A few years ago my husband and I travelled to Japan to stay with his former home stay family, the Yamanakas, who live in a place called Kashiwa, about a 40 minute train journey into central Tokyo.
Day one of the holiday and I’m greeted with Sashimi for dinner and a golden retriever named Shun who has his own seat at the table. Its official I’ve landed on another planet.
Another of life’s basic functions, going to the toilet, is an experience too. Electricity is a lot cheaper there and it shows. Navigating the toilet’s control panel with its foreign buttons takes a bit of getting used to. Button number one brings a pleasant surprise; a nicely heated seat to warm one’s derrière. Buttons two, three and four don’t go as smoothly however. All of sudden the toilet lights up like a disco, water is spraying up from the bowl and the radio has come on.
Feeling a little helpless and certainly not in Kansas anymore, I can hear raucous laughter from the nearby sitting room; Japanese houses are not big. Our hosts along with my husband are clearly entertained. My first direct experience of the Japanese love affair with gadgets.
The fun doesn’t stop there, the soap dispenser is motion sensitive and of course they have an electric hand drier. The fridge also politely suggests you close the door if it feels it’s been open a bit too long.
The next day we take to the road to visit some temples and the Yamanakas catch their first glimpse of my digital camera. Again I find my hosts laughing at me or my camera atleast. Admittedly it’s old and pretty s*ite. I’ve made up my mind, I’m going to splurge on a new one in Akihabara, Tokyo’s famed electronics district when I get a chance.
Day four of the holiday and we decide to take in The Sony Building, before continuing on to Akihabara. The Sony Building is an impressive 6 floors of state of the art gadgets some of which aren’t yet in the marketplace. Wanting to get my own back for “toilet gate” I tell my husband that they have robots on the top floor. This is in fact a blatant lie.
After some wandering around the glossy gadget showroom I suggest he asks the ladies behind the counter where the robotics section is. Since we’ve arrived he’s been met with surprise and delight by shop keepers when he speaks Japanese and he’s been loving the reaction.
Up he goes to the counter and I just about catch “Roboticso” at the end of his sentence. This sends the shop assistants into convulsions. I join in the chorus and the penny begins to drop….he’s been stitched up!” Beautifully played if I do say so myself.
Next it’s off to Akihabara to immerse ourselves in some more gadgets and what a sight to behold. It’s like Christmas on steroids. Not a place for those who are sensitive to flashing images but paradise for gadget lovers. Tablets, Smartphones, cameras, consoles and everything in between. I now wish I’d done my homework before coming over so I know where to start. A gadget geek I am not.
In the end I decide not to buy myself a flash new digital camera and put up with a combination of my iPhone and my old brick of a digital camera for the rest of holiday.
Little did I know at this point however that my iPhone would meet an untimely and spectacular death a few days later as a result of a selfie gone wrong on a bridge, over some rapids, at the foot of a waterfall. Need I say more?
While raging that I’d lost some of my photos and annoyed I’d be constrained to my antique digital camera for the next few days I took some comfort from the fact that I had travel insurance.
Japan was a big and expensive holiday for us so I made sure to take out travel insurance.
Imagine my humour then when I phoned my travel insurance provider when I got home to learn that my phone and other gadgets weren’t covered by my insurance policy.
I had assumed wrongly that my Smartphone was covered . I’ve since learned given that I work for the AA that this is a very common mistake that travellers make. Like many the poor unfortunates before me, I learned the hard way that most travel insurance policies don’t cover gadgets like iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones and tablets.
So the moral of this story, if you’re the haphazard type like me, make sure you have gadget cover . There are a few gadget insurance options available to you. In most cases you can insure your smartphone through your network provider but this can be pretty costly. You can also speak to your home insurance provider about gadget cover and how you can add your gadgets as specific item on your policy or you can purchase a stand along gadget insurance product.
If the stand alone gadget insurance option appeals you might want to check out AA Gadget Insurance. We now provide insurance for iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones and tabletsyou for those “whoops” moments both at home or when you’re travelling.