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2017-05-09 21:01:45

My trip to Sydney in May,2017

My wife and I visited Sydney, Australia from May 2nd to 7th. In Japan, we have several holidays from the end of April till early May, and a lot of people travel abroad during this time. We went to Sydney a couple of years ago in August, and had a wonderful stay there. There was only an hour difference in time, so I didn’t need to worry about the jet lag. The season in Australia was opposite to that in Japan. However, the temperature in Sydney in early May was very similar to that in Tokyo, and we didn’t need to think about the clothes. Moreover, there was less humidity in Sydney. Because of our positive past experiences, I imagined that Sydney would be the best place for us to travel abroad this season.

 As we were repeat travelers, we decided to use the railway systems in the city. I read a travel book that was a couple of years old and understood how to use “MyMulti”, which was a card used for any transportation in 2013. However, the system has changed and the card was replaced by “Opal” which is similar to the Oyster pass in London, or Myki card in Melbourne. At the airport, there was a big booth selling Opal. I was at a loss whether or not I should buy the card because I didn’t have any information about Opal. The office staff kindly explained how to use the card and where to add money to Opal. The city rail was a double decker train and took only twenty minutes to arrive at the nearest station from our hotel. The train was clean and comfortable, but it was often delayed. From my experience, I learned lesson number one which is not to read an old city guidebook - buy a new one to acquire the latest information.

 There were many Asian people in Sydney. Asian high school girls sat near us on the train and chatted in both Mandarin and English. Indians spoke English with an accent, but their English was usually grammatically correct. I saw a lot of Asian businessmen walking along the street. However, in pubs and cafés, the majority of customers were white people. When we went to Taronga Zoo, we saw groups of Australian high school students who were enjoying their excursion to the zoo. I’m not sure that the zoo is an academic place for high school students to visit. While we were walking on the street, I was shocked to see many white homeless people. I had the impression that the number of street dwellers had increased since my previous visit. I was wondering if Australians had to compete with these multilingual immigrants who seemed to be more business-minded than white Australians.  I learned lesson number two which indicates we should restrict the number of immigrants who might become our competitors in the near future.

 On the final day, when we were taking a walk to the Art Gallery, I suddenly got a call from a Qantas operator. She asked us to change our flight to All Nippon Airways which would depart 10 minutes later from Sydney to Haneda on the same day. Actually, I had the impression that the Qantas flight was overbooked. I agreed to change our flight to ANA. She said that she would send the new itinerary to my email address, but I didn’t have a PC to check the document. When we came back to the hotel, I met a Japanese businessman who planned to get on the same Qantas flight back to Haneda. He also got a call from Qantas asking him to change his flight to the next day’s flight. I suddenly was very worried about whether or not our ANA flight might be the next day’s flight back to Japan. I asked a concierge to call Qantas to check my flight immediately. He said it would take at least an hour to connect to the service center and that I should wait at my room for a while. While we were waiting for the call, the concierge called ANA’s operation center to make sure that our seats would be secured for that night’s flight back to Japan. The ANA service center answered the call in a minute and the concierge reconfirmed our seats on the ANA flight that night. I was very relieved to hear his answer. It took about thirty minutes to connect to a Qantas operator and took another 10 minutes to reconfirm our ANA flight for that night with her. When we arrived at Sydney Airport three hours prior to the flight time, there were many passengers at the ANA’s business counter. We waited for a while and finally got our boarding passes. I imagined that business class passengers were also worried about being kicked out of the flight when they were a bit late. However, there were many Japanese attendants at the ANA counter and they were very polite and kind. I was relieved that we were lucky to get seats on the ANA flight on the same day. Through this experience, I learned lesson number three, which told us we should avoid foreign airlines.

 I usually learn valuable lessons when I travel abroad. I actually expand my horizons and see things from a different perspective. However,I don’t want to be in trouble while travelling abroad.When we go abroad next time, I definitely procure the latest information about the city and purchase Japanese airlines’ tickets to make sure that our seats will be secured.



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1: elena

2017-05-12 11:07:17

It sounds like you had a really valuable experience in Sydney. I have never been to Australia, but one of my really close friends moved there, so I am planning to visit her in the near future. It sounds like an easy trip due to to such a slight time difference and similar weather mentioned in your blog.
I also like flying with Japanese airlines, however, I do prefer ANA to JAL. I think Japanese government supports JAL much more than ANA, so they really have to try hard to achieve the same level of service. The food is really great on both JAL and ANA flights if compared to, let's say, some major American airlines. I was also shocked a few weeks ago when they showed a passenger being carried out of the plane by force on a United flight. I honestly cannot imagine something like this happening on a Japanese airline. Western companies do have a lot to learn about "Service" from Japanese companies. On the other hand, in case of improvisational assistance, I think western companies are better. I remember when I was having trouble with a baby-stroller when departing from New York, a huge security-guard just spontaneously lifted the stroller with the kids inside and placed it into the right place. However in Japan, none ever helps me with the stroller and some staff members even ask me to wake up my children so I can fold the stroller, move it through the gate and then put the children back again. Always following the rules no matter what. I think there are positive as well as negative sides to that. Anyway, as you mentioned, it is really exciting to expand our horizons when traveling. We can learn about different cultures and new places :)
2: sfuruka

2017-05-16 16:54:36

Thank you very much for your comment, Elena. I guess Australia is a wonderful country and it is very close to Japan with no time difference. You can choose either ANA, JAL, or Qantas, but ANA is preferable if you want to depart from Haneda. However, the business class seat of JAL is much better than that of ANA. Qantas is cheaper and still uses Jumbo jet, and you may need to prepare for the worst case scenario because Qantas often overbook its flights. I often use Qantas when we go to Australia because Qantas is a member of One World and the mileage is transferred to JAL’s mileage. I used to use ANA and tried to be a member of frequent flyers, but the system of promotion to be that status was so complicated and I finally gave up. Then I applied JAL credit card to accumulate mileage and hopefully I will be upgraded to the status.
I was very lucky to get a seat on ANA flight back to Haneda. It’s still strange that ANA flight from Sydney to Haneda didn’t serve us breakfast. I often ask flight attendant to make sure that they serve meal before arriving at the destination. I was lucky to have a snack before arriving at Haneda.
I didn’t see security officers on board to drag somebody out of our flights. I guess those security officers also help people when they are in trouble. I quite often see a huge security guard in front of a posh restaurant or Loui Vuitton shop and open the door to let us in. Is this kind of help called an improvisational assistance?
I want to travel countries where English is spoken as a common language. However, it was a bit difficult for me to comprehend Australian accent, especially when we talk over the phone. I got a call from Qantas lady who spoke very fluent Australian English. I seriously feel that I need to be familiarized with Australian accent when I am in trouble. Are there any Australian teachers at Ecom? I guess we need to master Australian accent when we have a chance to go down there.
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