Go Japan All about traveling & living in Japan. http://www.lunch.com/gojapan <![CDATA[ American Airlines Could Learn a Thing or Two or Three....]]>
In a Travel and Leisure 2009 of Best and Worst Airlines, American was rated second last with on-time performance and was rated last in 2008. Based on US News America's Meanest Airlines, American was the fifth worst in total customer complaints (I wonder where we're supposed to register them because from what I've seen on the web, this number should be higher on the list) with 1.44 reported for every 100,000 passengers. identified AA as the seventh worst company in America and cited several reasons, including high baggage fees and service cutbacks. So, now that the experts have spoken, I'm sure you're dying to hear my version.

The day before we were to leave, I had a full day of relaxation, beach, bodysurfing and margaritas planned. I had been so active in Puerto Rico that I didn't look as tan as I had hoped. First, I thought we'd print out our boarding passes. It's 10:30am and I thought we'd be done to go to breakfast and then, indulge in a day of sunshine, all in all, it should've taken 10 minutes.

Seat Assignments: When we printed the boarding passes, we noticed something interesting, I wasn't sitting next to my husband, though I had reserved the seats at the same time. In fact, I was in the back of the plane. The seat that was originally mine was now listed as Premiere and would cost an additional $14 (these seats were no different from the rest of the Coach seats as I'd see later so I'm really not sure why the extra $14).

Customer Service: Well, this should be an easy fix. I go online. There wasn't an online chat session, just a phone number. Great. Now, at 10:45am, I get to stay on the phone and deal with customer service (uggggggh). Of course, since I'm in PR, I have to dial some other number and when I get a rep, she tells me I have to talk to Orbitz.. "You didn't reserve the seats on aa.com." "Yes, yes I did. Why on Earth would I not want to sit next to my husband and why does he get his seats when I reserved them at the same time?" After more arguing, I finally decide to say, as calmly as possible, "You know, I know you're just doing your job and you neither have the power nor desire to help me solve my issue. Let me talk to your manager." "Well, he's busy." "Well, aren't we all? I don't want to yell at you since you are only doing your job..." "It might be a while"

And so I hold...and hold...and hold...should we go get breakfast? And hold...then, she comes on the line to say he'll be right with me, it's 11:30a. And I wait...and wait...wow, I'm hungry, let's walk to the local spot and get breakfast and wait...and wait. At 11:45a, we're almost to the breakfast spot and she comes on again, he'll be right with me. I say, "Listen, he damn well better be on his way to this phone. My husband and I are now walking to the airport because you can't solve a simple issue over the phone and if we get there before he gets on this phone, you guys are in big, BIG trouble." (Yes, I pulled a mom line) At this point, I'm pissed off. It's now noon, yes, NOON and no, he's not on the phone. We get to the cafe and I decide to hang up, I'm not going to yell in the middle of this cafe when people are trying to enjoy their breakfasts. But, maybe I should've yelled outside....

We finish breakfast and wait for the bus to take us to the airport so we can deal with this NOW. Bus times are on Puerto Rico time and I'm not sure anything is on a set schedule. We get to the airport and they have a section specifically for special assistance with ticketing (I thought that this was for handicapped passengers, kids and the elderly but, no, apparently, they're such screw-ups that this is actually a section for people just like us). It takes a few minutes but, at 2p (!) we get up to the counter and Stuart gets us seated next to each other. The whole thing takes 5 minutes. I'm still pissed though- they should've at least given us better seats (he put us in the back) or coupons for food or SOMETHING. No apologies, crappy seats and the last day of vacation pretty much ruined. We didn't get back to the hotel until 3:30p, thankfully, we didn't have anything planned.

Domestic Baggage Fees:
  • 1st Bag: $25
  • 2nd Bag: $35
  • 3rd Bag: $100
Overweight/Oversized Bags:
  • 51-70 lbs: $60 (up $10 from last year)
  • 71-100 lbs: $100
  • 62-125 inches: $150
Remember the good ol' days, when regular bags were free and you only had to pay if it was over 55 pounds? When you got a meal on flights over an hour and a half? When you got free pillows and blankets for red eye flights? When flying was affordable and fun and comfy? No longer. If you want a pillow and blanket, it's $9.50 with ear plugs and an eye mask. Hungry? I was STARVING and the only thing that looked mildly appetizing was a small pretzel and hummus dip for $4.49.

Suffice to say, I will never be flying American Airlines again. I just wish that Virgin America flew more places. I'd much rather give my hard earned money to any other airline. I suggest that you save your money, time, sanity and vacation for something much more worthy of your efforts.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/corporation/UserReview-American_Airlines-141-1433483-219599-American_Airlines_Could_Learn_a_Thing_or_Two_or.html http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/corporation/UserReview-American_Airlines-141-1433483-219599-American_Airlines_Could_Learn_a_Thing_or_Two_or.html Fri, 27 Jan 2012 22:51:41 +0000
<![CDATA[Choya Kokuto Umeshu Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
The Japanese loves their Umeshu and it's been said to be made from steeping the unripened ume fruits in shochu (another type of Japanese liqueur) and sugar. Frankly, I don't remember liking Umeshu but I certainly love this potent drink! Yes, it's potent although it didn't feel like it at first.

It's best on the rock, with coffee or ice cream if you wish to be more adventurous!

http://www.lunch.com/thericetable/reviews/d/UserReview-Choya_Kokuto_Umeshu-44-1760078-212190.html http://www.lunch.com/thericetable/reviews/d/UserReview-Choya_Kokuto_Umeshu-44-1760078-212190.html Sat, 27 Aug 2011 10:17:37 +0000
<![CDATA[Yuzu Komachi Iki Shochu Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>
Shochu is the Japanese version of Mojito and you can literally drink them without getting drunk, if you're not a bad drinker as I'm. Well, I bought this in the CitySuper (a supermart) in Hong Kong and finished the entire bottle in 4 days, that's limiting one each day. On the rock, that is. It's excellent even on its own but it's a tad expensive since on the average, each glass would cost some US$5! But, I'm in love with it, for its fragrance and light alcoholic content. If you like grapefruit, chances is you'll like this one!

The Japanese drink this like pure water! Ahem!

http://www.lunch.com/thericetable/reviews/d/UserReview-Yuzu_Komachi_Iki_Shochu-44-1760075-212184.html http://www.lunch.com/thericetable/reviews/d/UserReview-Yuzu_Komachi_Iki_Shochu-44-1760075-212184.html Sat, 27 Aug 2011 06:11:53 +0000
<![CDATA[ Fresh as air freshener!]]> My first trial was one from Kokubo that's anti-mosquito and since I was living in China when I first got hold of this Japanese product, it was a real good one especially I did used it in the bedroom. The scent is nice, just like air freshener!

I just got the second one for anti-insect yesterday from City Super (a supermarket in Hong Kong). Apparently, Sasa sells it as well although I haven't check it out at their stores. I did google for it and found it on Sasa.com so for those in the U.S., it's good news for you, if you need one of these. I just discovered that there can be quite a bit of insects in Hong Kong in the summer months, something new to me! And, especially since I live by the seashore, you can imagine what's it like if my windows should be opened! For now, they stay shut in the night!

For those who are going camping, this is certainly a great one to have in your tent!

I'm happy with the brand and am testing out the one for anti-insect right now. It costs some HK$48 (around US$6) a bottle and last for at least 45 days. The beauty of it is that there is a cap on this one so you won't have to use it when you don't need to. The bottle can be sealed again and reuse at some later date (esp. if you just take it along for camping!). 

