Tag Archives: travel

Você pode ajudar os Dead Kennedys? : Can you help the Dead Kennedys?

 

This is a message from West Coast punk legends The Dead Kennedys. TAM lost their guitar cases in Brazil so I’ve got the message here in English and Portuguese to see if anyone has any information…

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On Saturday April 20, Klaus Flouride and East Bay Ray’s guitar cases were lost by TAM Airlines in Brazil on their flight from Sao Paulo to Recife. We would like to ask anyone in Brazil that might work at TAM Airlines or know someone who does to help us find the two guitar cases. One is a SKB bass case and the other is a Gator double guitar case. Here is a photo of them. If you have any information, please message us here. Thank you.

No sábado 20 de abril, os cases de guitarra de Klaus Flouride e East Bay Ray foram perdidos pela TAM quando os músicos viajavam de São Paulo para Recife. Gostaríamos de pedir a alguém no Brasil que trabalhe na TAM, ou conheça alguém que trabalhe lá, que nos ajude a encontrar os dois cases. Um deles é um baixo SKB e o outro é um case de guitarra dupla Gator. Aqui está uma foto dos dois. Se você tiver qualquer informação, por favor mande uma mensagem para nós aqui. Obrigado.

Dead Kennedys

 

Photo by The Dead Kennedys

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Do you trust online vacation rental sites like HomeAway.com?

I’m going to New York next month. As there are three of us travelling and we are staying in town for four nights I thought I would book an apartment, rather than two hotel rooms.

I checked out homeaway.com because I met their UK sales director a while ago and I remember thinking that I should try their service sometime.

They have hundreds of great places all over the world and I was spoiled for choice looking at the map of Manhattan – eventually deciding on a 2-bed apartment on 50th street. I sent my details to the owner and he confirmed that it was available on the dates I needed.

He sent me an invoice via PayPal and I paid it immediately – $1370 – not a small amount, but certainly cheaper than 2 decent hotel rooms in midtown Manhattan for 4 nights.

After paying, I immediately emailed the property owner to ask for the exact address, what time I could arrive and all that basic check-in stuff. He never responded. Five days later I tried calling. The number was a dud.

So I emailed again, but I started worrying. What if this guy has just stiffed me for over a thousand dollars? I still need to book a place to stay in New York whatever happens with this guy!

So I filed a complaint with HomeAway. Typically their customer service team promised to get back to me “in a few days”… is that acceptable from any customer service team today? I’m in the hole for over a grand and I just have to sit tight and wait.

Fortunately, PayPal were very helpful and have reassured me that even if this guy has stolen from me, they will underwrite the loss. In short, they have a dispute resolution centre where I can contact the person I sent money to. Usually they would allow a week to see if the person responds. After that week, PayPal would get directly involved in the chase and if another 10 days passes with no resolution then PayPal will reverse the transaction.

That still feels like a long time to wait, given the amount and given that in a couple of weeks I need a place to stay. PayPal agreed and said that because of the amount involved, they would waive the usual 7 day wait and they will get immediately involved in chasing the funds.

So I’m shell-shocked because of the experience. This was my great welcome to HomeAway.com… the best I can hope for is that I have a property owner who forgets to reply to email and doesn’t have a working phone – it was all a misunderstanding. The worst is that my money has gone, but will be refunded in 10 days.

And if I know this will be resolved one way or the other in 10 days that still gives me about a week to find a place to stay in New York – but you can bet it won’t be on HomeAway this time, or any time in future.

Manhattan Panorama

Email: The time bandit

I was on the road travelling and working for the past two weeks. Sometimes sleeping on planes and working from airports, sometimes at conferences – I did five events in those two weeks involving four talks and one where I was doing the official social media coverage.

During this time, my email stacked up. If you have been waiting for me to reply to something then I apologise. Today was my first proper day in front of my desk for a couple of weeks and I have nearly 500 messages in my inbox today and about 350 of those are unread.

I probably get the same amount of email as most professionals. A few important mails, a few that can wait, and a lot of junk… whether it’s actual spam or just notifications about this or that on ebay or the social networks.

But email takes time. Each mail has to be read, even just to decide whether to delete or file it. I now hate it when companies email me press releases when they could be using a social network such as Twitter – I can see far more quickly on Twitter whether something is worth pursuing or not.

At least I don’t organise my time by email. I know of many people whose working day is dictated by what arrives in the inbox… I usually have a to-do list that has nothing to do with the arriving email.

