Friday, May 28, 2010


I leave Hawaii tonight, going to Sydney via Auckland. In Auckland I'll meet up with Priscilla, a good friend and my travel buddy for Australia!

Honolulu's been great - here are some of the highlights:

- Getting lei'd at check in (they're so friendly here! this happens to everyone!!)
- Hiking up diamond head crater
- Running along the beach
- Lying on the beach :)
- Food-wise, the guacamole cheeseburger from Cheeseburger in Paradise (this restaurant is aptly named!) and malasada doughnuts from Leonard's Bakery... I am generally not a doughnut fan but this thing was amazing - warm, moist, doughy, sweet - can you really ask for more?
- The retail experience - while I wasn't planning to do much shopping here (packing space is at a premium) I did do some (since my skin couldn't tolerate full days of sun exposure, plus a girl's gotta look!), and found in store staff to be consistently helpful and happy.

I leave here with a few things I didn't have before - a new pair of shoes (which brings my total to 4), a credit card that will work for the duration of my trip, and a tan (by Aili standards)! :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

emergency replacement credit card

Ok, so I didn't actually lose my credit card. It wasn't compromised or stolen either. I still have it - it's in my wallet right next to the emergency replacement card I just received from MasterCard international. My credit card company told me this was the only way to fix what happened...

My only personal credit card was set to expire this month. When I tried to use it a few weeks ago it didn't work. (That happened on my moving day - when I was trying to buy lunch to thank my family who had just helped me move - what timing!) I assumed it was because the card had expired at the beginning of the month, and called customer service to make sure the new card was in the mail so that I'd get it before I left. They assured me the new card was in the mail, and informed me that the card I had was valid until the end of the month - the reason it wasn't working was because their security department cancelled it after a sketchy non-transaction... When I was in LA for a few days last month, I'd tried to use it at a gas station. When the pump requested I enter a zip code, I tried "00000" and "90210" - both of which have worked for me before - but neither worked this time, so I just ended up paying cash. I didn't think much of it, but apparently that's enough to set off security warnings to temporarily cancel your card. After explaining what happened to security, they re-activated my card.

That first phone call happened about 2 weeks before my departure. When I still hadn't gotten the card a week later, I called again and explained that I was going to be away, so it was important that I receive the new card while I was still in Toronto. I was again informed that it was in the mail, and that I should be getting it any day now. A few more days passed, and I was getting antsy. I called again: "We sent it out on May 7th. Maybe Canada Post misplaced it? You should get it by the end of the week." The end of the week came but the card did not. It was now Friday, and I was scheduled to leave on Sunday.

I called. Sheri answered. I told her I hadn't received my new card yet, even though I'd been told several times it was in the mail. She put me on hold to investigate. When she came back, she informed me that - strangely enough - their records showed that they had never sent it out! But she had no idea why... I told her that security had put a hold on my card a few weeks earlier and asked if that may have affected anything. She said it was likely the cause. I asked her if she could send me a new card in Hawaii. She said she couldn't so I thanked her for her help and asked to speak to a supervisor. I wanted to share my experience so that they could improve their operations, and see if perhaps this person could help me.

Mathieu got on the line. Sheri had informed him about my situation - the history on what had happened plus the fact that I was going to be travelling for the new few months. I told him I was extremely disappointed in their customer service. My issue wasn't the fact that they had never mailed out my new card - it was that I had been misinformed on 3 separate phone calls that it was in the mail. If they had identified this problem on my first call, it would have been solved while I was in Toronto. My preliminary root cause analysis suggested that there was definitely a training component to this issue, and possibly a system/process improvement opportunity as well. Mathieu thanked me for my feedback and told me he was going to fix this for me. I gave him a few options that would work for me (send me the card in Hawaii; send it to my parents for the next business day, so that they'd have time to ship it to me in Hawaii; or tell me where I could pick one up that same day). He told me he wasn't able to accommodate any of those options, and instead he was going to provide me with the contact info for the folks at international so that I could call them to get an emergency replacement card once I was out of the country.

So the other day I spent about an hour on the phone trying to get this sorted out. It wasn't quite like the commercial - they didn't come find me on the beach - but I was able to pick up the package with my new card from the hotel concierge the next day. Now at least I have a card that I can use to book stuff on my trip as I go along (since you can't really use cash when making reservations on the internet!). And I have one more item I can cross of my to-do list, which is always exciting :)

In Hawaii news, I spent most of today at the beach, lying on the sand listening to the waves come in... very therapeutic!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

my first stop

I arrived in Honolulu yesterday afternoon after spending about 16 hours in transit. (It's a much farther trip from Toronto than from the west coast!) The combination of being up late to finish packing and having to get up early to catch my flight resulted in me sleeping through my alarm!.. but luckily my parents were driving me to the airport so my dad woke me up. Thanks isa!

I hadn't even thought about stopping over in Hawaii en route until someone else suggested it - as it's often a layover point for flights to Australia and I have the time to take advantage of it. My aeroplan ticket allowed me two stopovers so I included a couple days here on the way down because 1) it's Hawaii - I love it (who doesn't?) - and 2) it's about halfway between Toronto and Australia so I figured it'd be a good way to break up the trip and hopefully minimize jetlag. All things considered, it seemed like a great idea. But yesterday when I got in, I actually felt guilty about being here... as if it was selfish of me to take this time for myself and use up some hotel points on just me... even knowing how chaotic my last couple months have been - with all the staging and sorting and moving and everything. I'm happy to say that 24 hours later I'm feeling much more relaxed and thankful that I decided to do this, because it's important to take time for yourself. Clearly I needed a vacation! And some sleep - which I got plenty of last night... :)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

the journey begins

Hi there. This is Aili. Welcome to my world!

A few months ago I decided I needed a change. Or several :) So I embraced my curls, decided to sell my condo and requested a leave of absence from my job so that I could spend some time travelling. The last couple of months have been busy getting all of that sorted out, but I'm happy to report that everything has worked out and I'm just about ready to leave! I'm finishing up packing right now and good thing - my flight leaves in about 7 hours. I'll be spending the next 6 months in Australia with a few days in the US in transit.

Goodbye Canada, see you in December!