Expidition Travel

Staying Safe Around Coral 0

When a person is swimming around coral reefs they may appreciate the beauty. Coral reefs can be very dangerous to swim around and proper precautions must be taken to stay safe when around coral in the ocean.

When a person is swimming, scuba diving, or snorkeling they should never be alone. If something were to happen including getting cut by the coral it is wise to have someone with them. This way a person can assist or they can get help if needed.

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A first aid kit should be brought alone when people plan on going in the water. Even when a person tries to watch out and to stay safe accidents including cuts can happen. If someone does get cut by a piece or coral a person should make sure that nothing is stuck in the skin. After this hydrogen peroxide should be applied to the skin to clean the skin. A waterproof bandage may be needed in order to cover the area.

Before heading into the water a person need to be sure to check both the wind and the surf conditions. While reefs and areas around coral are usually safe there are some things that can have an effect on safety conditions. A day with high winds can push a person into the reefs. Strong surf can also push a person around and into the coral. Be sure to head out when the weather and the water conditions are calm.

Be sure to cover exposed skin. There are dive suits and other water gear that can protect the body if a person rubs up against coral. This protective gear can also help a person stay safe from the rays of the sun.

These are some things that a person can do to stay safe around coral. Following these precautions can allow a person to have fun while keeping safety in mind.

Additional reading and learning may be found at: http://snorkelstore.net/snorkel-first-aid-how-to-treat-coral-cuts/

Environmentally-Friendly Road Trip 0

After celebrating Earth Day on April 22, I was thinking about many other aspects of my life in which I could treat as if every day was Earth Day and how I could do my part to sustain our environment and lessen my carbon footprint. I promised myself I would recycle more, buy energy efficient appliances, and find ways to keep my car as eco-friendly as I could. I cannot afford to run out and by a new hybrid vehicle, but I can afford to try and use less gasoline, monitor my emissions, and find an auto repair shop which recycles and uses eco-friendly fluids. I started with partnering with Good Works Auto Repair because they are an environmentally-responsible auto repair shop and they gave me great advice on how I could still drive my car but be conscious about the world around me.

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There are several things we can do to make our road trips this summer eco-friendly. I had too many road trips planned with my family to cancel these memorable experiences. Some of the ways to create an eco-friendly, yet still memorable road trip include:

Driving Responsibly – Slamming the brakes and speeding are certainly not necessary means of driving while on vacation – or ever. Aggressive driving wastes gas and is just plain dangerous.

Obeying the Speed Limit – Speed and fuel efficiency are related and auto experts all agree that in order to keep the gas usage down, you must keep the speed down too. This, too, can decrease your carbon footprint which is a big plus for my family.

Planning the Trip Ahead of Time – Whether you use a map or a GPS, finding the shortest, most direct routes to your destination can save on gas and on emissions.

Routinely Maintaining the Vehicle – When your vehicle isn’t in good shape, it uses extra gas and your emissions could be higher than normal. Maintaining oil and tire pressure will also positively impact fuel mileage for your trip.

Packing Smart – Pack less luggage and carry less weight if possible. Also, don’t take more than one vehicle if you don’t have to. Fill the vehicle with passengers, not bags.

Avoiding Several Restaurant Stops – Instead of making several stops to fast-food chains along the way, prepare picnic food and stop at some of the many rest areas along the highways throughout the country. Make it part of the adventure!

This summer, before you hit the road, visit Good Works Auto Repair, your local eco-friendly auto repair shop. Hitting the road without safety checks and preventative maintenance is a dangerous idea for your family and your vehicle. It is always a good idea to have them check vital fluids, brakes, belts, battery, tires, get an oil change and any other routine maintenance services your vehicle could benefit from. Have an enjoyable summer that feels like Earth Day… every day. Eco-friendly road trips are possible with a little planning and some preventative vehicle maintenance services

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A day out in Asakusa 0

Asakusa is my favourite part of Tokyo. The district is in the north-eastern section of the city. It was also heavily bombed during world war 2. But, before the war, it was one of the major entertainment districts in Tokyo. It is a little bit touristy with the main temple but it’s also got many cool little bars and restaurants. The soba noodle shop here is one of the best I have been to in Japan, especially after a few beers. I equate soba noodles in Japan to kebabs in Australia after a night on the town.

The temple itself is the oldest in Tokyo. It was built in 645. It was heavily damaged during ww2 though but was completely rebuilt afterwards. Located on the main road is a large gate called the Kaminarimon. In between the gate and the temple is Asakusa Nakamise shopping street. The area was super packed the day we went which was a little bit annoying but you get that at any big tourist place.

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As we got to the end of the market street, we were approached by a tv crew who wanted to film us. They wanted to know what we thought of Japanese “clamshell” phones and what sought of phones we had in Australia. After asking about this, they wanted them to do some origami. Anne managed to pull off one of those kids fold up ones where you write the numbers inside it. Was pretty impressive and they seemed to really like that.

Inside the temple, we all donated some money and prayed. I’m not really in to all that spiritual stuff but hey, it can’t hurt, right?

