Tag Archives: Tokyo

No Tokyo Olympics, Please

It’s really time for the Olympics to get cancelled. It’s time. We all can see the Olympics for what they are. They are a company interested in their own profits. They’re not about sports, camaraderie, or triumph over adversity. The sports and the athletes are just a secondary concern. What the IOC values more is licensing, advertising, and broadcasting the games.

The games have been slowly showing its hand in the past few Olympic games. A couple of years after the games were held in Beijing, people noted the abandoned structures that were hastily built for the games. Then people started questioning whether it truly is worth it to host the Olympics, especially when the money used for infrastructure could be used for so many other things. This was especially true when the Olympics were held in Rio. Last year, the Olympic park was closed due to safety concerns. Hosting the Olympics means spending money on infrastructure that would never be recovered, infrastructure that has a high probability of not being maintained after the games. But yeah, the countries/cities are losing money, but someone is getting rich out of all of the construction and other Olympics-related logistics.

As for the sport, Sochi Olympics has demonstrated that widespread cheating can occur with very little consequences to the athletes. After Russia was caught having a national doping program, they barely suffered any consequences for it, and many of their athletes were later allowed to compete under no flags. Pointless.

And now Tokyo, despite rising coronavirus cases, insists that the city will continue to host the games as scheduled. There will be no spectators, and athletes will not be required to get the vaccine, but will however be required to sign a waiver that they risk illness and death by competing in the city. Why is the UN allowing this? This is akin to South Korea’s old law of revoking foreigner’s visas should they learn they are HIV positive. What if they caught the virus in South Korea? (Instead of having brought the virus into the country) Isn’t that not their fault fully but also the fault of the environment they are in? The UN saw it as discrimination as well as a backwards policy that unfairly treats visitors to the country. In Japan, what if the athletes catch covid in the country and dies? Doesn’t the country or the IOC have any responsibility for it? Doesn’t this shift the blame for catching diseases fully on the visitors and not the country the same way South Korea did before with HIV?

Inviting a host of people from countries all over the world could potentially turn Tokyo into a hotbed for the pandemic and naturally, many of the people in Tokyo are against it. Around 80% of people in a recent survey wanted to have the games cancelled altogether. So the games aren’t really for the benefit of the city either. They don’t want to risk dying from covid should the worst happen as a result of thousands of athletes visiting. Even a group of Japanese medical professionals want the game cancelled. Japanese cities are not doing well with infections and vaccinations. As much as some people are saying that Tokyo has handled the pandemic well. They truly haven’t. They came into the pandemic with so much hubris, even allowing people to go out cherry blossom viewing in spring 2020. And now Americans are officially warning people not to visit the country for the Olympics.

As much as I love Japan, I can’t stand the conservative Japanese government. The Olympics has a policy of not allowing politics to be part of the games, and yet recently, Tokyo has been using a map that shows Dokdo, a Korean island, as part of Japanese territory. This revisionist claim is just par for the course for the Japanese government in the past couple of years. They have denied wartime atrocities and downplayed claims of sexual exploitation. South Koreans are understandably unhappy about the recent Dokdo fiasco and many are pushing to boycott the Olympics altogether.

I believe this push to have the Olympics in Tokyo this summer no matter what is simply companies trying to make good on their investments. I’m sure contractors and other beneficiaries to the Olympics, be it the Japanese government side, the corporate side, or the IOC, who were disappointed last year are still hoping that they can make money off of the event. And it truly doesn’t matter whether the events have people watching them on the ground. What truly matters is how many people will be watching the games on television and online. As for me, I think I’ll be watching better shows on Netflix instead. I can just read about whoever won whatever event on Twitter or Reddit.

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Osaka Again

Goat 4

Off to Osaka this week. I’ve been going to Osaka quite frequently recently. It’s a great city, people are friendly, and most things to do are pretty accessible. If you’re going to do Japan for the first time, I recommend Osaka. Tokyo is way too busy. Most of the interesting places to visit in Tokyo are separated by several subway rides. Tourists would end up spending a great portion of their time on the train. Go to Osaka instead; all the key Japanese things to do are pretty much in the same area.

