Tag Archives: Tokyo

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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