Interestingly enough, I never knew such products exist until recently. I knew there's those awful smelling insect-repellent where you spray on the insect and then there is air freshener. But, one that combines the two? Wow, only the Japanese can come up with something like this!

I also noted that Kokubo has some 41 products listed for sale on Sasa.com and some of it are a novelty. Check them out if you're interested: click here.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/d/UserReview-Kokubo_Anti_insect_scent-141-1749467-209986-Fresh_as_air_freshener_.html http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/d/UserReview-Kokubo_Anti_insect_scent-141-1749467-209986-Fresh_as_air_freshener_.html Thu, 7 Jul 2011 10:18:38 +0000
<![CDATA[Morinaga Pudding Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>

If you live in Hong Kong or Singapore, chances are you can get it from the Japanese supermarkets in Isetan and Sogo.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/d/UserReview-Morinaga_Pudding-141-1748720-209572.html http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/d/UserReview-Morinaga_Pudding-141-1748720-209572.html Wed, 29 Jun 2011 07:27:59 +0000
<![CDATA[Hokkaido Milk Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/d/UserReview-Hokkaido_Milk-141-1748701-209544.html http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/d/UserReview-Hokkaido_Milk-141-1748701-209544.html Tue, 28 Jun 2011 17:20:57 +0000 <![CDATA[Oaso Mothers Milk Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/d/UserReview-Oaso_Mothers_Milk-141-1748700-209543.html http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/d/UserReview-Oaso_Mothers_Milk-141-1748700-209543.html Tue, 28 Jun 2011 17:12:13 +0000 <![CDATA[Singapore Airlines Quick Tip by Sharrie]]>

http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Singapore_Airlines-1433472-207656.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Singapore_Airlines-1433472-207656.html Sat, 21 May 2011 16:57:56 +0000
<![CDATA[Japanese Cuisine Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Fugu (blowfish, poisonous; one that kills if not prepared correctly), Uni (sea urchin), Basashi (horse meat), Kujira (whale), Iruca (dolphin), Okura (salmon roe) and Shirako (fish sperm) are some of the queerest food when it comes to the Japanese Cuisine. Eating seafood raw is certainly Japanese style and in some ways it has increased the Japanese life span!

So, if you think the Chinese are strange, the Japanese aren't too far behind!

Shirako (fish sperm)

Okura (salmon roe)

Fugu (Poisonous fish)

Basashi (Raw horse meat)

Kujira (Raw whale)
http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/food/UserReview-Japanese_Cuisine-141-1333864-207127.html http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/food/UserReview-Japanese_Cuisine-141-1333864-207127.html Sun, 8 May 2011 02:12:46 +0000
<![CDATA[ American Airlines: How do I loath thee? Let me count the ways.]]>
Earlier this week, I had lamented to one of my best friends in Tampa that the weather forecast for San Francisco showed gray skies and endless rain and cold weather for every day of the week.  Instead of telling me to build an ark, she had a more fun suggestion -- go visit her in Florida.  Working and playing in a warmer environment with one of my best friends?  That's not a bad idea.  So off I went on kayak.com to look at how much tickets would be for such a last minute trip.  My mind was made up the instant that I stumbled upon an incredibly reasonably priced last minute fare on American Airlines.  Unfortunately, this is when all my woes started.  Here in chronological order, the failings of American Airlines:

Price Hike in the Middle of a Reservation
The minute I discovered those incredibly low fares, I started entering in my information to purchase.  When I hit the purchase button a few minutes later, I was informed that they had a new price which was considerably more than the original quoted price, nearly more than twice than what I'm used to paying to fly from SFO to TPA.  So wrong, but I guess business is business.  I halted my reservation session to think it over and to talk to my friend about my little quandary, to which she very generously offered to cover part of my ticket.  So we were back on again. 

Accidental Ticket Purchase
When I went back to the web page where I had halted the reservation, I noticed something odd -- it had a record locator number and the status said, "ticketed".  Did I just buy a plane ticket without intending to?  I received no email confirmation, so I had to call customer service to find out.

Unhelpful and Rude Customer Representative
I waited for a customer representative for about ten minutes, when a sour sounding lady answered my call.  All she could do was tell me that I had booked a flight.  She was so not in the mood to talk to me or answer my questions about how this could have happened or about the price change.  Not helpful at all except in telling me that I had indeed purchased a plane ticket.  Since I had already kind of had my heart set on going and my friend was going in on the ticket with me, I kept it, but I can't help but wonder how or if I could cancel if I didn't want to keep it.  I definitely did want to find out with this particular customer representative.

Buggy Website
I consider myself pretty technologically- and web-savvy, yet I managed to accidentally purchase a plane ticket.  I could have sworn that when the AA site alerted me of the fare change, they asked me to confirm whether I accepted or not, which I definitely did not do.  I'm one of those people who reads all the fine print and double checks all info before confirming anything, no matter how frivolous the purchase is, so no way did I confirm this purchase.

They Booked Me On a Full Flight
I was able to pick seats on all but one of my flights.  The one flight that I could not get seats for appeared to be completely booked.  Instead of calling them back, listening to their hold music for 10+ minutes only to deal with another rude customer representative, I braced myself for being unable to fly on the day I selected.

The Email Confirmation That Arrived 16 Hours Later
I didn't receive an email confirmation for my flight until a full sixteen hours after I had initially purchased.   Fail again.  Fortunately, I was able to email my itinerary to all relevant folks and to myself through their website.

Phone Calls At Odd Hours Of The Night
A bit over a day before my flight was scheduled to take off, what I had been dreading came true -- I received a recorded phone call from AA telling me that they were going to schedule me on another flight.  This was especially confusing because they called me at 4:30 AM.  Was it really necessary if my flight wasn't going to be for another 24+ hours?  They could have at least waited till 8 or 9 AM PST.

AA Assumes That People Have Time For Their Clownery
A few hours later at 10 AM, they called with another recorded message informing me of the new flight information that they had assigned for me.  Thank goodness I'm easy-going and my schedule this weekend was pretty flexible, because who has time to deal with this airline drama?  They didn't even confirm that this was okay with me.  They also didn't give me any explanation of why this happened, nor did they send me any emails about it.  I later found out through Googling that there was a fire at the Miami airport (my layover) and that they halted most of their flights in Miami due to this, not due to the flight being full.  A totally reasonable explanation that I would have appreciated hearing from them.

They Don't Know How to Text
Why are they calling me anyways?  I purposely signed up for text message notifications so that I wouldn't have to get phone calls..  I just logged in to checked my info and it even explicitly says that I signed up for text message notifications and that carrier charges will apply.  Apparently, text messages to them mean recorded phone calls.  This fact was confirmed when they called me at 6 AM and woke me up to tell me that my 10 AM flight was going to be on time.  I had planned on sleeping for another hour.

No Apologies or Compensation For My Inconvenience
They shaved off and wasted an entire sunny and gorgeous weekend day of my trip, with no explanation, no apology, and no compensation.  In contrast, Virgin America (check out my review) was so apologetic when the inflight entertainment system didn't work on a 45 minute flight that they kept apologizing on the plane, and they even gave me a $50 voucher for future travel, as well as sent an email of apology.  If only VA flew to more destinations because they have great prices and great customer relations.

Tap Water
To top it all off, they don't even have bottled water on their planes.  Whenever they wheel their drink carts around and someone asks for water, the flight attendant asks, "Is tap water okay?".  I'll just have a hot tea, please.

Their One Saving Grace
GoGo Inflight Wifi, but only on some of their planes.  