Speaking of Osaka, I saw a short virtual reality video off of Littlstar, the VR video network. Here’s a tip, if you’re gonna make a video and call it “Passport Osaka,” don’t spend half of it on the tattooed expat. Most of the people visiting Osaka aren’t there to visit a foreigner’s tattoo parlor. And I really wouldn’t call Dotonbori and Amerikamura “best-kept secrets” either. They’re two of the main places where tourists go. Blergh.

 

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Japan Again

Flowers

Visited Japan again. Japan is a great place to visit. I would live there if the living expense vs. wages is more reasonable. Anywhere but Tokyo though. Tokyo is a nightmare of trains and buses.

One thing I always liked about the country is the general respect towards others and the overwhelming sense of empathy. People are always mindful of how others are… smiling, not getting in each other’s space, not being too loud on their phones, etc. It’s great. Here in Seoul, despite having a history of Confucian, community-centered value system, people tend to be more self-centered. They are not aware of other’s personal space. I got mine; you go get yours, type of attitude. It’s not a big deal, and I’ve gotten used to it. But it’s often the small things that make one appreciate a place more.

Maybe this is just me being Canadian and missing general politeness.

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Down it goes

toilet

Oh look, a toilet. I guess this reflects my general mood lately. Of course, watching the news doesn’t help either.

Off for a vacation on Thursday. The last time I went to Japan, I didn’t really enjoy it. I feel like I’ve been to Tokyo too many times, so it’s a nice little change to go to Osaka this time around. It’s been years since I visited Osaka, and this will be my wife’s first time. She’s kinda thinking I would know my way around the play, but with the way things change, especially in Asia, I doubt if any place I visited while I was there last time would still be there.

My mother-in-law however is not really too thrilled with the idea of us going to Japan. She thinks that we’ll end up sick due to Fukushima radiation. I’m sure most travelers would dismiss this as the concerns of an out-of-touch woman in her sixties, but many people don’t realize that Japan has a growing number of leaky water tanks just sitting there like rows poisoned canned soup. But damn it, I really need a break. I’ll try to worry about it once I get back and start discovering weird spots on my body.

I’ve said it before, but I believe the best part of a trip overseas is the airport. There’s just this overwhelming aura of possibility once you get there, rolling around with your luggage, looking at flights. It doesn’t matter what the trip is for. I just have this feeling that at any moment, my life could change. There’s just something about the prospect of being in the air and being around so many travelers. It’s like being in the one place where things actually begin to happen.

The rest of the trip is just icing on the cake.

I hope the trip improves my mood.

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Travelocity, “Allen,” and the mysterious Elroy Lobo

Tentacular

Don’t do it! DON’T DO IT! Don’t book that flight with Travelocity!

It’s been a couple of months, but I finally gave up with Travelocity. They messed up my vacation last year and I’ve been waiting for some sort of resolution afterwards, but have received none. Well, here’s the story:

I booked a trip to Canada on Travelocity. A month before the trip, I got an e-mail from them saying that one of the flights got cancelled and we had to re-book. Re-booking had us changing our whole itinerary which forced us to transfer in Detroit, something which I was trying to avoid. They blamed Korean Air for the cancelled flight. I trusted the customer service representative on the phone, a heavily-accented man named “Allen,” and went along with it.

Had a decent flight to Canada but really didn’t enjoy my lengthy stay in Detroit International. There’s a couple of jokes about Detroit that could be made, but we should all just move on.

The day before my trip back to Seoul, I decided to check my iPhone app which tracks my flights. I noticed that the last flight of my itinerary (on Asiana) was missing. This was odd because it’s the day before my flight and I didn’t receive any messages from Travelocity. I decided to call customer service, and lo and behold, I get to speak with “Allen” again. After being on hold several times, he tells me that Asiana cancelled the flight and I had to stay overnight in Tokyo to catch the next flight. And since I would be staying the night, I had to book a hotel, but I shouldn’t worry because since Asiana cancelled the flight, they would be covering my expenses no problem. Actually, I was more annoyed that I was missing a day at work and that I was told about the cancelled flight just a day ahead. Still, I went along with “Allen” since they already had my money (“No refunds!”) and I really had no choice at the moment.

