SUMMER studies in Tokyo brought me to “one of the world’s most efficient public transportation systems. Spotless, quiet and nearly always on time,” Tokyo’s network of buses, taxis, bullet and city trains, and tube/sub-ways are comfortable. Japanese cartography and accurate schedules provide commuters a safe guide to destinations. No need to understand/read Nihonggo for a new arrival. The numbers posted on buildings coincide with those on the map. (Read more: http://www.lonely planet. com/ japan /tokyo travel-tips-and-articles/77060 #ixzz3wNS4GF2t)
Unexpected perhaps by Filipino visitors to Germany is the fact that majority of the malls close on weekends following the Monday to Saturday rule. For most stores, Saturday closing time is at 3pm. However a law relaxed the strictly regulated store hours more a matter for the state rather than of the Federal Government, thus triggering varying store hours among the states. A certain number of Sundays are allowed for malls to open. Recently legislated is Christmas shopping on Sundays beginning November with less restricted hours.
Why the free time beginning mid-afternoon Saturday and whole of Sunday? Why a “BahnCard 50” is “half price for one’s spouse/partner, including to 6-to-17 aged children, students under age 27, severely handicapped and seniors over 60, applicable also to their spouse and two underage children?” This practice allows people working the entire week enough time for family togetherness — recreational activities, visits to kin in hospices and accompanying their young and guests to educational facilities — to museums, garden clubs nature conservation academies and other facilities promoting social family togetherness and environmental consciousness.
Being a newcomer in Paris, the City of Light, is not much of a problem either, as long as one has a map and understands what a grid layout is. It is one of the most striking examples of rational urban planning. Twenty arrondissements (districts) make up the city.
The first start from the center with the 19 others spiralling outwards in a clock-wise direction. “The grand, wide boulevards that march in straight lines through the city, lined with bustling cafés and tempting patisseries” are what make Paris so distinctive. <ww w.bbc.com/future/. .. /20130722-revolution-in-paris-street-design>
My month-long sojourn at Rue Dauphin familiarized me with well-known landmarks — San Michael, Champ Elyssees, Arc de Triumph, the Eiffel Tower, the Sacre Coeur, the Louvre etc, are a conscious part of the grid layout of city planning where streets intersect at right angles. At each corner street are posted the numbers “from No. — to No. — “ identifying the buildings which occupy the stretch until the next corner street. This system is much like that in a hospital. Room numbers posted on a corner room match the sequence of room numbers along a corridor – an easy guide to a patient’s room. Having such a practice locally would have saved me from a mistaken turn the taxi driver took when once I went to an Ambassador’s Forbes Park residence. Having made a wrong turn to the right, we had to drive the long way to the end of the avenue to make the left turn.
Another practice is the Oyster card — a single ticketing system — enabling travellers to switch between modes of transport with the same ticket, saving one a lot of time and fare.
Off peak hours fare reductions help decongest thorough fares allowing personnel to be in office on time. No need braving traffic in the wee hours of morning. Conformably, London malls open at ten in the morning. Employees drive their cars to their choice of transport, leaving them in well-kept parking facilities.
Central London’s tube with eleven color-coded lines takes one to the suburbs; a light railway provides links from Central London’s eastern part to the London City Airport. The Airport Express I took in coming over via British Airways from Heathrow runs rail services also for Gatwick, and three other airports. On my first week in London before classes started, I walked in and out of every tube station for a quick view of that part of London up to the endmost at Blackfriars. I also took a cruise along the Thames in a boat used for recreation and also for commuting.
Once, for a two-week off from studies in pre-Schengen visa time, I had to get my visas from embassies of continental countries I planned to visit. My map led me from Central London to these embassies through the mews. “Mews are narrow, intimate streets that balance the access and service functions of a lane with active building frontages, accessory uses, and a street space shared by cars and pedestrians.”<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mews#Mews_in_ contemporary_ urban_planning _and_new_construction>
As in other parts of the UK, Suburban London makes travel free from distress. There’s the over-ground — those orange-colored lines we often see on TV circling the northern suburbs. There’s the national railway, mostly running in the southern suburbs, but also connecting to some northern areas. Then, there’s the two-line tram-link, one line of which I take on some weekends for Shepherd’s Bush where Hindu stores sell clothing at such low prices. On weekends, unless pinned to the dorm or library for my assignments, I visit museums and nature conservation parks.
In sum, transport practice in the above countries provided easy and convenient travel, making my student days substantial and momentous. I experienced academic rigor. At the same time, excellent transport practices provided me time to enjoy the rich culture and conveniences of a great part of these countries.
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Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon, PhD, is one of the Philippines’ most accomplished educators and experts on institutional management in colleges and universities. Her studies have included not only education and pedagogy but also literature. She has studied not only in the topmost universities in the Philippines but also in Germany, Britain and Japan. She is now the Vice-President for External Relations and Internationalization of Liceo de Cagayan University (in Cagayan de Oro) after serving as its VP for Academic Affairs for six and a half years concurrent to her ten years as dean in the Graduate Studies of the same university. She holds a Lifetime Professional Achievement Award from the central office of the Commission on Higher Education.