In terms of their planes, they aren't spectacular by any means, but they're a budget airline, so I can deal with that.  What I can't deal with, though, budget airline or not, are all of the failings that I mentioned above.  I got to Tampa eventually, but with way more of a hassle and much more inconveniences than I've ever dealt with on any other airline or ever want to deal with again, and I used to fly a lot, too.

American Airlines -- most definitely not my airline of choice and I'm only going to use their services when I really absolutely have no other options, and after this experience, I would suggest the same to everyone else, too.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/corporation/UserReview-American_Airlines-141-1433483-204821-American_Airlines_How_do_I_loath_thee_Let_me.html http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/corporation/UserReview-American_Airlines-141-1433483-204821-American_Airlines_How_do_I_loath_thee_Let_me.html Tue, 29 Mar 2011 05:26:29 +0000
<![CDATA[ Aftershocks!]]> nd largest economy in the world for the majority of the last few decades, until recently overtaken by China.
Japanese have a great deal of investments (direct or indirect) in the world. Japanese also holds a lot of treasury bills. This has the world at large trembling with fears as to what the Japanese would do in order to save their very own economy.
Will the Japanese:
  • Issue government bonds? Who will they sell it to? Internally or externally?
  • Dilute their foreign holding of investments and assets?
  • Raise taxes (esp. consumption since it is quite low as compared to major developed countries in the world. A mere 5% compared to Singapore’s 7%)?
  • Rebuild their infra-structure as quickly as they did the Kobe’s earthquake in 1995?

Interestingly, major hotels in Hong Kong are no longer supplying fresh fish used in sashimi and sushi in their restaurants. People from all over the world whose babies are feeding on Japanese milk powder are stocking up old stocks or simply refused to buy Japanese milk powder unless it’s certified free of radiation while some are crazy enough to buy all those powder in the supermarkets for their unborn babies! So, even if they didn't get hit directly from the tsunami, some Japanese encounter the tsunami in their businesses. Exporters see their orders cancelled overnight and can't do anything about it!
What’s the direct impact for you and me?
Well, if you’re interested in buying the iPad 2, you better make it to the shop quick. Apparently, Japanese’s supply chain would be affected and part of iPad’s components are actually manufactured in Japan. As with some components on the Boeing 787!

In terms of logistic, with some ports and airports closed in Japan, some flows are affected where transportation sector is involved.  With less power, many plants and manufacturing plants are also closed for business. So, yes, the full impact from all areas has not been measured and discounted. The aftershocks are tremendous in the business arena. No one clearly knows what the future would bring. It's too mind-boggling! One silver lining is that the Japanese people are very resourceful and resilient. So, have confident that they will come back in no time!

(A Lunch Featured Review)]]>
http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/event/UserReview-2011_Japan_Earthquake_and_Tsunami-141-1716626-204249-Aftershocks_.html http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/event/UserReview-2011_Japan_Earthquake_and_Tsunami-141-1716626-204249-Aftershocks_.html Sun, 20 Mar 2011 14:48:16 +0000
<![CDATA[ The Panic Sets In]]>

So, the potential danger? Radiation! Yes, we heard of it on the news for the last few days. Everyone is afraid of getting cancer as a result of exposure to radiation! Even the Chinese in China have now wiped out all the iodized salt from the shelves in the supermarkets! How ridiculous that is! But in times of panic, people do weird things. Just like those Singaporeans who hoarded rice back then during the Iraq attack of Kuwait! Granted, salt is not that costly to hoard but to think it's going to save you from cancer?! Ha! If only the solution is that simple, Japanese leaders won't be cracking their heads now!

I kept reading about those who are sacrificing their lives to work around the clock at the sites where radiation might ultimately kill them. In some ways, I feel disconnected. It's like something that's so far away and yet I marvel at their sense of duty and professionalism. These are people who are trying to help while there are others who think nothing but themselves. For many, life goes on as per normal. If you are living far from Japan and are not directly affected by it in any way, like those in Libya, the pressing issue is more local. So, while the White House is planning to help the Japanese, it is also planning for air strikes?! Interesting, isn't it? I don't know what to make of the world nowadays. 

From the economic standpoint, these 2 pressures are not good for the world though. While the foreigners are leaving Japan, Japanese are liquidating their portfolios and investments abroad to bring back funds to save themselves. The Yen has soared to historical new highs while the USD tumbles. Now, you can only get some 76 yen for a $! You heard me right, the country is having problems but the Yen is not dropping. Instead, it is skyrocketing! Instability in Libya and the whole of Middle East, recently reported Bahrain is also turning into a hot spot, will pressurize the prices of gas to new high. So, those in New York are speculating like crazy in the financial arena. Interesting, isn't it?

Well, if you're driving to work, you can no longer feel disconnected from the world events, can you? Clearly, if our country decide to ration our use of electricity, we would be more inclined to see how the Japanese are doing, aren't we? Granted, there are times when we are tempted to look away because it's a depressing situation and we do feel helpless in many ways. Reading about someone's plight can be hard especially if you feel deeply for poor souls. And many, as I sometime do, take the easy way out... by not looking and thinking too much about it! That is one of the way we deal with stresses in life.

So, what can we do really? Yes, life goes on for majority of us and even for the Japanese. But, life should not go on as if nothing had happened. It's not how we can help (with donations or whatever contributions) the Japanese with that should be sufficient but rather what we take out of this event that should matter. How we should treat the environment, the world and the people in it, that should be the lessons of the day, isn't it? Panic is natural, but panic without even using our brain and create more distress in the world we live in... we can do without!

Going to Japan for the next few months is not a viable solution. It is not good for the Japanese who have problems of their own to cope with and also not good for someone who doesn't speak their language and end up a burden during this difficult period. Granted, the Japanese will need help in rebuilding and those who can truly help, by all means, help! As for the other people, staying put and staying sane are the best option :-)]]>
http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/event/UserReview-2011_Japan_Earthquake_and_Tsunami-141-1716626-204243-The_Panic_Sets_In.html http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/event/UserReview-2011_Japan_Earthquake_and_Tsunami-141-1716626-204243-The_Panic_Sets_In.html Sun, 20 Mar 2011 08:50:52 +0000
<![CDATA[Tokyo (city) Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/city/UserReview-Tokyo_city_-141-1397659-203828.html http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/city/UserReview-Tokyo_city_-141-1397659-203828.html Sun, 13 Mar 2011 08:23:18 +0000 <![CDATA[ An emergency of epic proportions......how can I help?]]> 8.9 magnitude earthquake and a 23 foot tsunami were not enough the people of Japan now have to deal with the potential fallout from a massive explosion that has rocked the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant. It is not yet clear whether massive levels of radiation have been released into the atmosphere. This powerful blast has the potential to exacerbate the problem many times over and put millions more people at risk.  Please join me in praying that this turns out not to be the case.  What I thought was a -3 or -4 situation has just morphed into a -5 for sure!  It is incumbant upon each and every one of us who has the wherewithall to assist our Japanese brothers and sisters in their time of need.  I urge everyone in the Lunch community to take a few moments to make a donation to assist those on the ground in Japan who are struggling to cope with the death and devastation all around them.  There are lots of quick and easy ways for you to make a donation. Here are a few to consider:

Several groups are accepting text donations:

•American Red Cross, text REDCROSS to 90999
•Salvation Army, text JAPAN to 80888
•Convoy of Hope, text TSUNAMI to 50555
•GlobalGiving, text JAPAN to 50555
•World Relief, text WAVE to 50555

Or if you prefer you can make an online donation by visting one of the following websites:

American Red Cross www.redcross.org
Save The Children     www.savethechildren.org    
Global Giving              www.globalgiving.orgAmerican