Outside of the temple though they had more ways to help your spirit. One of the ways was to guide smoke on to the areas of your body that needs healing. I put some on my hair and lots of my belly. I don’t think it’s working as I think I am still putting on weight from all the drinking!

Fukuoka and Kumamoto – A home away from home 0

Fukuoka is a beautiful city. It’s also super chilled out. In my opinion, it’s the city in Japan that I relate most to Melbourne. The plus side to Fukuoka is that the weather is much nicer than Melbourne.  I have often said that if I was to live anywhere in Japan, it would be here.

Louise and I decided that since we really only had 1 full day in Fukuoka, and that I had already seen most of the town, that we would take a day trip to a nearby city called Kumamoto. Kumamoto is famous for it’s castle and was the home of Saigō Takamori and where he made his last stand. He was the one from the previous photos from Ueno.

One of the awesome things about Japan are the trains. It is super easy to get around the country, and excellent value if you get a Japan Rail pass. You can just jump on a shinkansen and be 100km away in 30 mins and you will arrive on time. We took the shinkansen to Kumamoto and then it was only a short tram ride to the castle.

The castle was pretty amazing. The main tower had been rebuilt due to being burnt down in the late 1800’s due to fire from the war. The side tower though was original and was in fantastic condition. It was really difficult to move around between levels in there because the stairs were so steep. I also really liked it, while it seems corny, that they had people dressed in period costumes like samurai and guards. They were really friendly and would come and ask if you wanted photos with them (which were free unlike most other tourist places) and just made the experience a whole lot better.

They had a side palace that was the home to the local Lord too. It had just recently been reconstructed from the 1877 fires. They had really done a good job on it actually. According to our awesome guide we had, who strangely kept comparing me to her English son-in-law, the walls were not repainted in the original style as they could not accurately remake them as they had no photographs. Everything else was reconstructed as it had been before the fire.

Hiroshima and Miyajima – An unexpected surprise 0

My 3rd visit to Hiroshima started off really well. We arrived on a Friday night and as we get in to the city, we see lots of carnival style tents lining the roads. It turns out we had timed it perfectly and arrived right in the middle of the the Tokasan festival (aka Yakata festival), Jason and I took the hotel’s bikes out and went for a ride to check out the festival while the girls all went to the peace memorial museum. While out and about, we stopped and bought some delicious takoyaki, which are octopus balls. They weren’t the best ones I have had but they were certainly delicious.
One of the nights we were there, we went out of some okonimoyaki. Okonimoyaki is basically lettuce, bean shoots, spring onion, egg and a couple of other things mixed in to the shape of a pancake. There are 2 styles of okonimoyaki in Japan. One is the Osaka style, or traditional style which most of the country would have. The other is Hiroshima style, which obviously is a specialty of Hiroshima. My personal preference is Hiroshima style as they have noodles under the “pancake”.

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We were recommended a place nearby the hotel by the fantastic staff at the front desk (Super Hotel Hiroshima) and went to check it out. When we got there it was packed and we couldn’t get a seat. They said they’d call us but we thought there was no hope of getting a table so we set off to find somewhere else.  Luckily, after wondering aimlessly for 20 mins or so and nobody being able to decide on a place to eat, they phone Jason and said there’s 1 table free.  Let me just say that it was definitely worth the wait! The service there was excellent and the food just kept coming and coming. Every dish we ordered was delicious. If I’m ever back in H-town, then I will be hitting up that place again.
The night stopped there for everyone but Jason, Louise and I. We decided it would be a fun idea to go bowling. Who goes bowling randomly? We do. The first game I was getting smashed. I didn’t bowl a strike and I think Jason may have won that one. I reckon I wasn’t even half his score! I managed to come back and win the second 2 games, much to Louise’s dismay.
That was not the end of the night for Jason and I though. We went for a walk to find a bar to have a couple more drinks and ended up stumbling across this tiny bar that seated about 8 people. The owner was a 34yo bachelor who had opened the restaurant only 3 years prior.  His specialty, as we were to soon find out, was braised food that you cook on the table in front of you in a clay brazier. He actually turned out to be super cool and even invited his friend, an elementary school teacher who could speak English, to come and join us later on. Definitely one of the better experiences I’ve had in Japan!
The next day Louise, Anne and myself took a day trip to Miyajima, which is where the famous torii gate is located out in the water. It is one of the iconic symbols of Japan, however, I had actually never realised that it is was just outside Hiroshima.
Getting to Miyajima is a bit of a journey but I will say it’s highly worth it.  We also saved a lot of money as we had the Japan rail pass too. This entitles you to the free train ride (approx. 30 mins from Hiroshima station) and also a free ride on the JR ferry which goes across the inland sea.
On the island of Miyajima, there is also a beautiful temple that is set out on the water. I have included photos of it below. There is also a cable car that, due to my fear of heights, was not a very pleasant ride up. Just when you think you are at the top, you have to transfer to a second car that basically goes across what I called “death valley”.
Anne did not join us for the cable car ride so after arriving at the top, Louise and I decided to take the hike up to the top of the mountain. It was only 1.1km but you had to go down 100m then up 300m in height. It doesn’t seem like a lot on paper but it was ridiculously hot and took us about 2 hours round trip. I was wearing sneakers yet there were Japanese men in suits and women in heels. I don’t know how they did it!

