|Mascot for the tournament|
The time had come after a month of no traveling for September I was flying off again. This time back to Asia, 2nd time for the year for a tournament. I would be going to the 2015 Chinese Taipei Grand Prix tournament taking place in Taipei, Taiwan. I always love going to Asia, I really enjoy the region and the culture not to mention the food is amazing. My association entered me, main and qualifying reports came out and I was in the maindraw so that meant I booked my flight and would be in the country for 4 days. Leaving Saturday to get there and arriving back into Calgary the Friday morning, I had to coach Friday night. Then the draw came out…another lucky draw but not really as I had to play Darren Liew of Malaysia. Those who don’t know who he is well he was number 10 in the world at one point and also the Thomas cup silver medallist who lost the 5th and deciding match to Japan for the cold medal. At this point he hadn't played much and fell quite a bit in the rankings but still the opportunity to play a top player none the less. Well let's get this adventure off to a start.
The flights to Asia are always fun and while they are long (10+ hours at the least, depending where you leave from and fly to) they feel like nothing now because of how many times I have flown there. So I went from Calgary to San Francisco then SF to Tokyo and finally Tokyo to Taipei, Taiwan. The interesting part happened in San Francisco when we landed as we were taxiing down the runway I saw air force one parked on the tarmac. Little did I know this would effect me later on in the journey when flying out. As my layover in SF came to an end I boarded the 747 (I love big planes) and we started to push back from the gate then there was an announcement…that the flight would be delayed. The reason being because air force one was about to take off the entire airport was at a standstill, no planes could move or take off/land. So we had to wait, I don't know if the president was actually on air force one at that time since I know there are two of them. Regardless the standstill came to and end and the mayhem of airline traffic started but we were finally off. A quick stop in Tokyo and then it was off to Taiwan. Arriving at Taipei we were put into a holding pattern for a bit due to the excess of airline traffic arriving at the airport. Landing I was greeted by the welcome committee and we just had to pick up a few other players before boarding the van to the hotel. Arriving around 10pm at night I was unable to get a workout in as the gym closed so I made my way to my room and passed out on the gigantic bed, it made for some much needed rest.
|My room was rather awesome|
Morning broke and all that was planned was to have the team managers meeting and welcome dinner. As well I had a practice slot in the morning that I could attend. Made my way to the venue and of course it was just me so as always finding some players to hit with proved challenging. I was able to hit with the Chinese Taipei players but practice times were limited to half an hour only. Heading back go the hotel and after the managers meeting I met up with a friend who had just gotten in, Timothy Chui of Canada and we arranged to have a hit Monday afternoon as it was just qualifications that day. Sunday night after the managers meeting there was a welcome dinner for all the players and of course I went to that. Welcome dinners for tournaments are done the best in Asia and Macau 2013 was one of the best to date that I have gone to. The tournament organizers approached me and wanted to make sure I was going as I was going to be presented with an award. The dinner was very well done and consisted of a 6 course meal. There was entertainment from the “sexy dancers”, a magician, some speeches, and then the award presentation where a bunch of us were presented with a trophy for attending the tournament. I left the dinner early around 8pm just 2 hours after it started but it didn't finish until around 10pm. Most players left as we all had to play maindraw matches the following day.
|Welcome dinner for the players and the dancers|
|The award/trophy I was given for participating|
Match day rolled around and I was scheduled to play in the afternoon. I got up ate a solid breakfast and relaxed a bit before getting ready and walking over to the venue. Upon arrival there was some good matches and I started to browse around and watch. Coming closer I warmed up and wanted to record my match but I didn't know what court I'd be on or know anybody who would be able to set up my camera for me. So I set it up to get all the courts in one shot. Darren Liew and I walked onto the court and I was pumped for the match. I never get scared or worried when playing these high ranked or famous players. Quite the opposite actually it's really cool and an awesome opportunity to see how I stack up to them. The match started and I knew it was an uphill battle, we had some good rallies but in the end he was the superior player and took the match quite comfortably despite injuring his ankle in the 2nd game. I remember in the beginning of the 2nd game he kept me at the back of the court essentially playing isolation against me. I walked off the court disappointed in my performance that I couldn't get more posts but satisfied with some rallies and pegging him with the shuttle a few times.
