The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

Taipei’s e-Library Waiting Lounge at Taoyuan Airport: Taiwan finally goes high tech!

Written By: herbrunbridge - Feb• 13•11

Cool sign incorporates printed circuit boards, a tribute to Taiwan's high tech tradition

Taiwan’s Taoyuan airport in the capital city of Taipei has been deservedly maligned as being possibly the most Neolithic — from a westerner perspective — capital city airport in Asia. Forget about Western food (Asians will tell you the Asian food stinks, too).  In fact, Taipei resident Jenna Cody, quoted in the February 13 issue of the Taipei Times, calls the airport food “an embarrassment to the nation.” The upstairs food court isn’t easy to get to from some parts of the departure lounge, and choices are limited.  Most travelers we know here at WoWasis have real opinions about Taoyuan, and none of them are good.

Finally, are the airport authorities listening? Maybe they are… the new  e–Library Waiting Lounge is terrific!

Comfort and access to technology and western power make a quantum leap for travelers at Taipei's Taoyuan Airport

The  e-Library Waiting Lounge. It’s adjacent to gate C5, a gate commonly used for international flights to San Francisco, 30 miles to the north of the high tech capital of Silicon Valley. Good planning, as lots of people carrying electronic communication devices will be on those flights.  The e-Library’s façade is designed from an amalgamation of circuit boards, a tribute to Taiwan’s high tech pedigree. There are free Wi-Fi, internet stations, e-book readers, and even a real library, with books in English and Chinese that you can read, with a promise to return them when you leave the lounge. And there’s a charging station, where power and cables exist for all your electronics. Each of the 42 comfortable molded-plastic seats sports two power outlets, with standard American 3-pronged service. Also, it really is a library. Not a TV or video game in the place, quiet enough that you can get some real work done. The e-Library venture appears to be a joint cooperative effort of the Taoyuan International Airport Corporation, Ltd., and the Ever Rich Foundation, affiliated with the duty-free shops that we suspect funded the construction of the space.

In short, the whole e-Library is a damn good design, terrifically planned. It’s a wonderful upgrade to an airport that essentially ignored Westerners for decades. And it makes us a bit excited in thinking of our next stop here, wondering if the Taoyuan authorities will be just as diligent in redesigning the entire concept of food service.

No doubt, some of this may be a result of EVA Air’s increasing presence in the U.S. as a very good and relatively low-cost carrier to Asia, bringing more Western travelers to EVA’s Taoyuan hub. EVA’s inflight food is a disaster though, just as bad as the cardboard-tasting fare served by China Airlines (we don’t care about the low prices, when the food is that bad. Asian airlines, please take note, as even western coach-fare passengers will go overboard to select a low-cost airline with better food).  If Taoyuan Airport’s food can ever be improved, perhaps EVA’s won’t be far behind. One can only hope. At least now there appears to be a glimmer.

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  1. william ho says:

    do you ever hear any taiwanese going to america, and saying “this airport is not asian friendly enough”? demand Chinese books in a western airport? damn westerners complain too much and should just stay out of taiwan.

  2. Thanks for the info! I pass through Taoyuan quite often. If you’re interested in learning about travel opportunities to Taiwan, you can check out my link!

  3. jenna cody says:

    I meant to add: not only is the food vile, but it’s extortionately priced. The free Wifi *almost* makes up for it. Almost.

  4. jenna cody says:

    That’s me!

    Anyway, I was particularly happy to be published as saying that the food at Taoyuan is “a blight on Taiwan’s otherwise vibrant culinary culture”. I don’t often get to refer to things as “a blight”. 🙂

    The rest of Taoyuan is fine – good bus service, affordable taxi service. I do wish the HSR had a station right at the airport. The airport express will be awesome. Free carts and Wifi, which is more than you can say for any American airport.

    It’s just the food. The food is vile.

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