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Problems During Your Cruise – Are You Entitled To Compensation? 0

Cruising is indeed a very enjoyable vacation experience, but it’s certainly not without its occasional problems and mishaps.  Despite your highest hopes or the best intentions of the cruise line and its staff, something might actually go wrong during your cruise.

It could be one of several scenarios:

  • Your luggage somehow gets lost (or dropped in the ocean during embarkation)
  • You contract the Norovirus onboard, then subsequently confined to your stateroom
  • An itinerary change occurs
  • You don’t like the food served in any of the dining venues onboard
  • You experience problems with your stateroom (plumbing issues, broken furniture, odor, noise)

You’ve spent hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on this vacation, and expected a problem-free good time.  This issue has you disappointed (and possibly a little pissed off.)  The problems you experienced may have ruined your entire vacation, and now you feel the cruise line should pay.  At this point you may be asking, “I‘m entitled to some compensation for my trouble, right?”

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The honest answer is:  Maybe.  Then again, maybe not.

Whether or not a guest should receive compensation is determined by a number of factors, and even that can vary depending on the cruise line.  Of course, there are several instances where compensation is warranted.  Here are some examples:

  • Stateroom issues.  Problems with plumbing, electricity, cleanliness, and general operation are usually granted compensation immediately (depending on company policy).  The type and amount is usually determined in part by the severity and the number of days the problem occurred.
  • Quarantine due to Norovirus. If a guest contracts the Norovirus during the cruise, he or she is quarantined and confined to the stateroom for a period of time.  Many cruise lines offer compensation to the guest based on the number of days he or she was confined to the stateroom.  (Keep in mind, this compensation may not apply to anyone who opted to stay with the ill guest but were not subject to the quarantine.)
  • Missed days of cruise due to delayed/cancelled flights (applies to Air/Sea guests.)  There are some instances when the cruise line compensates guests that missed a portion of their cruise due to a delayed or cancelled flight, provided the air arrangements were made through the cruise line.  The compensation amount can vary depending on the itinerary, length of cruise, and number of days missed.
  • Cancelled sailings. If the cruise line has to cancel an entire sailing (due to circumstances that are normally considered “under its control”, like ship mechanical issues), oftentimes it offers additional compensation on top of the full refund of the cruise fare it issues its guests.  Because of the negative impact a cancelled cruise can cause, the cruise line aims to retain these guests and entice them to rebook for a future sailing versus the guest booking with another cruise line.
  • Poor service.  If you were subjected to issues like inedible food, an impolite (or downright rude) staff member, excessive noise in your stateroom, or other related issues, this is definitely a qualified complaint.  A service failure committed by the cruise line is a failure of the company’s promise to you as the consumer.

Complaints that are subjective in nature generally don’t qualify for compensation.  So, if you thought the décor was gaudy, hated a particular port of call for personal reasons, or you didn’t care for the food served in the main dining room, it’s pretty safe to say you won’t be granted compensation.

Here are a few other instances that may not qualify for compensation from the cruise line:

  • Pricing/product issues with third-party vendors.  If you were dissatisfied with your spa treatment or feel you were overcharged for a painting you purchased onboard, you’ll be referred to the vendor for resolution.  The vendor will determine if compensation is warranted and will issue it if it’s granted.
  • Itinerary changes.  For cruisers, at least 50% of the reason they take a cruise is for the itinerary.  However, because an itinerary change may become required at any given moment (at times against the will of the cruise line), itineraries can’t be guaranteed.  This is detailed in the cruise ticket contact, thus releasing the cruise line from liability.  They may offer compensation in an extreme case (a natural disaster, for example) but aren’t required to do so.
  • Not reporting a problem while onboard. You may have had water leaking from the bathroom in your stateroom or had a broken air conditioner the entire trip.  Generally, those issues are eligible for compensation.  But for some cruise lines, that’s only if you reported the problem while onboard the ship.  In these cases lines, waiting until after the cruise is over to lodge your complaint is considered a forfeiture of compensation – even if you were entitled to it because of the issue.  Some lines will check the Purser/Guest Relations log for the sailing in question to verify if you reported it before responding to your complaint.
  • Being denied boarding.  If the denial was warranted, not only will you not be given compensation for missing the cruise, you most likely won’t get a refund either.  If you were denied boarding due to negligence on your part (wrong documents, no visa, illegal substances, etc.), you’re out of luck, as well as the money you paid for the cruise.

It’s important to remember is that compensation provided to a guest for a bad experience is generally handled on a case by case basis most times.  This is not an exhaustive list, but a highlight of some of the more common occurrences.  Thousands of guests have sailed multiple times without ever having an issue.   Hopefully you’ll have the same experience.  If you’re not as fortunate, though, now you have a better idea of what to do, and what to expect.

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