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.