If you have no clue what Taipei is like, it’s kind of like Tokyo with cheaper taxis and less tourists. It’s a city where you’ll find a karaoke bar full of passed-out locals a five-minute walk from a Confucius temple.
Conveniently, if you’re not about spending your entire time surrounded by neon advertisements, the Taiwanese capital is also just a short journey to some of the most beautiful wilderness I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting.
Below are some of the photos I’ve amassed from my time taking pictures in and around the city.
Without anyone noticing, Michael Jackson was the last passenger at the last minute to board the China Airlines CI-003 from San Francisco wearing his hat and surgical mask. He sat at the front by the window in the first class cabin with his agent (Michael’s security Bill Bray).
Michael was greeted on board by the company head of the public relations Mr. Luo and other senior members before they briefly took a walk “sightseeing” the transfer area. Luo recalled that Michael kept praising the display of the hallway, walking back and forth a few times, excited like a big kid, he seemed to be very happy to be on the island of Taiwan for the first time.
Mr. Luo spent nearly an hour talking with Michael, he later spoke of his amazement at how child like, well mannered and easy going he was; Michael’s long thick eyelashes and charming big brown eyes were most memorable.
However, the first crew members on the flight included chief cabin Mr. Zhang, air attendance Ms. Zhu and Ms. Liu who had flown in with the pop icon via San Francisco, they felt exceptionally honoured to meet Michael. All complimented on his charm and good manners after spending time with him on the long haul flight.
Zhang recalled that after Michael boarded the plane, he expressed his wish to catch up on some sleep, as he had not slept the previous night due to various things to do with his tour. After the plane took off, he soon fell asleep for 5-6 hours. Zhang was surprised that a super star such as Michael Jackson, appeared to be so kind, pure and innocent, which was beyond his expectation.
After Michael woke up, he went into the kitchen to check things out and chatted to everyone, he even got himself some children’s toys and stickers. There was no doubt that he really adored children, when he was asked to sign a photo of an air attendant’s two year old daughter, Michael took as long as 5 seconds looking at the photo before putting the pen down.
Michael was not a big eater, he preferred vegetarian food, so he didn’t eat much on the flight. He mainly accepted almonds and peanut type snacks. Zhu said Michael wasn’t fussy about wine glasses, he had white wine in a coffee cup, and only had an apple and yogurt for breakfast. The crew also noted his caring side, when he woke up in the dark just before breakfast, trying not to disturb other passengers while looking out of the window, he thoughtfully covered up his head and the window with a blanket to stop the light coming in.
Liu also recalled some memorable moments with Michael. She gave Michael orange juice after he asked for her recommendation, she also let Michael borrow her “Polo” fragrance to spray himself, and even gave Michael her China Airlines Eagle badge, pinning it on Michael’s shirt after he had shown his admiration for it.
But for Liu, the most memorable moment with the King of Pop was when she was putting a blanket on him ready for sleep, and wished him a good dream, Michael was moved by the gesture, sincerely like a boy, and said to her “I love you”, which really warmed her heart.
Apart from a few hours sleep, the rest of the time Michael was actively chatting to the crew, looking through the window, playing poker with his agent and reading the airline magazine. He even bought a toy plane watch.
The plane journey went very smoothly, Michael didn’t forget to pay compliments to the chief pilot Mr. Cao. He cheered as soon as the plane landed, his child like spirit was contagious, all the other passengers were soon cheering along with him! Before getting off the plane, lots of passengers and the crew couldn’t resist asking Michael for his autograph which he was happy to give.
Senior air attendants later commented about their years of experience in dealing with international stars, Michael was the most sincere and approachable, something they would never forget!