Remembering 9/11/2001

On that horrid day, I drove my dad’s truck to work, which was at the Guam ITC building. It was right before 12midnight. I had the radio on… and all of a sudden there was a special announcement: One of the Twin Towers in NYC was hit!  I got to the office and they had the t.v. blaring and everyone’s eyes were glued to it.  The first building was on fire and people were jumping out, and later we saw another plane crash into the second building. We couldn’t believe what we saw!

Back then, I was working as a transfer guide for Japan Travel Bureau. I was assigned for arrivals that evening/early morning. As part of the arrival crew, we were responsible for greeting the visitors and taking them to their respective hotels. However, as we got to the airport, we learned that all flights were cancelled worldwide…and weren’t sure when flights will resume. That meant, we had no job for the evening/day.

We headed back to the ITC building and clocked out. It must’ve been 2am by then. A few co-workers and I grabbed a bite to eat at the King’s restaurant in Tamuning. We were discussing the events that just took place and what we were to do. In the corner of the restaurant, we saw the Lt. Governor (back then it was Madeleine Bordallo) and a few other men in a serious conversation. Apparently, during that time, the actual Governor was off-island and she was in command. She had some heavy responsibilities.

After our breakfast and conversation, my co-workers and I parted ways and went home.

I remembered my older brother called from California and he was highly distressed. A plane was also supposed to hit San Francisco, CA. He had only been gone for nine months, but already wanted to come home. My mom and dad didn’t discourage him from doing so…and he came back to Guam. He never left again…

Where were you then and what was it like?

Pocket Wifi

Pocket Wifi has got to be one of those things that you would consider a life-saver.

Previously, I did a blog post on apps that require data and how you could use those apps without being afraid of coming home to a ridiculously expensive cell phone bill.

Interestingly, a country that is known for its cutting-edge technology, wasn’t so wifi friendly. Especially when it came to free wifi at places of businesses. We rented a pocket wifi device at the airport, and this helped us traverse through unknown territory.

A few things you need to remember when renting a pocket wifi:

  • Have a credit card. Although, your debit card has a Visa logo, it doesn’t work as a credit card. The company we rented our pocket wifi’s from required this.
  • There is a mobile wifi router rental agreement that you have to sign, so plan to take a few minutes at the rental booth. We had to run to our train station because we didn’t realize how long the process would be. I would at least plan for 30 minutes – 1 hour. Especially when traveling with a group.
  • Keep your passport handy for they will need it to identify you.
  • Don’t lose anything. They give you a small bag that will house the charger and the pocket wifi.
  • Don’t forget to return at the same kiosk (we rented ours in the arrival terminal of the airport.) My brothers remembered to return their’s since they took the train back to the airport the same way we arrived, however, my husband and I decided to take the limousine bus back to the airport which drops you off directly at the departure terminal. Because of that, we completely forgot to return our pocket wifi until we were near our gate, and had to mail it back. They charge a fee to your card, for not returning it on the date you said you would, but upon receiving the pocket wifi they refunded the fee.

A few things to remember when using the pocket wifi:

  • Don’t upload videos using the pocket wifi because you will drain, not only the battery, but also the ability to keep your speed connection at 4G. I made this mistake and had to deal with 3G for the entire trip..which isn’t so bad, but when you’ve gotten so used to 4G…there’s no going back.
  • If you have a long day planned, keep the charger with you and have a standby battery pack. Unfortunately, with constant use, it goes for eight hours but very hardly anything longer than that. We almost didn’t have a way to find our way back to our hotel at 11:30pm. Thank goodness for taxi cabs.

I hope our experiences with the pocket wifi will help you on your next journey. Happy Travels!

Travel Apps Part 2: Traversing Around Town

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

Alas, here is part two of the travel apps series. Today, I will be sharing with you what apps I’ve used in the past to get around a certain city. Granted, most of these apps require data, so I will be sharing how to access data while traveling abroad, on another blog post. So, let’s get started!

Google Maps (requires data). I loved using this app in our recent travel to Tokyo. We commuted mostly by train and it tells you what line to get on and if there are any transfers. Most of the time, it also gives you the platform number, to help you while you are transferring between two different train lines. Another nice feature is knowing how much to pay. It tells you exactly the cost of getting to your destination.

I have CityMapper (requires data) too, which is a lot like Google Maps, but I didn’t use it as much during this past trip. But, you can definitely download and see which you like better. You might actually like both.

All Subway (no data required). This app helps you look at the Subway Route Maps in the city you are visiting. It has ALOT of cities… but I’m pretty sure not all. It has Manila, Melbourne, Milan, Miami, Copenhagen, Bangkok, etc. So, if your city is on there, it’s a good download before you leave.

Yelp (requires data). Yelp has been around for a long time in the United States, and is recently going Global. I used it a bit in Italy back in 2012, but didn’t find a lot of reviews in certain places. This year, I used it in Tokyo and found a few gems that were recommended by Yelp reviewers! I love to use Yelp to find highly recommended cafe, restaurants, and breweries. It saves me from having to go through a horrible experience!

That’s all I’ve got for you today. Please note though, that these apps are not foolproof. You still may get lost, get off a wrong stop, or have a bad experience at a restaurant. Sometimes, you just can’t help it. However, these apps may help lessen the painful ordeal of a highly stressful situation. A few other tips I can suggest, if you are staying at a hotel, gather suggestions from the front desk staff or concierge (no data required). Ask them:

  • Is this the right route to take to get from point A to point B?
  • What is a good sushi place (pasta place, cafe, etc.) nearby?
  • What are some activities to do around town?

Don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions or for help. Asking for help is half the battle. 😉

Happy Travel Friends!