In addition, a number of religious organizations including The Salvation Army and Catholic Relief Services are also accepting donations.  I cannot stress how important it is that we all respond as quickly as possible.  It is going to take a Herculean effort by governments around the world to help the Japanese people cope with the devastating hand that they have been dealt.   But government cannot do it alone.  It is going to be up to individuals from all over the world to step up and make up the difference.  The amount of damage is simply incalcuable.  In times of trouble, the American people have always proven to the the most generous people in the world.  So let's not let our Japanese brothers and sisters down.   NO AMOUNT IS TOO SMALL....PLEASE MAKE YOUR DONATION NOW!!!   ]]>
http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/event/UserReview-2011_Japan_Earthquake_and_Tsunami-141-1716626-203792-An_emergency_of_epic_proportions_how_can_I.html http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/event/UserReview-2011_Japan_Earthquake_and_Tsunami-141-1716626-203792-An_emergency_of_epic_proportions_how_can_I.html Sat, 12 Mar 2011 14:01:36 +0000
<![CDATA[ May God Help The Japanese!]]> THE SINKING OF JAPAN came to mind. Yes, I spent an afternoon following the news and images. Clearly, seeing it on the news is a vast difference from experiencing it live. The one time I felt earthquake was when I was in L.A. some 2 decades ago or before. Even that time, I was in bed and I managed to feel giddy for a few minutes!

Ok, Hollywood 'glorifies' disaster. These scenes are not from Hollywood but a reasonably scene from Japanese movie "Sinking of Japan". They are not news clips from today's tsunami that hits Japanese coasts. Instead, they are what could have been and if indeed that day come, the world will certainly feel its ripples, one way or another. Until that day come, let's take a look at what's going on right now, this very moment.

Japan is one of the countries (if not the only one) in the world best equipped to handle a crisis like a tsunami and earthquake. The Japanese have a system intact which they trained their toddlers to follow whenever something of this extent happens. So, if you've to be in an earthquake zone, Japan is probably the country you'd like to be in. That is, IF you've to be there! Now, right at this moment, a lot of people don't want to be in Japan. Airports and public transports are all halted. People have no way to go home after work. Thank God it's friday too, they can at least go out drinking, if they have the mood, that is. Look, I'm not taking things lightly, just that if there is nothing much you can do other than worry, then the next best thing is to get the most out of a difficult situation, is it not?

The biggest earthquake to hit Japan in 140 years, a 10-m tsunami and 50 countries are feared to be affected. As it is still ongoing in the world, we clearly have no idea the exact path of the tsunami and the total destruction it will wrecked. Hopefully, we have seen the worst this afternoon but it is unlikely since the tsunami is still moving towards some small islands in the Pacific Rim as well & as far as New Zealand and Chile! I just learned today that tsunami waves actually travel as quickly as the Boeing 737, ie. at 800 km/h. Tsunami waves also come in more than one, that means it can move ashore, back to sea and then returns in full force some 20 mins later! Tsunami is now expected in Hawaii and countries like Indonesia, Fiji, Australia and New Zealand.

