#GeraTravels: Flying into super typhoon Nepartak

Having grown up in a country as geographically well-protected as Singapore, exposure to natural disasters is often close to none.

Sure, we get updates via news channels on the devastation and severity of the storms – but to actually understand what the disaster entails?

I can safely say I’m very ignorant in this area.

Even when travelling, I had the privilege of not getting hit by natural disasters. Much reason due to the fact that when planning a trip, I’d abstain from traveling during ‘dangerous’ seasons.

Like for Taiwan – their rainy and typhoon season is around June to October. This year, 2016, it was said to be between July to August.

It’s honestly the worst time to actually plan a leisure trip there because it is the hottest time of the year for them; why would I want to escape Singapore’s diabolically hot weather to get into another one? 😒

But this time I booked my flight anyway because of my dear cousin, Kathlyn.

I knew I was making a dangerous decision (thank God for travel insurance)… but it was one I was prepared to make anyhow. This is what humans do, right? Make funny decisions out of love for another human being.

On Wednesday (6 July 2016), people were sending me messages about the warning of typhoon Nepartak moving straight for Taiwan from the Philippines.

Friend: According to calculations, the typhoon will be hitting Taiwan Friday morning (8 July 2016).

Me: Well, f**k. My plane is scheduled to land 8 July 2016 at 5:30AM.

Seriously.

When buying lottery, I was never this lucky. How come when I bought plane tickets, it was exactly at the time and date the typhoon was expected to hit.

Well, anyway… It was quite scary yet exciting for me. It was the first time a natural disaster was affecting me in a direct manner. 😅 Sorry that I sound awfully lame…

All went well on 6 July 2016! Sure, there was an influx of news and warnings… Mark’s mom was getting very worried and even told me to just forgo the trip. But I was optimistic! Didn’t receive any news from the airlines directly… My cousin was still messaging me….

Then on 7 July 2016 at work, things got a little crazy. I started receiving more and more messages about the typhoon and how it upgraded into a super typhoon. Being it’s not just your regular typhoon! No, sir. It’s a super one now!

And I saw pictures of the monster – it was HUGE. Definitely merits the upgrade.

Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz/NASA/LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response via AP
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz/NASA/LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response via AP

The typhoon was indeed terrifying. The very size of it was proof of the disaster that will befall all in its way.

Plus the name Nepartak was actually a designation for a warrior in Micronesia. Fun fact! So quite aptly named… Definitely a clear indication of the kind of wrath you can expect.

Then in the afternoon of 7 July 2016, there were news articles that airlines were cancelling flights into Taiwan. And I just resigned to fate. I messaged Kath that my flight was cancelled and then I had another typhoon to handle – Kathlyn.

And it felt awful not being able to do anything. There I was just dying to get to my baby cousin who needs some love and support, but I couldn’t do a single thing about it. I even tried arranging an earlier flight – but apparently many other people thought of that genius idea as well, and I didn’t stand a chance.

😭😭😭😭😭

And honestly I just started praying for the best. I was grateful for the measures taken into safety, but I was being greedy – I still wanted to be in Taipei with Kath.

Felt like forever; but soon enough, I received a message that my flight was merely delayed!!! By a whopping 11 hours – but hey, I still get to be in Taipei! People still said it was dangerous, but it was happening!

I never thought I’d feel so happy to fly into possible death – but YAY!!!

Then when I was getting ready to board the plane at around 10:30AM, I received news about the devastation the typhoon left in Taiwan. And positively went mildly ballistic – sending my cousin messages and demanding her to reply me. Of which that wanker didn’t.

WHY?? SHE WAS SLEEPING IN BECAUSE SHE DIDN’T HAVE TO REPORT TO WORK!!!

So yes, she messaged me just before I had to turn my phone into flight mode. That adorable wanker.

Because of the aftermath of the typhoon, my plane ride was plenty bumpy. It actually felt like a roller coaster many times – too many times for comfort. I started getting bleak thoughts in my head, “In a roller coaster, this seat belt is to make sure that I’m safely attached to the seat to bring me down to safety. But for this plane ride, it’ll make sure I’m attached to this seat so they can identify my body.”

And honestly, I didn’t even pray much. My only prayer much, “Okay, ol’ Father… If this is the time and way You take me home, then okay. Death by Nepartak sounds pretty badass.”

Landing was quite bumpy too – but I really must credit the pilot! It mustn’t have been easy for him to fly in that sort of skies, but he did a great job in getting us there safely anyway. Don’t know his name, but I was on Scoot TZ 202, flight from Singapore to Taiwan then to Narita on 8 July 2016, left Changi Airport at 1100 hours.

The good news is – Taipei didn’t receive much of a hit. It was really the more rural parts of Taiwan that suffered quite badly. This auntie told me that this shop keeper was trying to pull his door or window shut, but then was sucked out into the storm and just died… It was scary to know such things could actually happen.

When I got to Taoyuan International Airport, the flooding had stopped and while the roads were still filled with puddles here and there – everything was fine. Just that my drive there was a little swirly… because of the strong wind. While driving down the highway, the car was swerving left and right almost uncontrollably.

But anyhow, got to my cousin safely! And we didn’t care much about the wind or rain – still had to take a happy reunion selfie!

In #Taipei with cuzzie wuzzie!!! Typhoon or not; we got each other ❤️ #family #love #GeraTravels

A post shared by Geraldine Sim (@gera.shen) on

😁😁😁😁😁

When I got to her apartment, she was ready for a storm! She stocked up on instant noodles, water for drinking, water for flushing… Never had this in Singapore! Cannot imagine how fortunate we are, actually.

For those of you who are interested, here’s a video from CNN about the storm.

It was quite insane! Roofs were torn off, signs on the street, vehicles thrown around… And lives were taken and some scarred. 😔  I pray that God be by your side through these times to watch over you.

XOXO, G. 

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