Here is Part 2 of our epic 26+ hours of travel to Taipei. You can find Part 1 here.
EVA Air Royal Laurel Class to Taipei
As I mentioned in the introduction, EVA straight up trolled us by throwing Hello Kitty in our faces as soon as we got onboard. Like, ha ha, Hello Kitty could be all up on this plane but she’s not so you just gotta watch her on TV!
I think EVA Air Royal Laurel might be the best longhaul business class product I’ve experienced. Everyone raves about the Rimowa amenity kits, which are nice, but I’m all about the pajamas. They are quite soft and comfortable and I got a size too small so they are very form fitting and flattering. They gave me two pairs, one for M, but they don’t fit her so more for me. Picture omitted due to over form fittingness :).
The service on the flight was excellent. The flight attendants were super accommodating, there seemed to be an army of them, and they were very attentive/helpful. Obviously it helped that the cabin was only 60% full but I think they were working their tails off regardless. The seat was also great, everything “made sense”, from the seat controls, to the storage comforts, and to the bed itself, which was very comfortable.
They had no problem accommodating our request to eat separately – M and I ate first (with Jess assisting the former) and Jess ate second. I would swing by the galley whenever I needed something but they seemed to always know what I wanted before I even asked. Cold milk? Check. More champagne? Check. Instant noodles? CHECK.
There were also some peculiar things that piqued my interest. Like someone was hanging out in the galley wearing pajamas. Was she a flight attendant who had something spilled on her? Flight attendant just a passenger on the flight? Random buddy? OK, I guess that was the only thing that was curious to me. But I will never solve this mystery!
I’ve seen a lot of complaints about the food in Royal Laurel Class (well, complaints is too strong a word but lack of enthusiasm). I didn’t really have any issues with it. Though I’d have loved to drink some Dom, the Veuve was a worthy alternative. The food was simple but I thought it was tasty and it definitely was satisfying.
The midnight snack was great and they had seaweed flavored potato chips. Honestly my only complaint was that I could have used some chocolate sauce with the ice cream. Oh, and Jess would like to add that that milk tea was good and the porridge for breakfast was great. I slept through breakfast.
Everyone who has read my reports before know in-flight entertainment is big for me, but unfortunately I barely got to watch anything on the personal screens (more on that later). I did watch a HK Cinema rom-com which had a terrible ending. One of those, “that’s it?” kind of endings. I mean my goal was to brush up on my Cantonese, so I guess I accomplished that a little bit. “分手100次” is the title if anyone’s interested. But maybe just skip it…
EVA Royal Laurel Class Toddler-centric Review
Obviously I would have been a lot more comfortable and relaxed if I didn’t have a toddler climbing over me the entire flight. But EVA’s Royal Laurel Class helped make what would have been an unbearable flight into a decent one for M. I mean, she had a great time, so I guess I really mean for us.
We ordered M a children’s meal (which covered both dinner and breakfast). Both were way too much food for a toddler (maybe too much for any pre-adolescent), but it was good to have that alternative. Can’t really go wrong with spaghetti though it was a little too salty. Jess said breakfast was eggs with mashed potatoes WHAT? Wish I had been awake for that.
We survived the flight by taking turns. I ate dinner first while Jess fed M the children’s meal, then I took over and put M to bed while Jess ate. Putting her to bed was a bit of a mess. I had been letting her sleep on top of my chest more (for naps and stuff) in anticipation of this very flight, so I started things off by rocking her to sleep and lying down with her asleep on top of me.
At this point I thought I was golden – she could sleep, I could sleep, everybody happy. Alas, the best laid plans…about fifteen minutes later she woke up and basically kicked me out of the bed (which was really comfortable btw! Forgot to mention that before). I sat on the side of the seat with my legs half hanging out in the aisle for a little while.
I then realized that I could kind of sit at the head of the bed since she’s so short. It wasn’t great but at least it was a semi-natural position to sleep in. So I just sat there as she rested and watched The Fellowship of the Ring on my tablet (thanks Google Play for the free movie!). At some point, I even managed to fall asleep resting my head on my knees.
After some unspecified amount of time (lost track of time really quickly on that flight), I tried to readjust my position – this led to the inevitable toddler wake up screaming while still sleeping situation. Yikes. I think we managed to keep this under five minutes although who knows it could have been eighteen hours like in Contact.
At this point, Jess took her and calmed her down and put her back down on her seat. I took this time to finish aforementioned terrible ending HK rom-com, after which Jess and I switched spots so she could get some sleep. I managed to get a seatbelt on M so at that point I started rotating back and forth between sitting next to her and sitting in one of the empty seats in the cabin. I managed to finish Gravity on my tablet (Google Play free again), but started getting pretty tired.
M eventually woke up with about 3 hours to go in the flight (which ended up being almost 4 due to a landing delay). At this point I finally got to use the lie-flat bed for real and I had two very nice hours of sleep. This sleep was punctuated with faint recollections of a toddler peering over the center console wearing headphones and singing, though I can’t be too sure of that.
Anyway, I was on M duty the last hour of the flight and at that point I was so tired that I finally caved. M isn’t allowed to watch any TV at home besides football (both American and World versions), but I just gave up on life and flipped on one of the fifty Hello Kitty movies they had on IFE.
Of course these videos were in Japanese with Chinese subtitles so I didn’t bother giving M the headphones, instead I read the subtitles as fast as I could and just made up a story on the fly. I do now know that Hello Kitty does not like eating vegetables, if only I could figure out how her parents magically convinced her to start eating them!
Oh, and as I had mentioned in the introduction, EVA also provides diapers on request. The medium diapers we asked for were size 4 Huggies (5 diapers). The diapers kind of backfired a little because Mickey Mouse was on them and even though she has never heard of him M is now constantly asking for “little mouse” diapers. Luckily she is not above falling for the old bait and switch!
Taiwan Immigration and a Jet-lagged Toddler at the Grand Hyatt Taipei
A few final notes because I feel they fit better here than elsewhere in the trip report. We had to wait 15-20 minutes or so for our gate checked stroller – life of a parent. That obviously negates the benefit of getting off the plane first. M did get a chance to run around though.
What negated the negation was the fact that Taipei Taoyuan has a priority line for seniors and people traveling with children! So when we got to immigration we only had to wait for one other group before we went through.
Another nice thing about Taipei Taoyuan is at baggage claim there is a guy stacking bags on the conveyor belt for easier access. Sometimes it really is the little things that makes the travel experience pleasant.
After a generous relative drove us the hour to the Grand Hyatt Taipei (M conked out), we checked in. The first thing M saw when we walked in was the gigantic Christmas tree: “Waooooow!” Check-in was quick and painless at 1230 AM.
We then entered our suite which is one of the nicer rooms I’ve ever stayed in. I’ll have a full review on the Grand Hyatt Taipei later, but what’s relevant here is that M was running around exploring the room like a crazy person and we were all hungry.
So how better to end a long day (and change!) of travel than to order some Wonton noodle soup from room service? It did not disappoint.
Our journey to Taiwan ended up being the marathon I was expecting. Thank goodness we were flying in business class: real props go to those who survive with lap toddlers in coach. We’re all still recovering even three days later, but glad to be here. EVA and Grand Hyatt Taipei are da bomb!
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