According to official sources, "This is a massive one, and it will have different effects depending on the location, on the seabed, and on other sorts of characteristics. But clearly this is very very large, and from that perspective, all countries need to be alert, on standby for the moment." Many countries in Asia are evacuating their residents to higher areas, especially after the last disaster in 2004. CNN reported that

~~~ Friday's 8.9-magnitude temblor in Japan was the largest earthquake since a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck the Banda Aceh area of Indonesia on Dec. 26, 2004, causing a massive tsunami that killed about 250,000 people in 14 countries and washed away entire communities. The tsunami caused nearly $10 billion in damage and more casualties than any other tsunami in history, according to the United Nations.

The earthquake, initially reported as a 7.8 earthquake, was upgraded to an 8.9 quake.

"When you jump a magnitude from 7 to 8, it's not 10 times stronger, it's 1000 times stronger," said CNN International meteorologist Ivan Cabrera. "With an ... earthquake that shallow, that close to shore, there will be more than one tsunami." ~~~

So, watch out for all that's happening in the world. And PRAY as hard as you can for everyone's sake!!!

I'm now updating this event to a -5 as the number of lives lost have increased tremendously due to the tsunami in Japan. Luckily, the damage is contained elsewhere. However, Japan suffered the most with expected death toll to as many as over 10,000! A city near Sendai had been totally wiped out and as many as 9500 people are feared missing!

Looking at the pictures coming out of Sendai, I could no longer recognized the city I once visited a few years back. The rebuilding will take time and other parts of Japan are also experiencing stress and anxiety. As many as 6 million households were without electricity and water at one stage the last 2 days. The disaster has demonstrated how insignificant humans can be when it comes to dealing with a natural disaster of this scale. Fortunately for me, my friends in Tokyo are not badly affected. Still, the residents wonder when and if there will be more aftershocks of that magnitude! What a scary thought to live through in coming days!]]>
http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/event/UserReview-2011_Japan_Earthquake_and_Tsunami-141-1716626-203472-May_God_Help_The_Japanese_.html http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/event/UserReview-2011_Japan_Earthquake_and_Tsunami-141-1716626-203472-May_God_Help_The_Japanese_.html Fri, 11 Mar 2011 13:37:06 +0000
<![CDATA[2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/event/UserReview-2011_Japan_Earthquake_and_Tsunami-1716626-203468.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/event/UserReview-2011_Japan_Earthquake_and_Tsunami-1716626-203468.html Fri, 11 Mar 2011 12:31:24 +0000 <![CDATA[ Zen]]>

I did take a general course in Japanese language in my 1st year of undergraduate studies in University of Toronto. That was an interesting yet the hardest (or one that commands your full attention and time) one to master. A language is not a simple subject and Japanese has to be one of the most complicated of all the languages in the world (other than Chinese and possibly Korean and many of the East Asian languages). However, my passion about Japan took me through the entire course. I decided then that learning Japanese in Canada is just not the way to do it. So, after I graduated I began to venture abroad, i.e. to Japan on many occasions, so much so that I went almost every season of the year for about 7 or 8 years. Alas, that didn’t do the trick either. So, I’m wondering if one day I’d be lucky enough to stay in the country and pick up the language in the process! As you well know, Japan is one of the most expensive countries to live in! I’d have to strike jackpot to do so!
Japanese as a language

Learning Japanese is a little easier for the Chinese who knows Kanji. As we all know, there are plenty of overseas Chinese who don’t even speak Chinese, let alone know the Chinese characters. I was fortunate in that my parents believed in providing their children education in Chinese (at least a working knowledge of, if not the entire vocabulary). Well, that has to do with their higher education in Taiwan. Hence, it is imperative that we the children know Mandarin. So, I began to learn Chinese Language at the age of 10. That wasn’t an easy task either. Nonetheless, I went through the pains many years ago, just like I did the English Language.  Japanese is actually my 4th language. One I took when I was almost an adult, at 18. 8 years later is a great deal when it comes to learning a language. Futhermore, as I can’t stress enough, if there is a language you’ve to learn as an adult, don’t pick Japanese. It’s not for the faint-hearted!

Japanese is complicated. There are 3 types of writing  you’d have to learn.
  1. Kanji: Somewhat the same or at least v. similar to the Chinese characters. Kanji literally translates to Chinese characters (漢字)
  2. Hiragana: Japanese basic way of writing for most verbs and words
  3. Katakana: Japanese writing of words that usually originated from the western world which sounded similar to English. For example, the writing of Cheese in Katakana when pronounced sounded similar to cheese but is not written in English.
For these, you can be guaranteed that you’d have some thousands of words to learn and to write, at the least. Not just a mere 26 syllables!
Ok, that’s about all I’m going to touch on Japanese as a language. It’s a reasonable dry subject as far as I’m concerned. Using a language as a working language is a lot more interesting. That translates to having interactions with the Japanese naturally.

Japanese as a race
Well, what can I say? Due to the nature and course of history, the Chinese and the Japanese were great enemies in World War II. That translates to a great deal of tension between these 2 races. I’m born a Chinese but (luckily for me, that’s the way I choose to see it) I wasn’t born in China and I was bestowed with kindness from many Japanese whom I’ve come across during my years of travels. Hence, in my own personal reality, Japanese are not people whom I’m born to hate.  Neither had my ancestors or parents been subjected to cruelty from the Japanese. Hence, I was able to see the Japanese as simply another world citizen (not monsters)!

I think if we as people want to live peacefully ourselves, we’ll have to see past history. Naturally, it is easier said than done and especially impossible if you have been subjected to cruelty yourselves. In that sense, everyone has a different reality. Wars have a way of corrupting reality and changing people. At best, I’ll blame it all on the politicians who started it all! Let’s not start on war, it’s another subject that warrant closer look and I simply don’t know enough or have experiences enough to discuss it. Hopefully, never!
Japanese as a race is an interesting one. It is exotic and interesting to see the way a Japanese would think, live and interact with outsiders and foreigners. I’ve always been fascinated by anything and everything Japanese so much so many just claimed that I must have been a Japanese in my previous life!
I used to comment that I’m Japanese by taste, Chinese by look and Western by thought. Yes, I have a great and inexhaustible taste for everything Japanese. Japanese food, Japanese décor, Japanese products and Japanese clothing! Lucky me, isn’t it? I won’t have problem fitting into the Japanese society! Now, let’s get me a Japanese boyfriend, LOL!
Well, from what I’ve heard from my Japanese friend, Japanese boyfriend not! Men in Japan are quite hard to “serve”, I’ve been told. They are demanding and also extremely egoistic. That’s why many Japanese women love to date Westerners instead. That’s just what they said. I don’t know the Japanese on such a personal level to attest to that. So, DON’T take my word for it! We do know that equality is something that’s almost non-existence in Japan though. Naturally, there are versions of how true that is. Afterall, women in Japan have total freedom in that you see them traveling in groups and also solo to faraway places like the Middle East and South America. I believe they do have freedom of movement and also thought. The only thing that’s lacking for the Japanese lady is equal opportunities in the work arena. You could hardly see any Japanese woman as CEOs or actively involving themselves in Politics. Hence, in that sense, it is uniquely Japanese.
Japanese Culture
Japanese culture is truly exotic as far as I’m concerned. Just take a look at the number of shrines, the tea ceremony (as opposed to tea party ;-)) and the kimono that Japanese still adorn these days. They are the one and only in the world. Japanese has a lot of things that are culturally distinctively theirs alone. No one in the world practice the same rituals or ceremonies. Highly interesting to observe for us foreigners.
In addition, not only are the Japanese able to keep and preserve what’s from the past, they are able to recreate new styles and then evolving that into a new culture that’s unique theirs. One simply has to go to Harajuku and Shibuya to know what I’m referring to. Japanese has a great sense of style and one that cannot be replicated elsewhere without being credited as typically Japanese. That is what makes the Japanese such an interesting race to most of the Asians and possibly also the Westerners.

Japanese culture is not one that’s open and does not encourage integration with the rest of the world. Japanese, although advanced in many ways and areas, is not one that takes to the world easily (other than Apple products, that is). Japanese has its own culture when it comes to technology. It even has its own system when it comes to the mobile phones!  
