Letters: Upset and appalled by Traveller article

Cockfighting cruelty

I read your newspaper daily and enjoy the travel section. However, when I read the article on Bali over the weekend (Traveller, December 1-2), I was upset and appalled.

It was not about Bali per se, as I have many fond memories of holidays to Bali. It was the reference to the roosters - "the roadsides are lined with upside-down woven baskets covering roosters, ready for a bout of cockfighting" - and the image that I found extremely inappropriate. The way this cruel activity is presented in your article conveyed the message that cockfighting is acceptable, but cockfighting is illegal in Australia because it is the epitome of animal cruelty for the pleasure and profit of humans.

Sometimes people strap on spurs on the legs of the roosters to inflict more pain when they are desperately fighting for their lives. After a bout of cockfighting, these poor creatures are left for dead.

- Catherine Beer

Editor's note: The reference to cockfighting in Belinda Jackson's story (Home of the island gods, Traveller, December 1-2) and the accompanying image were not intended as a recommendation to readers. We apologise for any offence caused.

Help the locals

How can a passenger paying $10,760 for a cruise to Papua New Guinea (Smoke on the water, Traveller, November 24-25) gain satisfaction from bargaining a subsistence craftsman out of a paltry 20 kina? Having recently returned from seven days in New Britain, my fourth holiday in this delightful country, I would hope that Orion Expedition Cruises does more to advise on the culture and economy of the places its passengers visit. Bargaining is not appropriate.

I have also experienced people not buying items because they "do not fit the decor at home". Yet a few dollars spent by visitors to PNG can mean a huge difference for a child wanting to go to secondary school. So buy up big and, when you're back in Port Moresby, go across the road from the airport and GIVE the items you've bought to the women selling souvenirs. They will resell them to the generous Americans now flooding the tourist hotels.

- Julia Colvin

Quick for some passengers

In response to writers commenting on the delays at Melbourne Airport (Traveller Letters, November 24-25 and December 1-2), we arrived at Melbourne on an A320 just after two A380s had landed.

We disembarked the aircraft at 9.50am, purchased duty-free items, cleared customs and quarantine, and drove out of the long-term car park at 10.30am. We congratulate all those involved on their ability to quickly process very large numbers of people.

- Martin and Fran Sheean

Tricky but worthwhile

I highly recommend a stay at Koyasan Onsen Fukuchi-in at Mount Koya (Seeking advice on a Zen pilgrimage to Japan, Traveller Letters, November 24-25). It was a memorable part of our three-week holiday in Japan. To reach Mount Koya, you travel from Osaka to Nara by train, then cable car and bus. Yes, it's tricky to get to but you can plan the trip online from Australia and trust Japan Rail's timetable to run to schedule.

Koyasan Onsen Fukuchi-in, at the Koya Keisatsu-mae bus stop, near the police station, is a Buddhist temple that welcomes guests. It has an onsen (hot springs), you can watch the 6am ritual of Buddhist prayers, and the gardens are divine. But the best part is the food: vegetarian monk cuisine. Amazing, tasty, fresh, colourful and unusual, it is all beautifully prepared and presented in your room, on a dozen plates and bowls.

- Jacqui Hammerton

I took my two teenage daughters to Mount Koya in October to the recommended Sojiin monastery for an authentic experience. In Kyoto, we stayed at Ryokan Kinoe (kinoe.co.jp/ryokan-kyoto). The food and service were exceptional. In Tokyo, we stayed at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel (princehotels.com), near the railway station.

- Catherine Alevaki

We welcome travel-related opinions, experiences and letters. Letters may be edited for space, legal or other reasons. Email us at travellerletters@fairfax.com.au including name, address and phone number.