Going postal in San Francisco
On a recent four-day stay in San Francisco there were postcards aplenty. Buying the stamps was another matter. There were no post offices anywhere, though at a souvenir shop at Fisherman's Wharf, the shop attendant said, "We sell stamps," so bought eight airmail stamps, postcards and a few other souvenirs. Back at the hotel I couldn't work out the money spent, so went back the next day and was informed there was a $5 "service fee" for stamps, almost as much as the stamps themselves. By the way, don't try to post anything at LAX - there are no post boxes at the airport since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and no one wanted to touch the postcards. I brought them back to Australia.
Kangaroos gone wild
I read the Murramarang resort review (Traveller, March 29-31) with interest, particularly the description of the kangaroo attack. Kangaroos living around Murramarang National Park are used to human contact and will often approach people looking for a free feed. Visitors often assume they are tame but need to be aware - they are not! As a doctor working in the Batemans Bay Hospital Emergency Department over the past 17 years, I have seen several children with kangaroo-inflicted injuries. As a general rule, kids should stay away from any kangaroo that is taller than they are. I wrote to the NPWS years ago asking for warning signs to be put up around the popular kangaroo sites at South Durras and Pebbly Beach but to no avail.
An issue of delicacy
Despite a headline of "Curry, cats and chaos", Mark Dapin's article on Bangladesh (Traveller, March 23-24) belies his knowledge of food, commenting on "disappointing" biryani "often made with mutton that's little more than lamb bones". In fact, mutton is the Bangladeshi parlance for goat, not lamb. Ditto in neighbouring Myanmar. As they say, beware of sheep's clothing.
Choose your own menu
To Fehmin Shafi ("Nutting it out", Traveller Letters, March 23-24), we deal with my own food challenges by renting apartments and doing our own cooking. You'll discover an enthralling world of markets where you can source fresh food. Take some favourite dried herbs and spices from home to liven things up a bit. Shopping for meals can be fun for the whole family, and is a photographer's dream.
When renting an apartment, it's best to ask the owner what cooking equipment is provided, and go armed with a few basic recipes that you know your children will enjoy. You can prepare just about anything on a stovetop in one pot with a lid (yes, check the lids are included).
Airlines should be prepared to tell you in which cities the airline food is prepared, which may help you decide whether to take your own home-made cheese sandwiches or eat the food provided.
Our high Australian dollar means food shopping in Europe is not expensive (and often cheaper). What you save on restaurants and dining out during your travels, you could put towards a pricier apartment with a better view.
Old fashion in New England
On a coach tour through New England, US, I lost my electrical adaptor, and was unable to charge phone/camera/PC, despite trying to find a replacement over the next few days. Arriving in Portland, Maine, I went to the Hilton Hotel as a last resort. The gracious manager at the front desk drove me to a nearby Radio Shack in her lunch hour (although I told her I wasn't a guest at the hotel). Radio Shack was out of stock, but located another store that held the item, and called a cab. The cab driver duly delivered me to the next store, waited while I made my purchase, then drove me back to the city centre, deviating with meter off to show me some special areas of his town. Amazing people who went out of their way and expected nothing in return - it was one of the highlights of my trip!
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