One thing I do love about the Japanese culture is that Japanese makes full use of resources and bits and pieces of history. One can see how well the Japanese integrate an architecture from centuries  ago with the high-tech skysrapers of today. You see that in no apparent manner more so elsewhere than in Japan! Japan takes pride in its own culture more than anywhere else too!
Japanese as a culture is proud of itself and it has reasons to be proud too! That is what is so great about a country and a race. It’d be great if every nation on this planet feels the same about their countries as the Japanese do! The Japanese are so loyal to their own country and race that they almost live in a world of their own!

(A Lunch Featured Review)]]>
http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/d/UserReview-Japanese-141-1379842-197556-Zen.html http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/d/UserReview-Japanese-141-1379842-197556-Zen.html Mon, 20 Dec 2010 12:42:38 +0000
<![CDATA[Japanese Yen (JPY) Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Japanese_Yen_JPY_-1664616-193530.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Japanese_Yen_JPY_-1664616-193530.html Thu, 11 Nov 2010 14:13:51 +0000 <![CDATA[ For the love of Japan]]>

During my rampant and chaotic travels across the globe in the last decade, JPY has to be one of the currencies that I've exchanged a lot over the years. At one time, I traveled to Japan every season of the year! Not only that, I contributed quite a bit to its economy (and hence creation of jobs ;-) That's the way I reason for my global spendings, hahaha... makes me feel a lot better and not just wasting money away by rationalizing it that way :-D). Now, don't you feel good when in the process of shopping, you are also contributing to the creation of jobs and the economy?! Well, the Japanese always thank me gracefully whenever I spent money in their countries. Even now, I'm a lover of Japanese made goods. Made in Japan is a benchmark which most countries in the world are not able to cross, except perhaps for Switzerland and limited only to a few of its product line.


Another more realistic reason why I like it is that by holding it, even if it fluctuates in exchange rates, I know I can still use it to buy things I like whenever I wish to. It is unlike that of Australian Dollar whereby despite its recent gains and fantastic performance, I can find only few things to buy there! Well, since I'm not rich like some Chinese are (who buy up mining companies and other raw materials for their businesses) stocking up on Aussie $ is not a meaningful goal for me. I know, I know, one can easily convert it back to whatever currencies. Problem is what if it's at its height now? Then I'm going to face losses in getting rid of it! Unlike the Japanese Yen, I still derive utility and happiness in the process of getting rid of it! ;-) See, I write reviews from a different perspective as compared to many people. I like writing things that I've personal experiences in and not so much for business. Afterall, there is no monetary gains from writing review on Lunch! So, I'm left with a free hand instead.

Another enjoyment is this... In Japan, you can easily be a millionaire! That's a mere US$12,200! Isn't that great to tell everyone you're a millionaire in Japan? LOL... I know, cheap thrills but still thrills, right?!

Well, as far as I'm concerned, I like JPY for whatever queer personal reasons. I also enjoy my shopping experiences in Japan and I don't seem to get enough of it even after 30 years! What can I say, except, perhaps I'm a Japanese in my last life! Gambatte Kudasai, Nippon! I love Japan!!!

In the event that you're stuck with lots of Yen, why not get one of these cutie? I mean the robots, ok? :-)
That's a lot better than getting stuck with a currency that'd eventually end up as wallpaper, don't you think? Let's go shopping in Tokyo! Asimo it is!

http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/d/UserReview-Japanese_Yen_JPY_-141-1664616-193529-For_the_love_of_Japan.html http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/d/UserReview-Japanese_Yen_JPY_-141-1664616-193529-For_the_love_of_Japan.html Thu, 11 Nov 2010 14:13:00 +0000
<![CDATA[United Airlines Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Mileage Plus, UA's official frequent flyer program. Here, and if you want to take advantage of it to the fullest, is where you are able to redeem tickets on Singapore Airline ever much easier than on Krisflyer, SQ's own program!]]> http://www.lunch.com/airtravel/reviews/d/UserReview-United_Airlines-129-1433372-116404.html http://www.lunch.com/airtravel/reviews/d/UserReview-United_Airlines-129-1433372-116404.html Fri, 20 Aug 2010 11:05:18 +0000 <![CDATA[ An uncomfortable journey, all around.]]>
Even WITH those very low expectations, my experience this summer on Delta airlines was pretty poor.  I typically fly Continental, Southwest or Virgin, so this was the first Delta flight I've taken in years.  Here are the most notable points of my experience on our July flight:
  • Really Uncomfortable Seats.  They were the old-school seats without a separate headrest portion - just one big flat slab for a back, done in that very uncomfortable pleather.  Now I'm not asking for individual DirecTV monitors in every seat or even power outlets.  Just something that one could reasonable expect to sit in for a 5 hour flight, without physical pain.  Also, I couldn't recline my seat without literally crushing the poor gentleman behind me, as he as an averagely tall man.
  • Flight Attendants : Apathetic at Best with Some Highlights of Flat Out Rudeness.  Especially considering we were traveling with a toddler (a very well behaved one, mind you), one would expect some slight modicum of courtesy, right?  On my way to an urgent potty-break, with 3 year old in my arms, I politely ask the flight attendant if we can pass by the food cart when she gets a chance.  She responds by rolling her eyes, huffing, and snapping *grumble* UGH, JUST A MINUTE *grumble*

    Wait... seriously?!  That's the best you can do?  Did you just find out what your profession entails this very moment?  It's all in the delivery, and even if she had needed to say no - it could've been done with a lot more grace and a lot less attitude. 

    There were several other instances of this gruff attitude, which I'll spare you.  You get the gist.  Being around people who appear to hate their job is such a buzzkill though, that much I will say.
  • Damaged Stroller at Gate-Check.  I've been gate-checking strollers for nearly 4 years now, on a variety of airlines to a variety of destinations.  Never once have we had any damaged gear.  Delta however, managed to completely break one of the handles on our $300 stroller. 
  • Poor Solutions for Resolving Problems/Claims.  Because we were on a red-eye with a toddler, I chose not to attempt a go with the baggage claim folks at 5am regarding the broken stroller.   Instead, on our return flight I brought it up with the airline staff.  They were very nice and helpful in telling me that the damage had to be inspected in person, and they could do nothing other than note my file that I would be stopping in the baggage claim area to show them (ie. prove?) the damage.  Well, again we were with a tired child and it was after 11pm at LAX --- but I still soldiered through in an attempt to go show my evidence.  Couldn't find a counter or representative after 10 minutes of searching though, and gave up... eating the loss.
  • Inaudible, Unintelligible Pilot.  During several points where we needed to hear relevant information, the pilot was mumbling and practically whispering, making us miss out on knowing why we were endlessly taxing to the gate, and on the return flight, whether we'd made up for our late time in-flight.  The flight attendants were perfectly audible, so presuming it's the same audio system, I'm blaming the pilot.
Overall, it wasn't the worst flight experience of our lives, by a long shot.  But it was pretty lame and I find it really sad that this type of experience is just the accepted norm in air travel today. ]]>
http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/corporation/UserReview-Delta_Airlines-141-1433491-113511-An_uncomfortable_journey_all_around_.html http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/corporation/UserReview-Delta_Airlines-141-1433491-113511-An_uncomfortable_journey_all_around_.html Tue, 17 Aug 2010 23:22:10 +0000
<![CDATA[Hiroshima Peace Memorial Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Hiroshima_Peace_Memorial-1444268-111931.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Hiroshima_Peace_Memorial-1444268-111931.html Sun, 15 Aug 2010 07:19:56 +0000 <![CDATA[Memoirs of a Geisha (Book) Quick Tip by MNeulander]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/book/UserReview-Memoirs_of_a_Geisha_Book_-74-1627816-107624.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/book/UserReview-Memoirs_of_a_Geisha_Book_-74-1627816-107624.html Sat, 14 Aug 2010 00:06:32 +0000 <![CDATA[Memoirs of a Geisha (Book) Quick Tip by vampire_eyez]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/book/UserReview-Memoirs_of_a_Geisha_Book_-74-1627816-104413.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/book/UserReview-Memoirs_of_a_Geisha_Book_-74-1627816-104413.html Wed, 11 Aug 2010 01:22:10 +0000 <![CDATA[ Not good... but most are worse]]>
Then they made air-travel a nightmare. Regional jets.... paying for luggage.... no peanuts.... security.... mean flight attendents .... you name the misfortune and I have experienced it on a flight. 

Continental Airlines was (and to some extent still is) better than the rest. The planes were comfortable, the flight attendents were nice and the people were helpful.

The run-down

- They are the king of the regional jet
- $25 for your first checked bag
- They are still reasonably friendly
- They will feed you!
- As reliable as anyone in the industry

