I’ve written a couple of posts about my trip to Hong Kong with the Pitchin Bitches and even created a comic strip with them there. But I didn’t properly introduce them here.
So who are the Pitchin Bitches?
We are group of four ladies who used to work together at MediaCorp. Used to, because half of the Pitchin Bitches left MediaCorp late last year, even before we travelled to Hong Kong together.
Last year, while still in MediaCorp, all four of us came together to work on several pitches for TV shows. We came up with and developed about 8 ideas, and of those, 3 were picked up and eventually filmed and aired. The four of us had to present these concepts to upper management and we decided to give our group a name as we wanted the pitch to be fun. And so the Pitchin Bitches was born.
The show that pushed the Pitchin Bitches to travel together was called Spouse For House. You can watch the pilot of the sitcom below.
It’s not a travel show, so how did it get us out of the country? Well, we were quite stressed out by the concept meetings for Spouse for House on top of all the work we were previously assigned, so when we saw that Scoot was offering an awesome flight deal to Hong Kong, we decided we needed to take a break and fly away. And so we did. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Last year, the Pitchin Bitches has so much fun together in Hong Kong, we decided to go on another Pitchin Bitches trip in 2015. So despite hectic schedules, and even though two of the Pitchin Bitches are no longer working in MediaCorp, we made it! To Taipei! In fact, we’re now starting to plan for #PitchinBitchesInGC&Brissy!
But first, let’s have a brief look at #PitchinBitchesInTW.
#1: Mishap – Passport Validity
6am on the day of our departure, we took our first “hit” when we found out that Taiwan is very strict about passport validity. Apparently, to go to Hong Kong, you only need at least one month’s validity on your passport. For Taiwan, you have to have 6 months, no less. And they mean business.
We were set to depart on September 28 but one of the Pitchin Bitches’ passport was going to expire on March 25, 2016. This means that my friend was just 4 days shy of the required 6 months to go to Taipei.
Yup! She was refused entry to Taipei! She couldn’t even check in!
Okay, so we panicked for a tiny second. But we regrouped and got our friend to rush to ICA once it opens at 8am with her passport, IC, and bags to get a temporary extension. Once she got that, she was told she also had to apply for a visa at the Taiwan consulate. Next order of business, she had to get a new return ticket to Taipei.
We had booked 2-to-go tickets on Cathay Pacific and I initially worried if two people were gonna be stuck in Singapore, denied entry to Taiwan. But thankfully, because we were travelling in a group of 3, no one else needed to be left behind. If it was just 2 people, both must fly together or the solo passenger needs to pay full fare.
Moral of the story, check that your passport has at least 7 months validity just in case. My passport expires in November next year, so I’ll have to take care with regards to all travel plans in 2016.
Blessing in disguise: The lady at the check in counter informed us about it before we got stuck in Hong Kong with no way to fix this. Also, our flight was early in the morning so Chewie could get to ICA first thing in the morning. Plus, Chewie totally avoided our next big event – Typhoon Dujuan.
#2: Adventure – Typhoon Dujuan
When we planned our trip to Taipei last year, we knew we wanted to go at the end of typhoon season so we have a higher chance of avoiding a typhoon. And although we knew that end September is still risky, we thought we’d be relatively safe from encountering one.
Well, we thought wrong. Check out this year’s Pacific typhoon season!
Just before our trip, we learnt that Category 4 Typhoon Dujuan was expected to hit land close to midnight on September 28. That was the day we were due to land as well. We were scheduled to land at 3pm on that day. So we knew we would have about 7 hours to get from the airport to our apartment.
So how bad was Typhoon Dujuan?
The twenty-first named storm and the thirteenth typhoon of the annual typhoon season, it was the second most intense tropical cyclone of the Northwest Pacific Ocean in 2015 in terms of ten-minute maximum sustained winds! It caused 3 deaths and 376 injuries in Taiwan. During the first landfall, the weather station in Su’ao, Yilan observed the maximum gust at 68.4 m/s (246 km/h) and maximum sustained winds at 40.4 m/s (145 km/h), and that gust became the second strongest of the station in history.
Say hello to Typhoon Dujuan over Taiwan on September 28, 2015.
Click here if you want to know what wind speeds the different colours represent.
Yeap. Typhoon Dujuan was bad. We saw motorcycles lying on its side in the middle of the road, ripped billboard signs strewn across the road, tree branches blocking the entire length of roads, and the bus we took shook so much that at times I thought the whole bus would topple over.
I experienced my first full blown natural disaster on this trip and I’m glad I had my Pitchin Bitches with me along for the ride.
Blessing in disguise: We got into Taipei just in time, other flights that left after we did got cancelled. We experienced Taiwanese kindness in the form of a young uber driver!
#3: Mishap – Injured & Intoxicated In The Pouring Rain
One of the Pitchin Bitches was getting married this November and so we wanted to do a hen’s night for her in Taipei. We had thought of hiring a stripper for her or paint the town red getting her to do stuff like brides-to-be in American films and TV shows do. Instead, we decided to find a speakeasy and chill out together. Of course we did ask her some very personal questions after we got our drinks.
We chatted from 9pm all through the night and only left when the staff at Alchemy informed us at 2am that they’re now closed. When we got out of the place, it was pouring cats and dogs. We managed to get to a cab with our umbrellas and got back to the apartment by 3am.
I was sitting closest to the door at the side of the nearest shelter so I hurriedly tried to open my umbrella once the door was opened. Something wasn’t quite right as the umbrella refused to open up and stay up. But it was pouring down heavily and I was getting drenched by the second. So I forced it open and managed to get it to stay up but I also felt a sharp pain on the index finger of my left hand.
