It was a bittersweet, scary and funny experience for us as we missed our scheduled train from Hualien to Taipei on the 7th day. I have to admit I was scared to the shits out of me at that point, as we boarded another train bound to Taipei without permission first. We were so afraid we will be thrown out from the train at nowhere or subjected to a heavy penalty. Okay the story begins like this:
Upon realising that we had too little time to spend at Hualien, we were in dismay as our train bound to Taipei will depart at 11:00am in the next morning. This means we actually left with no time to visit Hualien city on the second day morning.
Thus, we ringed up Taiwan Railway Administration to enquiry the possibility on changing the ticket timing. We were excited as the customer care personnel informed us 1 hour prior the departure time, changing of ticket is permissible without incurring any surcharge, subjected to availability though. However we were only allowed to change one times and we have to compensate the difference in ticket prices, which we were perfectly fine with it as long as we get some extra time to spare at this beautiful city.
We went to the the train station in the early morning of the 7th day and managed to change the ticket without hindrance, even get back 17 NTD per pax as the train at 2pm is cheaper than the one in the morning. Haha! This gave us additional few hours to spend at Hualien but at the same time it was the start of nightmare, due to our own negligence.
We went to the train station pretty early at 1:20pm and getting the ticket checked by the gatekeeper uncle who joked with us, saying we looked like a honeymoon couple as Shirleen was wearing a beach hat. Then, we went to the designated platform to wait for the train. The platform was undergoing some sort of repair work as some part of the underground tunnel was fenced.
Okay, we actually went to the wrong platform without realising it. We waited at the wrong platform till 2:05pm and realised something must be wrong as Taiwan train used to be punctual. During that time, a train bound to Taipei actually came but our seat number was not valid as the seat number only run till 34 while ours was 37 and 38. Feeling nervous, we ran to a staff at the platform and was informed "your train has departed". Oh my god! He offered us the solution to change our ticket to a later train but we cannot do so as we have changed our ticket once.
Image taken from http://mashable.com/
Feeling helpless and the fear of unable to secure a seat back to Taipei, which would have ruined our entire trip, we went back to the friendly uncle at the gate and he was surprised to see us and asked us what happened. Unwillingly, we shared our embarrassing condition to him. Of course, we were nagged by him for our negligence and clumsiness but he turned out to be our angel during that time.
He checked his log book and secretly shared with us that there will be a train bound to Chiayi (stopping at Taipei) at 2:43pm and another train bound to Taipei at 2:30pm. However the train bound to Taipei is a high class train (Puyuma Zi Qiang) therefore hop on passenger is not allowed, he advised us to take the train bound to Chiayi and just take an empty seat. He told us if the train captain query our presence, we just told the captain that he allowed us to do so.
We were doubtful on the suggestion but since we were left with no other option, we just took his advice. We embarked the train bound to Chiayi fearfully, afraid that we might expulsed from the train or subjected to a heavier penalty.
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Finally the train captain came to us requesting to check ticket. During the moment I handed her the ticket, I can feel the adrenaline was pumping in my blood vessels. I followed the advice of the uncle gatekeeper and told the captain that he allowed us to board the train.
Perhaps due to my own psychological feeling, I feel the captain hesitated for 1 second then she nodded her head to agree for us to continue with the train journey. We were totally relief at that moment. Even though the train took more than 4 hours to reach Taipei compared to the original train which took only 2.5 hours, we were grateful as we managed to back to Taipei without much disturbance.
Image taken from http://theunboundedspirit.com/
Thank you kind uncle at Hualien for helping us! Even though we do not know your name but we really appreciated the help rendered by you. Sorry there was no pictures as we were totally freaked out then. We wished to have at least snap a picture with the kind uncle.
Advice from us: always check you are at the correct gate or platform whether you are taking a train or a plane. Sometimes own negligence may result in a horrible trip experience.