Tokyo vs Sydney

Tokyo was one of my other choices to move to. It got ruled out naturally with the 3/11 earthquake, but it's good to check if I had made the right choice between Tokyo and Sydney were the earthquake didn't happen.

The Tokyo office of my company is located in the Mori Tower in the Roppongi Hills complex. Since there was a tropical storm (Aere) during my visit there last week, I booked Grand Hyatt that was in the same complex to avoid getting wet. The rooms are big, new, and modern (but expensive!), and it takes just 3 minutes to walk to the office within the complex.

View out of Tokyo office
in Roppongi Hills
I am always impressed by how clean and organized Japan is, even in the world's largest metro, Tokyo (with a mind-blowing 35+ million population). You can easily tell the difference of how clean/organized it is by strolling around or looking out of the window (e.g., compared to the view at Taipei 101 where I currently work in). And Japanese people are always very polite, hard-working, and civilized. Although language is a barrier (most Japanese has relatively poor English), I would probably still prefer Tokyo over Taipei.

It's clear I favor Sydney over Tokyo however after I've visited both. Language is not the biggest issue since learning Japanese may just take months, but there are many other considerations. Timezone definitely matters as the extra 1~2 hours overlap with the U.S. is important -- video conference and other communication technologies may vastly improve within 10 years but the timezone issue will not. I prefer Sydney's environment more as it feels very natural. Also, Tokyo is already so packed I don't want to contribute more -- let's spread out more evenly on Earth? ;)


Telephone numbers in Australia

Here are some of the important information on telephone numbers in Australia vs Taiwan:
Country code61886
Main international prefix0011002
Mobile prefix0409
Capital area code02 (NSW, ACT)02 (Taipei)

It's interesting to note that the telephone numbers around the capital areas for both countries look very similar -- both are of the form 02-1234-5678.

It was also surprising to learn the international dialing access prefix (0011) is so close to the emergency number (000) -- wouldn't this cause some people (such as international visitors) to dial emergency accidentally? ^^||


Airline selection when living in Sydney

Most airlines have frequent flyer programs to encourage customers to choose their airline, offering incentives like lounge access, higher mileage accumulation (which can be used for upgrades or free tickets), check-in and luggage priority, reservation priority, etc. It's thus beneficial to stick to an airline where possible.

My previous airline of choice was Eva Air (based in Taiwan), and I have achieved Gold card status (just after Diamond) where I have enjoyed the airline's quality lounge and priority check-in/luggage services. Unfortunately, the airline does not fly to Sydney but only Brisbane:
  • BR0315 TPE → BNE 3 5 ; 2230~0910
  • BR0316 BNE → TPE 4 6 ; 1025~1725
My most frequent destinations after moving to Sydney is likely Taipei, followed by maybe San Francisco, Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing, and Bangalore for work, and maybe other places around Asia and domestic cities and destinations in Australia (e.g., Brisbane, Melbourne) for leisure. Qantas, the flag carrier of Australia, may be the logical choice of airline for most people in Sydney (above image shows its hub/destinations), but unfortunately it doesn't have direct flights to my favorite destinations such as Taipei and San Francisco (last flight 2011/5/6).

In fact, the only direct flight between Taipei and Sydney is by China Airlines:
  • CI0051 TPE → SYD 2 3 5 7 ; 2355~1105
  • CI0052 SYD → TPE 1 3 4 6 ; 2210~0540
And direct flight between Sydney and San Francisco is by United Airlines:
  • UA870 SYD → SFO ; 1445~1101
  • UA863 SFO → SYD ; 2250~0625
Although there's plenty of connecting flights, I would rather forfeit frequent flyer incentives than withstand the extra time and effort (which can easily bump a 9h flight to 14+ hours).

Finally, it's worth pointing out the three global airline alliances:
  1. Star Alliances  -- includes United; Eva Air may become a member;
  2. SKYTEAM -- China Airlines and Virgin Blue may join in the future;
  3. oneworld -- includes Qantas.