Just like that my tournament was over, another first round loss. I had a day and a half left in Taiwan at that point the rest of the day from my match and then the full next day. This meant time to explore. I met up with a few friends over the course of my next day and a half. First stop was a night walk with my friend and we visited some interesting stuff including a popular shopping area which had a Times Square feel to it. The president’s place and a monument to the first president of the country were up next as well as some of the national music and preforming centers. It was night for all of this so it made the views all the more spectacular and memorable. After that I headed back to the hotel and got a workout in but making sure to go to bed early as I would have a huge day tomorrow with a lot of sightseeing to do.
|Is it just me or does the presidents place look like a cake...|
|Mini times square|
The sun was out and I was up bright an early at 7am, very rarely do I get up that early while traveling even for the free breakfast at the hotel. But this time I had a good reason I was leaving the hotel soon with my friend to see Taipei 101, one of the tallest buildings in the world (4th tallest at my time of viewing it). So we got on the train from the hotel and took the trek down to the tower, the ride was simple and the train system there is reliable and quick. Walking out of the station I was greeted by the colossus that was Taipei 101, its design stood out against the bare skyline. Nothing else even begun to come close to being noticeable against this towering giant. We made our way into the mall that is attached to the tower and then onto the lobby. The elevator at Taipei 101 is world famous and holds a Guinness world record in 2004 for the fastest passenger elevator in the world at 60.6 Km/h and takes you from the 5th floor to the observatory on the 89th floor in 37 seconds. Arriving at the observation floor you could see everything for miles in each direction, the view was stunning. The sheer height of the building was amazing. Up there they had lots of stuff talking about the construction of the building and what went into the design. There was also the option to go to the roof and get a better look at the antenna on top of the building but you couldn’t see too much scenery wise. Then there was the chance to view the damper, a 660 ton pendulum which helps the building to survive against intense winds and earthquakes so it doesn’t sway. That concluded the time in Taipei 101 a quick walk through the gift shop to get to the elevator to go back downstairs and it was off to get some food, half the day was done already.
|First thing I saw when I got out of the underground station|
|With one of the mascots and there 660 ton damper|
|Its made out of coral|
Next stop on the list was a museum all about Taiwan’s history, it was located up in the mountains and was quite the nice scenic route to get to. Bu before that we walked around Taipei 101 area and saw some of the pubic art that was there. Lots of cool statues and interesting instalments to take pictures with. There were tons of exhibits and artifacts to see in the museum but we didn’t have time to see them all. It would have taken an entire day on its own to cover all the floors and walk through every hall that was there. After spending a few hours there and learning about the history of Taiwan it was time to go back to the hotel and get some food. I had some time to kill so did a workout and started to pack. I was going to meet up with my last friend in the night to go out and party a little bit to enjoy my last night in Taiwan.
|The museum is huge despite looking rather small|
The night had come and my bags were packed, minus last minute things that would be packed in the morning. I would need to leave the hotel around 8am to go to the airport and catch my flight back to Calgary. But first we went to get some noodle soup followed by a walk to another shopping center for some browsing and where there were some bars. We met up with some more people and spent a few hours there hanging out, playing games (darts and pool) before finally calling it a night. We were close enough to Taipei 101 that I was able to see it lit up at night, it is a different color each night of the week. After the adventure which was wandering around Taipei and playing a tournament I was now time to head back home. Just 2 flights to take and I would be back in Calgary Friday afternoon. The flight back was relatively smooth and once I was back I needed to rush off to coaching that night. Finally after coaching I was able to go home and sleep but would need to wake up early Saturday morning to coach again and followed by Sunday morning too. So fighting jet lag would have to wait a little bit.
|Taipei 101 all lit up at night|
Overall the trip was great and I was happy I went despite having such a tough first round. The year would be drawing to a close and I would try and play a few more tournaments to get some world ranking points but as well Olympic qualifying points too. Suriname, Orlando, and LA were 3 more tournaments I had planned for and would take me through November and December.