 So while they aren't quite as good as they once (early 2000's) were they are still better than most (USAirways and Delta).]]>
http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/corporation/UserReview-Continental_Airlines-141-1441061-104330-Not_good_but_most_are_worse.html http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/corporation/UserReview-Continental_Airlines-141-1441061-104330-Not_good_but_most_are_worse.html Tue, 10 Aug 2010 19:22:31 +0000
<![CDATA[United Airlines Quick Tip by krisziel]]> http://www.lunch.com/airtravel/reviews/d/UserReview-United_Airlines-129-1433372-67036.html http://www.lunch.com/airtravel/reviews/d/UserReview-United_Airlines-129-1433372-67036.html Mon, 19 Jul 2010 06:03:37 +0000 <![CDATA[Singapore Airlines Quick Tip by megmeg]]> http://www.lunch.com/airtravel/reviews/d/UserReview-Singapore_Airlines-129-1433472-65440.html http://www.lunch.com/airtravel/reviews/d/UserReview-Singapore_Airlines-129-1433472-65440.html Mon, 12 Jul 2010 18:19:47 +0000 <![CDATA[Memoirs of a Geisha (Book) Quick Tip by megmeg]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/book/UserReview-Memoirs_of_a_Geisha_Book_-1627816-64400.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/book/UserReview-Memoirs_of_a_Geisha_Book_-1627816-64400.html Tue, 6 Jul 2010 17:28:27 +0000 <![CDATA[Memoirs of a Geisha (Book) Quick Tip by ReisenJen]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/book/UserReview-Memoirs_of_a_Geisha_Book_-74-1627816-64302.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/book/UserReview-Memoirs_of_a_Geisha_Book_-74-1627816-64302.html Tue, 6 Jul 2010 02:42:39 +0000 <![CDATA[Memoirs of a Geisha (Book) Quick Tip by akaspan]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/book/UserReview-Memoirs_of_a_Geisha_Book_-74-1627816-63987.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/book/UserReview-Memoirs_of_a_Geisha_Book_-74-1627816-63987.html Sun, 4 Jul 2010 04:54:31 +0000 <![CDATA[Beating Japan: How Hundreds of American Companies Are Beating Japan Now Quick Tip by ryanrevolver]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/book/UserReview-Beating_Japan_How_Hundreds_of_American_Companies_Are_Beating_Japan_Now-74-1131248-63110.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/book/UserReview-Beating_Japan_How_Hundreds_of_American_Companies_Are_Beating_Japan_Now-74-1131248-63110.html Thu, 1 Jul 2010 02:56:22 +0000 <![CDATA[Memoirs of a Geisha (Book) Quick Tip by Helensbooks]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/book/UserReview-Memoirs_of_a_Geisha_Book_-74-1627816-62219.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/book/UserReview-Memoirs_of_a_Geisha_Book_-74-1627816-62219.html Sat, 26 Jun 2010 19:21:01 +0000 <![CDATA[ Short Hops on Delta Connection are Fairly Painless]]> I typically avoid short hop flights, but I was pleased with my first experience with Delta Connection.  Because I was flying to Louisville and was seeking an economical flight, I was forced to set aside my longstanding bias against these types of connections.  Delta offered the best deal, but only if I connected through Memphis on the way in and Atlanta on the way out.  Although on past short hops I have flown turboprop planes (hence my distaste), both of these legs were using jet aircraft.

The inbound flight was on a 50-seat Canadair Regional Jet CRJ-200 operated by Pinnacle and the outbound flight was on a 70-seat Canadair Regional Jet CRJ-700 operated by Atlantic Southeast Airlines.  Although the planes were small, both flights were smooth and without incident.  I was not able to discern a difference in service between the two carriers.

Neither aircraft have space in the overhead bins for large carry-on luggage.  So you have two options.  You can check the luggage at the terminal and incur the checked-baggage fee or you can check the "carry-on" bag at the gate as you board the plane for no additional fee.  Bags checked at the terminal must be retrieved from baggage claim at the destination.  Bags checked at the gate are retrieved at the destination gate as you deplane.  This is definitely the way to go as it is more convenient, faster, and free!

The seats on these planes are definitely smaller than those on larger jet aircraft.  So the flight itself is not as comfortable, but I guess the upside is that the flight is not as long either.

Short hops are a hassle because of all of time spent waiting for the connection, boarding, and deplaning for what is typically a very short flight.  But they can definitely save you money, if you have the time to waste.  I was pleased that the flights were hassle free and that I was able to check my larger carry-on without having to pay another fee.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/corporation/UserReview-Delta_Airlines-141-1433491-23345-Short_Hops_on_Delta_Connection_are_Fairly_Painless.html http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/corporation/UserReview-Delta_Airlines-141-1433491-23345-Short_Hops_on_Delta_Connection_are_Fairly_Painless.html Mon, 14 Jun 2010 21:23:29 +0000
<![CDATA[Green Tea Quick Tip by Bethany_K]]> http://www.lunch.com/HealthyLifestyle/reviews/d/UserReview-Green_Tea-108-1334501-56384.html http://www.lunch.com/HealthyLifestyle/reviews/d/UserReview-Green_Tea-108-1334501-56384.html Wed, 28 Apr 2010 18:39:05 +0000 <![CDATA[Singapore Airlines Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> http://www.lunch.com/gosingapore/reviews/d/UserReview-Singapore_Airlines-169-1433472-56151.html http://www.lunch.com/gosingapore/reviews/d/UserReview-Singapore_Airlines-169-1433472-56151.html Mon, 19 Apr 2010 13:16:37 +0000 <![CDATA[Shinkansen (Bullet Train) Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/d/UserReview-Shinkansen_Bullet_Train_-141-1433530-55938.html http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/d/UserReview-Shinkansen_Bullet_Train_-141-1433530-55938.html Tue, 13 Apr 2010 00:15:13 +0000 <![CDATA[Kyoto (city) Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/d/UserReview-Kyoto_city_-141-1421091-55844.html http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/d/UserReview-Kyoto_city_-141-1421091-55844.html Thu, 8 Apr 2010 17:04:45 +0000 <![CDATA[Travel Japan - Top Experiences]]>
(A Lunch Featured List)]]>
http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/Lists-141-2084-Travel_Japan_Top_Experiences.html http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/Lists-141-2084-Travel_Japan_Top_Experiences.html Thu, 8 Apr 2010 15:29:02 +0000
<![CDATA[ The way to a customer's heart]]>
I know NWA sucks for many Americans. Having said that, NWA aircrafts that ply between U.S. and Asia are actually a lot newer and bigger than those that fly domestically. In most cases, it's a Boeing 767 or Airbus 330 aircrafts. Those are some of the newest in Northwest's fleet of aircrafts. Although by that I don't mean brand new like those from Singapore Airlines or Cathay Pacific. Nonetheless, it would do. What I really liked about it was when I began to reach its Gold & Platinum frequent flyer status. That entitled me to get seats right up at the front and also the first few to eat! Nothing different from the rest of the airlines. But, what's great about NWA back then was it was ultra easy to book the tickets online. Its website was one of the most user friendly around. The process was short and simple. Redeeming award tickets were just as simple! That was then. Now, I no longer even go anywhere near it online!

In addition, the gold elite or platinum elite members get free upgrade to first class on NWA when connecting within U.S.A.! Hence, I never complain about how it sucks domestically ;-)

The other attraction about NWA to me was its must-stop hub at Narita. Because of it, I was transiting in Narita Airport (Tokyo) a great deal. That was real fun, my 2nd most favorite airport in the world! Shopping in Narita is a culture. One simply couldn't escape the Japanese culture when in Narita. If you've a long layover you can even get out of the airport to visit a temple nearby! Otherwise, the Narita airport is like a huge mall with a great many choices of restaurants where you can indulge in sushi, sashimi, soba and udon to your heart's content. If not, you might also have lots of fun shopping for those cute souvenirs or cakes and sweets of all kinds and colors. I simply love getting "lost" in Narita! NWA never fails to transit here, so that was a great deal of fun!

Before I forget, NWA has excellent lounges in Narita as well. I think it has 2 (if not 3) lounges at this airport. The two of them I had been to had great snacks and beers on the tap! I love the NWA lounges here. Imagine getting iMac in the lounge for surfing online; that was one hell of a perk! I didn't make a count but there were enough of iMac there for its passengers!

These are just some of the perks for being a frequent flyer on this airline. What about when things go wrong, you say? Like flight delays, etc... Now, I've something to share which I think even Singapore Airlines pale in comparison when it comes to retaining customers' loyalty.

This is a very personal experience. It is my experience although I'm not sure if it's only specific to a few of us. Afterall, I almost did become a million miles member ;-) Here is the whole story...

Back then a few years ago, I don't really remember which year, probably sometime around 2002 to 2005, I had chalked up a great deal of mileage points to be able to travel for free quite a bit within the U.S. What I did was to redeem an award ticket from San Francisco (SFO) to Toronto (YYZ). The flight as most of you who traveled on NWA would know, entails a stop in Minneapolis or Detroit Airport, Northwest hubs. The flight was on its way to Toronto and I was due to arrive around 7 pm local time. What happened was during the midst of the flight, we were told we couldn't land in Minneapolis due to some typhoon and bad stormy weather. The airport in Minneapolis was shut down before we were due to arrive! So, the pilot landed our big plane in some hidden corner, a place I was told later, it's Fargo! Good grief! Do you know where Fargo is? North Dakota! So, that's how I made it to North Dakota (for those who knew my travel map & how crazed I was about to cover 1/2 the states of United States ;-)). Well, nothing bad as far as I'm concerned. Simply a few hours of delays and I figured we'll get there eventually. I had lots of books and food with me, no problem! :-)

