Saturday, July 1, 2017

Popular Scams


It's unlikely that scams are ever going to disappear so it's important to be aware of possible scams and to be suspicious of unusual things.

Visit the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker to see different areas and time periods. I'll be sharing common scams around Alberta this last year.

280+ scams were reported to BBB. Because these don't include any scams just reported to police, or ones that people didn't report period the "actual" number of people involved in a scam is actually much higher. Now, being involved in a scam doesn't necessarily mean that any money was lost. Some people recolonize the scam before anything or sometimes people are harassed but they don't fold.

Depending on the scam you may get your money back from your bank or credit card but not always. Even if you do get your money back there may be a delay in the refund and you might need that money. It's also possible that your name and info could be tarnished- "you" committed a crime, "you" ran up a credit card bill and refused to pay. Clearing your name can be challenging and time consuming.

Calling an Unknown Number

Not a BBB scam but important general knowledge. If you see a strange number on your phone or get a weird voice mail, don't call the number back. It may be a pay-per-call number that will charge you or someone's personal number could have been spoofed and the actual owners have no way of knowing what's going on.

It's also possible that there's more than one scammer working the phone so when you call the number they gave you for the credit card company a second person will pick up and say that they're legit and someone has been trying to contact you. Use contact numbers you all ready have or have easy access to.

Tips for Visiting Japan

While I'm in no way an expert I thought I would share some tips and tricks from what worked for me.. Do you have any suggestions?

General Knowledge

  • Look up places/attractions you'll visit and others in the area so you kinda know what's going on
  • Have an emergency plan to get home- like seeing if any train stations are near by your locations and how to get there.
  • Don't trust that your internet and/or Google maps will work. Take notes, pictures, or screenshots of important info or routes.
  • Be flexible: life (and shit) happens.
  • Universal Studios: use the single rider line when possible, it can really knock down your wait times.
  • Many places and (Tokyo) JR train stations will have stamps to collect. There's often paper on hand but I had backups just in case.
  • Be brave and try new foods... like pizza with ham and corn that looked like Hawaiian pizza.
  • Y300 seems to be a typical "snack" price like cookies and mochi
  • Many bathrooms won't have towels to dry your hands so carry hand sanitizer or hand towels (that are for sale everywhere. It took me forever to figure out why they were everywhere...)
  • No tips/gratuities are required at restaurants.
  • Good stores: Daiso (dollar store), Don Quijote (everything and more store), Book Off! (used books with an English section)
  • Get a metro card (IC card) so you don't have to figure out fares on the transit; instead you just tap and go. Pasmo and Suica are big names. You can also use them at some stores and vending machines,
  • Tokyo trains will have screens above their doors you can watch to say the station name in English and also how far away the next stops are.
  • Train signs will have English on them though you make have to wait for them to change from Japanese.
  • Use Google map between locations you want to visit, it may not be as far away to walk as you'd think.

Disney-related Tips

  • Know that even on slow days it's probably going to be busier than the American parks
  • Choose your "must dos" and try to do those first
  • Grab the English and Japanese maps and Today sheets.
    • Use the Japanese map to point and ask for directions if needed.
  • Use the TDR Wait Time Check app for wait times, restaurant menus, play plots and more.
  • Bring a water bottle to fill at the park. They have bottle-sized fountains near the restaurants.
  • Bringing food: you're not supposed to but I saw people that had clearly brought in food. They don't do an in-depth bag check so I guess it's up to you.
  • Even if you won't entirely understand the plays they're worth it
  • Plan for rough weather
  • You can walk from the Maihama station to either of the parks but DisneySea is a bit further away than Disneyland so you may want to take the monorail.
    • Plus, the monorail has Mickey-shaped windows and hand-holds!
  • Eat at "off" lunch times to avoid some of the crowds.

Japanese Language

  • Excuse me- sounds like sue-me-ma-sen
    • Use this to get through crowds or to get someone attention to ask them a question.
  • Yes- sounds like hi
  • No- sounds like ee-ay
  • Thank you- sounds like arr-ee-gat-oo
  • Hello- sounds like kon-ee-chee-wah

See my individual posts about my April 2017 trip here:

Helpful Websites

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Japan: Part 5: Tokyo Disney Resort

Monday April 17th

Our first day of Disney!

Japan: Part 4: Tokyo & Yokohama

Saturday April 15th

Today we went to see the Imperial Palace Gardens. While they're right next to the Imperial Palace where the royal family lives there's only a small sliver that you're able to see of the actual living quarters but the gardens are amazing.

We have to go from Shibuya to Tokyo station and our friend had warned us that Tokyo Station was mass of an easy to get lost in. We arrived, thankfully, at the North End of the station which is exactly the direction we wanted to be in it was an easy walk to get to the garden. We had bought an IC metro card so we didn't have to figure out how much fares cost as it was automatically deducted.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Disneyland Rides for Non-Adventurous

A friend was saying that she wasn't sure if her family would like Disney because they don't handle rides well. I told here there's so many different kinds of rides and more attractions beyond "just rides" that they could enjoy.

If you can ride in a car (or even handle most of your local small town fair rides) but shiver at the thought of roller coasters, these are the rides for you! Personally, I can't do many spinny or 3D rides in a row without feeling sick but I can do many rollercoasters.

(I believe I've missed some rides as I don't remember them well. The Disney websites let you sort rides further my preferance, such as by "dark ride" too.)

What are you suggestions for non-adventurous people?


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Japan: Part 3: Tokyo

Thurs April 13

Goodbye, Kyoto! Hello, Tokyo!

We were a little leary of using Tokyo's transit with our bags but we made it if no problems. We stayed near Shibuya Station and it was a great area! The only real downside was that the elevator was broken so we had to haul our stuff (and later ourselves many times ha ha) up to the fourth floor. We started laundry and went grocery shopping which was on the next block.

We were meeting a friend the next day and I was worried about time so we went to Harajuku Station to see Meiji Jingu Shrine. Unfortunately it was undergoing construction for it's upcoming anniversary but the walk was really cool. The trees were massive and the lanterns were great.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Japan: Part 2: Kyoto & Nara

Part 1

Tues April 11

It rained all day. Never once did it let up. I bought an umbrella from the convenience store, too bad it wasn't collapsible.

We'd planned to see Nijo Castle first but we weren't paying attention to our stops and missed it so we just carried on to the Arashiyama bamboo grove. It was very pretty but you had to be careful on the path because you might lose an eye to umbrellas and there was the odd car driving on what I had thought was a walking path.