Letters: Aussies an embarrassment on great train journey

Aussies derail Rockies tour

We recently returned from a tour of Canada and Alaska, including two days spent on the Rocky Mountaineer train from Jasper to Vancouver via Kamloops. Our tour group was made up entirely of Australians, with about 50 of us in the one carriage. Some were tour addicts who think that smart-alec jokes and suggestive banter and singalongs are entertaining. It was reminiscent of a Murray River pokie tour or year-end football trip. Alcoholic drinks on the train are available in the morning. Apologies to tourists from other countries who had to experience this embarrassing behaviour.

- Greig and Mary Connell

Fine material on the Silk Road

Uzbekistan may be a little-known country for many, but not to people interested in visiting the ancient cities of the Silk Road. I recently joined a small-group tour to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan (see uzbekjourneys.com). Run by Australian Penelope Price, the drawcard was the opportunity to visit artisans and artists' studios, and enjoy lunches and dinners in private homes.

- Catherine Jarratt

SuperShuttle super slow

Trevor Taylor's experience with the New York SuperShuttle (Traveller, July 14-15) is about typical. The waiting time for the minibus is always "20 minutes" but the bus practically never leaves until there are nine passengers (often involving multiple stops at terminals). Anyone using the shuttle also has to factor in the time taken to drop nine passengers in Manhattan. If you're the unlucky last passenger, you can be another hour en route to your destination, although you get a free tour of neighbourhoods.

- Bruce Hyland

Rolling on the isle

Max Anderson's Happy on Hammo (Traveller, July 7-8) really tells it like it is. Last winter I took a group of active seniors to Hamilton Island. We stayed at the Reef View Hotel's refurbished rooms. The island was humming with happy people. The restaurants were of generally excellent quality, while Dent Island Golf Club and the Yacht Club, with its beautiful restaurant and sunset bar, were fabulous.

- Adrienne Witteman

Pure delight of Timor-Leste

Having just returned from Timor-Leste, I feel compelled to respond to the article about the country as an emerging tourist destination (Take-off, Traveller, July 21-22). The environment is beautiful and unspoilt from the usual tourist trade. Accommodation is basic but often environmentally sound, such as the gorgeous Tutuala Beach area and Jaco Island. The highlands are hampered by a lack of decent roads, but four-wheel-drives and their reliable drivers handle the conditions with ease. I felt safe in Dili, even at night, and dealing with taxis was fair and easy. Our tour guide from Island Explorer (see islandexplorer.com.au) was young and enthusiastic, with perfect English. Some visitors were there to scuba dive, others to walk and bike ride. For the tourist who wants to learn and view an emerging country, Timor-Leste is a pure delight.

- Janice Creenaune

Teaching scams

Lisa Jamieson asks if her daughter's offer from a recruiting agency is a scam (Teaching in China, Traveller Letters, July 21-22). The answer is, "it depends". While there are legitimate opportunities to teach, usually they require a qualification in ESL/TESOL, and they usually don't provide a lot of time to travel and experience the country. You need to research the company, the school(s) and details of contract(s). Generally speaking, if the agency is providing anything for "free" (travel, housing, food), it means you aren't getting paid market rates and the quality of the "free" services may be questionable. Ask the agency for referrals and double-check visa and other requirements with relevant authorities. See Dave's ESL Cafe job board (eslcafe.com/jobs) for feedback about other people's experiences.

- Karen Woodman

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