Kairikiya Kawaramachi Sanjo, Kyoto, Japan

It was the end of my first full day in Japan and after the Shinkansen trip from Tokyo to Kyoto, and having checked into my hotel, I was looking for my first real Japanese meal.

I jumped on the subway and headed one station east to Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Station near the Kamo River.

The area is full of shops and restaurants so I went exploring the laneways to see what food options I could find.

I eventually settled on a ramen shop on the main drag of Kawaramachi Dori.

As would become the norm for my meals over the next 3 weeks, as soon as I sat down I pointed the photo of the long neck of Japanese beer while I pondered what food to order.

Even though it was hot, damn hot, outside, I ordered a robust Ramen that had excellent strong flavors along with a side dish of fried chicken. The ramen itself was on the large side, so this was a very filling meal!

There was a constant flow of people, mostly Japanese but also the occasional foreigner, due to the quality of the ramen on offer.

For the price you cannot fault the meal. The ramen itself was ¥750, the side dish of fried chicken was ¥270 and the long neck of beer ¥500.

Highly recommended!

EzyMart, Queen St, Melbourne, Australia

Today I had the misfortune of walking into an EzyMart store in Melbourne.

So… an EzyMart opened close by a month or so ago…

Tonight I was watching the footy so decided to drop into the new store for some snacks… and that was when I became disgusted.

Walking in there was a single attendant who was more interested in his phone than a customer, but that wasn’t the problem.

Over the PA was playing what can be described as “Gangster Music”… you know “F*** this”, “F*** you”, “F**ing hoes”.. yep, that sort of rubbish. Totally inappropriate for a store if you want a return customer!

There was a family at the door as I was inside who obviously heard the music and decided to walk away.

When I spoke the the attendant he we taken aback that I was complaining about the “F” words that were blaring out.. he even admitted that this was his personal playlist! And he saw no problems with it!

Even more astonishing was the look on this idiots face when he asked “so you’re not buying these items?”… ah… no… I’ll buy my stuff from somewhere that respects their customers!

I’m relatively sure EzyMart is a franchise, but regardless they are responsible for their franchises, do everyone a favour and boycott these idiots so they disappear from the face of the earth!

If EzyMart ISN’T a franchise then there should be a couple of terminations, if not a store closure, by mid morning Monday… if this store IS a franchise I’m guessing they’ll be looking for another franchiser for a store that noone wants to go into!

UPDATE as of 30 September: You can tell the caliber and moral compass of an organisation by how they respond to a complaint.

It’s been just over a week since I unfortunately walked into an EzyMart store on Queen Street in Melbourne and was assaulted by disgusting music blaring over the PA. I raised a complaint both over the phone and via their online complaint form leaving my contact details on both complaints.

I expected a call at some stage during the week, at minimum to get further information, or maybe even an apology. But after 7 days there’s been nothing but silence – zilch, nada, zip.

I think the lack of a response, and the fact that their staff thought it was appropriate to play that type of music in the first that, speaks volumes about this company and their attitude to their customers.

They don’t deserve a cent of your or my money… I can assure them they won’t be getting mine, nor that of the people who I’ve relayed this sorry story to.

InterContinental Tokyo ANA, Tokyo, Japan

A great hotel, great location, a quick walk to Tameike-Sanno Subway Station and a little further away from Akasaka Subway Station.

This was my third stay here and it has never disappointed. Luckily for me I was able to book my 4 nights using my IHG rewards points that I’d accumulated.

This time I didn’t get a “Fuji view” room… but that didn’t concern me as on my previous 2 stays when I did have a “Fuji view” room I never saw Mount Fuji due to the haze. This time I had a south-east view over the nearby Chosenji Temple and a view of Tokyo Tower.

There’s a 7-Eleven and a FamilyMart about 100 metres away so you can get your fill of these magnificent little drinks!

It looks like the neighboring Ark Hills building is undergoing renovations so a number of restaurants have closed.

Excellent, large, clean room. Superb bed and pillows.

To get to Narita Airport I used the Airport Limousine bus service which stops at the hotel with cost and travel time similar to taking the local trains to Ueno or Nippori and then jumping on the Keisei Skyliner.

Ramen Restuarant, Ground Floor, 323 La Trobe St, Melbourne, Australia

Gotta be honest… don’t even bother!

Foodwise, if you’ve been to Japan you WILL be disappointed by the ramen served here!

Secondly – recently the rules around credit charge surcharges were changed in Australia. A lot of businesses were using credit card surcharges to add to their profits, rather than treating the costs as a pass through cost.

What this means is that the old “$1 surcharge under $15” sales is now illegal in Australia as the $1 flat charge does not reflect the cost of doing business.

Unfortunately, this restaurant refuses to adhere to those rules and feels that it can charge a flat fee for some credit charge transactions.

When I advised the counter staff what they were doing was wrong the owner came out and was quite confrontational and irrational. They obviously have no idea of their legal responsibilities.

I’ve reported them to the ACCC for illegal credit card surcharges and hopefully they’re out of business soon – for both reasons! 1) not good food, and 2) not living upto the credit card surcharges rules.

In short, don’t bother!

Hotel Metropolitan Nagano, Nagano, Japan

As the Shinkansen from Kanazawa pulled into Nagano Station I studied my google map to make sure that I headed in the direction of my hotel. I thought I’d kept track of the turns that I’d taken but proceeded to exit the wrong side of the station. It took be a couple of minutes to get my bearings but I soon saw the signs directing me to Hotel Metropolitan Nagano right next to Nagano Station.

As I was to find out the hotel is connected to the station through the shopping mall. So you can get to the hotel from the station without going outside.

Nagano is a small city, so you will have no issues walking from the hotel to many of the tourist sites that you will have on your bucket list and there are many good, cheap restaurants in the area surrounding the hotel.

After the cubby hole I was in in Kanazawa my room was huge, probably 4 times larger that my Kanazawa room. The bathroom was probably the size of the bedroom part of my Kanazawa room!

Check-in and check-out were fast.

The king size bed was comfortable as were the pillows. I did hear some faint noises from the adjoining rooms, but it wasn’t enough to cause any discomfort.

Looking back at the room, location and price, this would be one of the best value hotels I’ve stayed in in many years of travelling.