Letters: The coolest little capital city

Force of Hobbit

I had the pleasure of spending last weekend in Wellington, the Middle of Middle Earth, the Coolest Little Capital of New Zealand. Wellington really lived up to its "cool" reputation and not just because the constant, driving wind kept down your body temperature.

As you exit the airport you are greeted by the Green Cabs. All the taxis in Wellington are hybrid vehicles. Cuba Street and Courteney Place are laden with cafes and bars, a hipster's heaven serving high-quality food, local microbrews, or 3am espresso. The favourable exchange rate made fine dining and drinking incredibly affordable.

A stroll to the Waterfront, a visit to the Te Papa national museum. Watched the Wellington v Western Sydney A-League game at Westpac Stadium. Visited the "Beehive" Parliament House. Took the cable car to the Botanic Gardens for that magnificent view of the town.

Wonderful, windy Wellington - Melbourne without the attitude.

- George Mladenov

Get smart - use an agent

I agree with Miriam Rosenman (Traveller Letters, December 1-2) regarding utilising the professional services of a travel agent.

For both international and domestic travel, my local travel agent has always provided more competitive prices than I have sourced online. This includes flights, accommodation, visas, car hire, and travel insurance.

By employing the services of an agent I am supporting my local economy, saving countless hours surfing the net and, most importantly of all, travelling with the peace of mind that I have someone to call should unforeseen problems arise.

- Jane Robertson

Pushed to the limit

I would like to support the views expressed by David Greenwood and Michael Assimo (Traveller Letters, December 1-2). I recently used the wheelchair service at Melbourne Airport, as I had just returned from Europe. I was barely acknowledged by the two young women who pushed my wheelchair and luggage, as they were deep in conversation. (About Spanish lessons and nights out.) They parked me too far away from the carousel for me to identify my luggage. Other passengers obscured my view; they walked away and continued their animated conversation. I called out to them several times but was ignored.

Another passenger tried to help me but was unable to grab my suitcase as it sailed by. After a long and tiring flight, I was the last person to get my luggage, although by this time it had gone past several times and I had waved and called out to these young women to get their attention. I would like to add that I had efficient and friendly service in Singapore, Frankfurt and Heathrow.

- Heather Richter

Cockfighting a cultural practice

Catherine Beer (Traveller letters, December 8-9) laments cockfighting in Bali while professing fond memories of her travels there. A cockfight is a requirement of Balinese temple ceremonies. You may abhor it, as I do; however, who are we to criticise the cultural practices of other regions? Why not ask the Balinese how they feel about our own cultural "rites of passage" (e.g. schoolies)?

- Simon Tredinnick

Burma, the right way

Lance Richardson (Traveller, December 8-9) gives wise advice in cautioning travellers to Burma to do their research to avoid unnecessary support for the military junta. Progress towards human rights and democracy for the long-suffering Burmese seems "two steps forward, one step back", as evidenced by the recent military attack on farmers and monks protesting the Letpadaung copper mine.

Two helpful sites for advice on ethical travel for my trip to Burma are tourismconcern.org.uk/burma and tourismtransparency.org/.

Intercity travel by bus, eating at street-vendor stalls and avoiding "all-inclusive"-style holiday packages are ways to increase the chances that most of your tourism dollars don't end up in the pockets of the junta and cronies, and allow you to experience the great warmth of the Burmese.

- Jim Richardson (no relation)

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