And, here's a tip for those of you who travel frequently. Always bring enough to entertain yourself and to keep your stomach full! It's now a common sight for passengers to bring food onboard since the cutting cost strategy had left lots of people hungry on the plane! Back then though, it's not a common thing to do. The poor lady who sat next to me was without food & entertainment! It was a few hours of hell for a lot of people on that flight. The nightmare is only beginning... What happened was that now that we were in Fargo, you'd think there is an airport there, isn't it? Right, there was & is. The only problem was our aircraft was a big one and this teeny tiny airport has no stairs that will reach the height of this plane!!! Now what?! Stuck inside the plane for at least 5 hours! And the plane ran out of food and water! Imagine what a nightmare that was for parents with kids!

As for me I was just finishing a novel. And then the flight took off again. By then, when we finally arrived in Minneapolis, the airport was reopened again. Safe flight. But, it's already midnight! We need to find a place to stay since we all missed our connections! No planes were taking off in the middle of the night. And, can you believe it, most of the shops and restaurants in that airport were already closed! Not to mention all the hotels in the airport areas were full due to all those passengers who missed their flights but arrived earlier than us. The only alternative was to go into town and since I had never been in town, I didn't want to take the risk as I'm not sure how safe it was to go alone in the middle of the night in a city I had never been to!!! Plus, my earliest connecting flight was 6 am the next morning, so there really is no point in checking into a hotel with less than 4 hours sleep! Bad luck, I thought. I was on an award ticket, the airline is not going to compensate me due to weather problems. Neither will my travel insurance company! That literally means I've to pay to get into town for a nap in a hotel? Forget it! So, I stayed put at the airport. I was beat then though, after having been on a 10+ hours flight from Asia to San Francisco before that fateful flight. By then, I had been on the air for some 20 hours and then another 6 to 7 hours before the next flight? I was seeing stars when I finally reached Toronto the next day! 

Anyhow, I was in the air a lot in those days and that was one of the worst delays I had. I thought, considering the probabilities it's not too bad as it is. I went on to enjoy my stay in Toronto and flew home without much ado. Well, when I reached Singapore, that was home back then, imagine my surprise! There in the whole pile of mails in my mailbox was a letter from Northwest apologizing for the unpleasant circumstance and .... here it goes ... in lieu of my loyalty to the airline, NWA has decided to compensate! And do you know what compensation that is? It's a return ticket to anywhere in the world! That was how NWA seals the deal! Now, remember, I was on an award ticket! I was not paying for that flight from San Francisco. It has no obligation to compensate since it was due to bad weather to begin with. No insurance policy would compensate you either. But, in this case, NWA compensated me!!! As far as I'm concerned, I would have been a customer for life if it had not been taken over by that dreadful Delta Airlines which lost my parents' baggage in JFK Airport & yet never even compensated them a cent!!!

What can I say other than I'm sorry to hear that the airline is now operating under the umbrella of Delta! They have certainly lost quite a few loyal customers because of that!

In any case, I want to applaud Northwest for taking right step in customer service and relations. It is very refreshing and a lot more effective in retaining customer's loyalty the way it handled the situation than to pay hefty sums to market the airline through huge advertising expense! When it comes to compensating and keeping its customers' loyalties, it is certainly a premier airline which beats Singapore Airlines.At about the same time when Northwest was doing the right thing, Singapore Airlines only gave its passengers telephone cards for calling family when they were delayed for hours at the Changi Airport without a clue as to how long the flight would be delayed to begin with! And it was a flight to New York, for goodness sake! My poor sister! Just a mere telephone card! What a bully!!!]]>
http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/d/UserReview-Northwest_Airlines-141-1380858-20561-The_way_to_a_customer_s_heart.html http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/d/UserReview-Northwest_Airlines-141-1380858-20561-The_way_to_a_customer_s_heart.html Sun, 4 Apr 2010 16:14:55 +0000
<![CDATA[Northwest Airlines Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> http://www.lunch.com/airtravel/reviews/d/UserReview-Northwest_Airlines-129-1380858-55678.html http://www.lunch.com/airtravel/reviews/d/UserReview-Northwest_Airlines-129-1380858-55678.html Fri, 2 Apr 2010 08:11:23 +0000 <![CDATA[Japan Culture Lab - Sushi Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/website/UserReview-Japan_Culture_Lab_Sushi-141-1130956-55579.html http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/website/UserReview-Japan_Culture_Lab_Sushi-141-1130956-55579.html Tue, 30 Mar 2010 15:19:16 +0000 <![CDATA[Akihabara Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/d/UserReview-Akihabara-141-1434642-55575.html http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/d/UserReview-Akihabara-141-1434642-55575.html Tue, 30 Mar 2010 13:41:06 +0000 <![CDATA[Japan Airlines (JAL) Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> http://www.lunch.com/airtravel/reviews/d/UserReview-Japan_Airlines_JAL_-129-1433473-55572.html http://www.lunch.com/airtravel/reviews/d/UserReview-Japan_Airlines_JAL_-129-1433473-55572.html Tue, 30 Mar 2010 12:55:23 +0000 <![CDATA[Hanami Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> http://www.lunch.com/Citylife/reviews/d/UserReview-Hanami-130-1439255-55563.html http://www.lunch.com/Citylife/reviews/d/UserReview-Hanami-130-1439255-55563.html Tue, 30 Mar 2010 04:44:03 +0000 <![CDATA[Green Tea Quick Tip by Count_Orlok_22]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Green_Tea-1334501-55495.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/d/UserReview-Green_Tea-1334501-55495.html Sun, 28 Mar 2010 21:09:50 +0000 <![CDATA[Green Tea Quick Tip by Clay_Miller]]> http://www.lunch.com/HealthyLifestyle/reviews/d/UserReview-Green_Tea-108-1334501-55440.html http://www.lunch.com/HealthyLifestyle/reviews/d/UserReview-Green_Tea-108-1334501-55440.html Fri, 26 Mar 2010 18:45:06 +0000 <![CDATA[ Drinking Green Tea Everyday is Smart For Overall Health]]>
Green tea gets its color from its very short fermentation process of the Camellia sinensis leaves. Green tea is very high in flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants that protect us from free radicals. One of these is EGCG.  These free radicals can damage cells and cause diseases including Diabetes and cancer.  Green tea's unique catechins, especially epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) regulates and inhibits cancer growth and kills cells that are growing inappropriately.

"I believe in green tea based on everything written about it," says Katherine Tallmadge, RD, LD, a nutritionist and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "Green tea, white tea, black tea -- I like all of them."

Some health benefits of green tea:
• Raises metabolism levels
• Strengthens the immune system
• Lowers the risk of developing Diabetes, cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis and heart disease
• Helps regulate blood sugar levels
• Helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels

It is recommended to drink up to 4 cups of green tea a day to get its full benefits.  Most green teas may seem to be a little more bitter than other teas so add a little sweetener if desired.  Green tea sold in stores can be found for the same price as regular tea.

I drink at least one cup of Lipton Decaffeinated Green Tea a day.  Unlike most people I don't add anything, even sugar, to my tea at all.  I like it the way it is.  Here’s to discovering a simple way to be healthier in addition to a good diet and exercise.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/d/UserReview-Green_Tea-141-1334501-20247-Drinking_Green_Tea_Everyday_is_Smart_For_Overall.html http://www.lunch.com/gojapan/reviews/d/UserReview-Green_Tea-141-1334501-20247-Drinking_Green_Tea_Everyday_is_Smart_For_Overall.html Fri, 26 Mar 2010 17:05:59 +0000
<![CDATA[Sushi Quick Tip by michele]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/food/UserReview-Sushi-1115823-55432.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/food/UserReview-Sushi-1115823-55432.html Fri, 26 Mar 2010 16:01:08 +0000 <![CDATA[Sushi Quick Tip by GlutenFreeAli]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/food/UserReview-Sushi-1115823-55030.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/food/UserReview-Sushi-1115823-55030.html Mon, 15 Mar 2010 14:57:04 +0000 <![CDATA[Sushi Quick Tip by harryf]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/food/UserReview-Sushi-1115823-54875.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/food/UserReview-Sushi-1115823-54875.html Fri, 12 Mar 2010 20:56:01 +0000