Letters: Tourism industry could learn something from Japan's good manners

Destination with a bullet

On a recent three-week trip to Honshu, Japan, my husband and I decided not to buy a 14-day Japan rail pass before leaving at $445 each. We were a bit unsure about this decision, but used the excellent site hyperdia.com to plan and price all our segments for a one-way trip from Tokyo, to the Alps, Takayama, Kyoto area and Osaka.

We ended up taking seven trains and three buses at a total cost of $282 each. Yes, we did the Shinkansen (bullet) train, but used equally fabulous, less expensive trains. All 10 trips were easy to book at the stations on the day of travel and were always punctual. Transport was spotlessly clean and all staff were extremely helpful and eager to assist, always with a smile.

On a further note, perhaps our Australian hospitality students should all do a compulsory few weeks study in Japan, where good manners, courtesy and willingness to assist are the norm, not the exception.

-Christine Gribble

Penang's friendly face

In 2012 we kept Leisa Tyler's information about Noordin Mews Hotel in Penang (Traveller, June 15) and took it with us when we stayed there, to the delight of the staff. We found it to be as she described (Traveller, March 29-31).

Over our five-day stay we observed it to be family-, pet-, gay- and aged-person friendly. We loved the quirky decor. The neighbourhood isn't as glamorous as the hotel, but we got value for money, and were less than a five-minute walk from the bus station and the big stores.

A big thanks to Leisa for putting us on to this hotel and to Karl Steinberg and Christopher Ong for having the courage and flair to develop this interesting type of accommodation.

-Penny and Alf Fox

Stamp of approval

David Francis (Traveller Letters, April 6-7) did not look very hard for a post office in San Francisco.

While there is no post office at Fisherman's Wharf, there are many downtown. One of the better known ones is at Union Square in the Macy's building. David could also have checked usps.com to find a listing of all US post offices.

It should be noted that in Sydney there are no post offices in The Rocks or at the Fish Market, both surely tourist destinations.

-Katharine Stevenson

Shot through to London

We had friends from England staying with us for a week and, like all good Melburnians, we took them to Sovereign Hill.

When the time came for their departure at Tullamarine, the gentleman tourist was randomly selected at security to have the explosive swab. It was positive and so were two others. The sniffer dog was called but it took no interest in him; however, he was taken to a room for a shakedown and his shoes were examined. Finally, after an hour, he was allowed to go. Thank goodness we had taken them there in plenty of time.

I now wonder that because they had watched the musket firing (at Sovereign Hill) and had photos taken with the soldiers, whether this could have affected the security screening?

-Ray Sheldon

Road worrier

I am thinking of travelling to Europe in the next northern winter. Although I have driven on the continent many times, I have never driven there in winter conditions. I will be mainly in the north-east of France and north-western Belgium.

I would like to hear other readers' experiences of driving in winter conditions in these regions and if they would recommend it or not. I would also be interested in any hints or tips for driving in these conditions.

-Graeme Miller

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