But everywhere I have been travelling on my journey has had connectivity, so in theory I could have been checking my mails in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. But the reality is that when travelling on business, your time is packed with more important things than sitting in front of a list of emails. The day, from breakfast to dinner is usually packed with meetings or talks or other work.

But if this prioritisation of time is how I behave when travelling, then the obvious question has to be, why do I suddenly have time to deal with the deluge of email when I get back to the office or my home?

If my time is too valuable when on the road, then surely it is even more valuable when I am working hard on the things that I get paid for.

So here is a new resolution for 2012. I’m going to spend a short amount of time, maybe 15-20 minutes at the start and end of each working day, checking for important email. Anything else I don’t have time for is just going to get binned.

Will I lose anything valuable? Will I miss something vital? Or will I just reclaim wasted time and start resetting my priorities back to spending more time on what I actually get paid for?Bizarro-email-hell

Welcome to Bangladesh

It’s been a long weekend. I travelled from São Paulo to London on Friday, landing on Saturday. Then I went straight up to Leicester, spending a day in the Midlands before heading back to London on Sunday. Instead of staying in central London I headed off to the wilds of Hendon and Harrow to see mates like Ronan and Enda… worth it, but tiring as I was on a plane to Dhaka in Bangladesh the next morning, via a really rushed connection in Dubai.

I haven’t had jetlag for a long time, perhaps because I am doing a lot of north-south flying these days, but it’s hitting me quite hard today – I’m writing this wide awake at 4am and paying the price for flying East.

Arriving in Dhaka was certainly an experience. Passport control takes ages. Each passport is subject to checks that drag on for several minutes. Now add an entire plane-load of hundreds of passengers and even the locals were complaining about how long it was taking.

I needed to get a visa on arrival, so I joined the visa queue – even slower than a regular passport check. Once I got to the front of the queue they told me that I should have gone to the bank to pay first… no sign or official had told me.

I went to an ATM, withdrew cash, went to the bank, deposited the money – for some reason the bank would not just take the debit card, I had to get cash.

Then, I returned with my receipt and they stamped my passport. The visa official said that I needed to come into his office to check on something in my passport. I went to the office, he asked me for 100 Taka for his help in giving me a visa. That’s only something like $1.30 – he was not asking for a big reward and it’s hard to even call it a bribe as he asked for the money after stamping my passport.

But it’s not the best welcome, having airport officials asking for tips because they did their job. I’d better tip the captain the next time my plane lands safely if this is the precedent being established.

Then the journey into town started. The traffic was horrendous. It took around 2 hours to get from the airport to my hotel. Not because it is a long distance – like in Tokyo – it would have been faster to just walk.

In the end, from landing to getting a glass of water at my hotel took over 4 hours – not much fun. But complaints aside, the hotel is nice, the food has been good, and I’ve met some really interesting people on my first day in town.

World Class Traffic Jam

भारत में आपका स्वागत है

I finally arrived in India. It feels comfortable and familiar each time I arrive here. I have now been here so often that the routine at the airport and on arrival at the hotel all feel quite welcoming.

I was interested to see that the road immediately outside the international airport here is getting an upper level – there is a huge flyover being constructed that will presumably create a bypass for those cars just going past the airport. There is a very nice Hyatt hotel just outside the international airport and now this flyover is being constructed right in front of their windows – a shame for the guests there as someone up on the sixth floor will just have a view of cars now.

I’m staying in Bandra this time and there is a lot of new construction going on here too – more than I have seen in this part of Mumbai for a couple of years.

I’m surprised really that I feel quite OK today. It’s now Monday and I left São Paulo on Saturday afternoon, so my journey was around 30 hours long. I had a lot of trouble initially because BA was delayed. I was supposed to connect in London and they told me I could not make the connection to India, so they eventually rebooked me onto a Lufthansa flight.

Incredibly Lufthansa managed to find me some good seats (I always try reserving emergency exits or at least an aisle seat when on economy seats – this trip doesn’t have the budget available for business class) and vegetarian food. The crew at the airport and on the plane were really helpful – with one of the cabin crew really taking some time on board to talk about India with me and help to confirm my onward connection at Munich.

Unfortunately a bottle of cachaça that I had stowed in my luggage got broken, so a lot of my clothes ended up smelling of distilled sugar cane. It’s a good thing that laundry doesn’t cost too much in India…
Dharavi slum in Mumbai, India