Blogger stuck at Taiwan airport survives on soy sauce and wasabi

Blogger stuck at Taiwan airport survives on soy sauce and wasabi

After more than a month at the airport, cash-strapped Japanese traveler Masaaki Tanaka is finally going home
Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport
Masaaki Tanaka says he would not have survived his ordeal had he been stranded anywhere other than Taiwan.

The Japanese traveler who has been stuck in a Taiwanese airport for more than a month -- mimicking the hit movie "The Terminal," which starred Tom Hanks -- is finally going home.

Former reporter and restaurant worker Masaaki Tanaka became stranded at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on September 7 after running out of money. Things got so desperate for the 42-year-old that at one point he was forced to survive on water and packets of soy sauce and wasabi.

Now, thanks to generous donations, Tanaka is due to return home to Japan next week.

Tanaka, who identifies himself online as ZhongZheng, has been blogging about his life in the airport.

From the blog, followers have learned that Tanaka has visited Taiwan on five previous occasions. On his latest trip, however, he ran out of money and did not have any savings to fall back on.

With few options, he decided to remain at the airport without a valid visa.

“I am a Japanese in Taiwan," Tanaka wrote on his blog. "I've become an illegal homeless resident but I don't know how to go back at all. And I don't really wanna go back. No one has arrested me or taken me away, so I'll stay here until I die." 

Saucy survival

More than a month and a half ago, immigration officials referred Tanaka to the Interchange Association, Japan, which is in charge of exchange affairs between Taiwan and Japan, according to The China Post.

Others kept up with Tanaka when he showed up on the blogosphere, documenting his illegal stay at the airport day by day.

At first, Tanaka was able to afford food from convenience stores, but after two weeks, he had only NT$28 (HK$7) left.

Tanaka resorted to eating soy sauce and wasabi from a sushi shop for breakfast and dinner. He also collected loose change dropped on the floor of the airport.

After the Taiwanese branch of Apple Daily reported on Tanaka, dubbed "real-life 'The Terminal'" after the Hollywood movie, many readers expressed sympathy for him.

Ashin, lead vocalist from Taiwanese rock band Mayday, left a comment of support on Tanaka's blog.

Several people have since donated money to Tanaka to cover his flight to Japan and the cash penalty of NT$6,000 that he must pay for overstaying his visa.

Tanaka is due to fly on October 26 for Japan. He blogged, "I will definitely return to Taiwan. If I had ran out of money anywhere other than Taiwan, I would have died for sure. It is only because I am in Taiwan that I have survived this."

After traveling around the world on a fistful of dollars, Zoe returns to Hong Kong, where she grew up, to discover and write about all the inspiring stuff that happens here on a daily basis.

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