoon came and flew north to Shikoku, only to be chased down by the same typhoon again! But you're right, they are gone in a few hours or so and it's not too bad most of the time :)

  6. Kaori - Very true. Japan has to deal with a lot: Earthquakes, typhoons, the latest American craze, etc. I need to write a post on my trip to Japan. No disasters visiting other than making the mistake of standing close to the door during rush hour on the subway...