Remember the Titans is a good movie. It’s a film showing how, with hard work and perseverance, we can overcome adverse situations to achieve a desired outcome. A fitting movie to watch during a delayed 4-hour flight from Tokyo to Taipei. I liken myself to the film’s main character, Coach Boone (Denzel Washington) after sitting for 45 minutes on the tarmac waiting to be cleared for departure No, I’m not coaching a racially torn football team to a state championship, but I am hungry, suffering from severe gas and sitting in the middle seat of the center row of a packed, hot airplane. As far I’m was concerned our fate’s are linked. Boone needs to find a way to bypass a town’s racial prejudices and pull his team together in preparation for the upcoming season, and I need to survive this last 4 hours without having a panic attack and realeasing a foul stench from the depth of my bowels–both are challenges of great magnitude.
Luckily this is the last leg of a long journey that will drop me back in Asia, on the island nation of Taiwan. I just about cheer when the Japanese flight attendant announces that we have begun our final descent, not unlike the fist pump I wanted to throw in the air after Rev Harris executes a perfect reverse to score the winning touchdown towards the end of the movie. It’s magnificently epic.
We file off the plane and shuffle through customs faster than I anticipated and quickly find our way to the bus station. There’s several companies offering a ride into the city center and as Kay and I stare dreary eyed at the different booths, two men approach us asking where we’re headed. They both appear a bit ragged and I immediately assume they’re taxi drivers looking to make a quick buck on unsuspecting foreigners. I turn around prepared to ignore them, but Kay enlists their help and we’re suddenly standing in line waiting for the bus to arrive. The two would-be taxi drivers are from Taiwan and have just returned from a trip in the states. They not only help us find the right gate to stand at for the bus, but also write down the directions to our hostel in Mandarin for us to give to a taxi driver upon arrival in Taipei. And I, feel like a supreme asshole. I remind myself that Taiwan is a different country with different people than the lot that I sometimes dealt with while bouncing around SE Asia. We haven’t been in country for more than an hour and I’m already thinking people are trying to get over on us. Lesson learned.
It’s after midnight and raining when we finally arrive in. I have just enough energy to lug my pack and other belongings from the taxi and into the tiny elevator, up to the 6th floor Taipei hostel. We have no plans for the next day, except to maybe do some exploring and contact a few Couchsurfing hosts. I’m wet, cold and tired, but I’ve made it. I don’t have a football to hold above my head signaling victory over my opponent, but I am grinning as pull the blanket to my chin in our tiny closet of a hotel room. Denzel would be proud.