Uh-huh, I sliced the side of my index finger with a wire that was broken and sticking out where it shouldn’t be. I thought it was a bad cut because the blood wouldn’t stop flowing and started dripping on the wet floor. I applied pressure on it and used a tissue to stop the bleed. After about 2-3 minutes I finally got the bleeding to stop.
Then I remembered I had a hand sanitizer in my bag so I got it out and applied it on the wound hoping to be able to clean the wound. Bad move. My wound split open and started bleeding again. Then I used a wet tissue with anti bacterial qualities to stop the bleed, except the wet wipes seemed to suck more blood out of my cut! All in all, it took me about about 10 minutes to get the bleeding to stop.
Showering with just one hand was not easy especially when mildly intoxicated. The next morning, I checked if all my blood had been washed away by the rain and spotted a drop of blood still on the floor.
I realised now why I was bleeding more than usual. Alcohol is a blood thinner which causes it to flow more easily and makes it harder to clot. And I had three rather strong cocktails that night just before the little mishap.
Blessing in disguise: I had an excuse to use my raincoat, trash the broken umbrella and get a new automatic one that is huge and can withstand strong winds. I also learnt that Taiwan is known for their good sturdy umbrellas.
#4: Adventure – Typhoon Mujigae
On our last night in Taipei, we were informed that our flight out of Taipei at 0805 would be delayed 45 mins. We were busy packing and didn’t think much of it. We realised that the delay was due to Typhoon Mujigae that was closing in on Hong Kong early that morning only when we reached the airport.
We were flying Cathay Pacific and the route included a stopover in Hong Kong. As you can see from the image below, the first leg of our journey would have to endure the wake of the strong winds from the Category 4 typhoon before being able to land at Hong Kong. Hence the delay in departure time.
Because our flight to be delayed, we would miss our connecting flight out of Hong Kong to Singapore. And the lady at the counter told us that we had to rebooked our connecting flight out of Hong Kong before checking in to our 0850 flight to Hong Kong!
We did as we were told, but the queue was so long I feared we would not be able to rebook our flight before the check in counter for our flight to Hong Kong closes. And sure enough, we barely moved 3 metres!
While I stayed with the our luggage, Pamy and Shuping went to look for the lady at the counter to find out if she could get us on the flight to Hong Kong then we’ll figure out how to get from Hong Kong to Singapore after we land. And as luck would have it, that lady was no longer at the check in counter!
The girls then approached the Information Counter for help and found out that all the later flights from Hong Kong to Singapore were fully booked anyway. So even if we got on the 0850 flight we would still be stuck at the airport! Thankfully, the lady they approached, Ms Apple, was really helpful and managed to get us back home to Singapore by putting us on a direct flight from Taipei on another airline – EVA Air.
At the time, all I knew about EVA Air was that they had just did a huge ad campaign to promote the fact that a Hello Kitty Jet would now be flying the Singapore – Taipei route. It created a lot of buzz in Singapore. In fact, they also rolled out a double decker bus to promote their Hello Kitty Jet. I took notice because the Hello Kitty bus was going to service the number 14 route, the bus I frequently take as it passes my home. So despite feeling stressed about getting home from Taipei, all three of us wondered if we were going to be flying on the Hello Kitty plane.
After rushing from one terminal to the other, we found out at EVA Air’s check in counter that we would be flying home on the Hello Kitty Jet.
Blessing in disguise: We got back to Singapore slightly more than an hour earlier than we would have if all went as originally planned. Also, the flight from Hong Kong to Singapore was delayed for more than 3 hours! So, we got lucky really.
Looking back at this trip, our vacation in Taipei was a series of unfortunate events that didn’t turn out too badly for us in the end. If I could have a do-over, the only thing I’d change was more Taiwan dollars.
Although… for Chewie, besides changing more money, she’d probably want to change the part about her passport as well.
What do you think?
Have you ever experience a typhoon first hand before? Or been denied entry to a country? Have a travel experience that beats ours hands down? Share it with us.
- Typhoons In Taiwan (taiwanese-secrets.com)
- Passport expiry dates and blank pages: what are the rules? (theguardian.com)
- Singapore Passport Application / Extension (mfa.gov.sg)
- Typhoon Dujuan: 3 Dead, More Than 350 Injured in Taiwan; Nearly 750,000 Homes Without Power (weather.com)
- 19 dead, 4 missing after Typhoon Mujigae hits China, setting off tornadoes (edition.cnn.com)
- Hello Kitty Jet Story (evakitty.evaair.com)
- Sneak peek: Hello Kitty-themed flight taking off from Singapore (channelnewsasia.com)
- 15 Must-Get Souvenirs from the EVA Air Hello Kitty Jet (alvinology.com)
- Complete Guide to the EVA Air Hello Kitty Jet Experience (viewfromthewing.boardingarea.com)
- 10 Things to Expect Flying with EVA Air’s Hello Kitty Jet (asia361.com)
- Ride on a Hello Kitty-themed public bus in Singapore (herworldplus.com)
- Feature: EVA Air Hello Kitty Bus (publictransportsg.wordpress.com)
- Hello Kitty Bus in Singapore #Evaairhellokittybus (faithjoyhope.blogspot.sg)
- [SBST] Hello Kitty Themed Bus – SBS3887P on Service 14 – Volvo B9TL Wright Eclipse Gemini II (youtube.com)
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