I arrived in Tokyo and went to the Asiana kiosk. The representative looked at the records of their correspondence with Travelocity and it showed that they repeatedly tried to confirm the booking with Travelocity but for some reason Travelocity just simply didn’t respond to them. The flight wasn’t cancelled, Travelocity just didn’t confirm my booking either due to ignorance or ineptitude. So I was forced to stay in a hotel because it was too late to get in the flight. And since Asiana didn’t drop the ball and they have proof that it was indeed Travelocity that caused the problems, I should settle my hotel bill with them.

I stayed in the most boring hotel in Tokyo. Roomy but boring, nothing around but a 7-Eleven, the airport, and other airport hotels.

The next day, I arrived in Seoul and sent a message to Travelocity recounting the incident along with the proof Asiana agents gave me. I also requested for compensation for grievance and missing a day at work. I got a message saying that I should send my complaint to another Travelocity address.

I sent my complaint to the other address, and then I got a canned response saying my business was valuable and that they’re looking into it. In the meantime, I should send my complaint to the address I sent my first message to. I did and I waited. A month later, I asked for a follow-up and I got a canned response. No explanation, nothing.

Last week, I sent another message and here’s part of the response I got from a customer service rep named Elroy Lobo, probably a bot:

“Please be advised that we have made a sincere effort to address the issues brought to our attention. We assure you that no attempt was made to trivialize or disregard your comments and observations. While we understand your position, we feel that our resolution was fair and equitable.”

WHAT RESOLUTION? WHAT WAS FAIR AND EQUITABLE?

I could be angrier, but weeks have passed since the incident and I only lost a couple of hundred dollars. I’ve read horror stories online of people losing thousands, and not just normal trips, but significant trips like honey moons or group vacations. It makes me wonder however if that is standard operating procedure for Travelocity. Mess up people’s flights, have them send their complaints to various addresses for weeks, then finally have them give up as their tempers cool. It’s actually funny how the Better Business Bureau has Travelocity at an A+ rating when thousands of stories online are more horrible than mine. It’s probably because ratings and reviews have to be vetted not only by BBB but the business itself… which kinda makes the review process worthless.

In any case. Don’t do it. Save yourself the hassle and don’t book with Travelocity. Elroy Lobo, I know you don’t exist. I hope you catch a computer virus. And to all the “Allen”s I talked to, I hope you’re proud of what your doing, messing up people’s vacations and making First World life just a tad bit miserable.

Each time I have spare time, I try hard not to crank call “Allen” and make his life miserable, and for that, I feel like a saint. Living a good life is the best revenge, but annoying the heck out of “Allen” would really hit the spot right now.

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Oh Vacation!

Tokyo

Back from vacation. *sigh* I’m alright, readjusting back into the real world, but my wife is still missing Japan. She’s been looking at flight packages to Osaka, torturing herself.

I spent my vacation with an old friend from high school and her boyfriend. It made for a very interesting trip. I met her back in computer class when I was fourteen in Winnipeg, but now we found ourselves all old and roaming around Seoul, the DMZ, and Tokyo. Good stuff. Old friends are awesome!

We hit most of the hot spots in Tokyo, from the Sanja festival in Asakusa, to the weird and sad maid café scene in Akihabara. I gotta give it to the Japanese. Very polite and very clean! Despite the kookiness, it was great having my personal space respected all the time and no older folks trying to lord over other people with old school hierarchy. It’s damned expensive though. It would be great to work in Tokyo, but I doubt if I could save a dime.

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Vacation for Once

Samurai

Will be going on vacation for a couple of weeks, so The Weekly won’t be quite as weekly. One my oldest friends, someone I’ve know since high school, will be visiting me and we’ll be visiting Tokyo together. Good times to be had!

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