On a recent visit to Istanbul, we were charmed by salesmen in a handicrafts shop in the Sultanahmet district. We bought what was described to us as a silk rug made in Turkey. We parted with $15,000. The rug was to be delivered to us together with a certificate of its provenance.
However, the rug arrived without certification and proved to be probably made in China and worth a fraction of what we had paid. Emails and phone calls were made but went unanswered. Turkish officials in Australia also tried to contact the store, without success. The conclusion is that the people I had been dealing with were crooks. We learnt an expensive lesson.
- Eva Gardyn
On the road to Oman
We are thinking about undertaking a self-drive journey in January from Dubai through Ash Shariqah to the Musandam Peninsula, then to Muscat in Oman. We would appreciate advice on security, road quality and must-see places.
- Elizabeth Collison
Safety in Vietnam
Kathy Burns (A question of independence, Traveller Letters, June 16-17) will have a wonderful time in Vietnam provided she uses common sense and observes the usual precautions - no flashy jewellery, respect local conventions, keep money somewhere safe when out and about, use taxi companies recommended by your hotel and stick to the beaten track at night. I felt safer in Vietnam, even when out on my own, than I did in Venice.
- Janine Lucato
Greying and grazing
Go Kathy, go. I'm over 70 and spent a month in Vietnam in February. I travelled on all forms of public transport and had no fears or worries. My greatest fun was riding as a pillion passenger on a street food tour (email chef Daniel Hoyer at email@example.com or email True Color Tours at firstname.lastname@example.org). Don't miss having dinner at Hanoi's 96 Restaurant (see www.96restaurant.com), either. In Hoi An, I recommend the Villa Hoa Su.
- Jann Southey
Book first, save later
Generally, white hair gets you respect and even sometimes the front seat in Vietnam. Tours are available in Hanoi much cheaper than if booked from Australia. I could barely have done my first excursion to Sapa any cheaper than the train package offered, and while the cheaper overnight option to magical Halong Bay was loads of fun (I spent the night on deck in the moonlight), next time I'll try an upmarket version. Don't miss the water puppets or the ethnological museum.
- Mary Lightfoot
Impressed by Air Pacific
I was impressed with Air Pacific on a recent trip to Fiji when my cancellation (four seats, 48 hours before departure) of an inter-island flight on its domestic service, Pacific Sun, was met with a rapid refund and minimal penalty. The full fare less $F50 ($26) was refunded in just 24 hours.
- Ron Loncar
A few years ago we had our checked luggage plastic-wrapped in Johannesburg, South Africa (Bag security, Traveller, June 9-10). When we arrived in Sydney the wrapping was inside our luggage and some of our valuables weren't.
- Bill Tarrant
Crete in bloom
My wife and I and three others recently spent several days in Crete touring with Julia Jones, an artist and botanist, travelling by four-wheel-drive and photographing the flora. Jones was an excellent guide of both flora and ancient ruins. She knew the cheap, genuine eating places, where to get good, inexpensive accommodation, and more. Those who like painting courses may also find her organisation useful as it runs workshops. See flowersofcrete.info.
- Robert van de Graaff
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