I am extremely frustrated each time I return to Sydney Airport. It does not seem to matter what time my flight lands, I find myself waiting at least 30 minutes for my bags - and that's after a toilet stop and a quick browse at duty-free shops. Singapore's Changi Airport and Hong Kong International Airport should be the benchmark: bags already on the carousel waiting for me after I've walked from the plane, through immigration and straight to the carousel.
- K.P. Pham
It is peak ski season in Hakuba, Japan, yet there are so few people on the slopes midweek you never have to queue for a chairlift. The snow is incredible - deep and powdery in some areas, beautifully groomed in others. We recommend the strangely named Pension Funny Inn Hakuba (funnyinn.com). The hosts could not have been more generous, driving our family of five to hire skis and later dropping us at the train station when we left. The owner is a French-trained chef; inn meals are delicious; and there was an onsen (hot tub) in our room, perfect for soaking tired muscles after a day on the slopes.
- Trish Radge
In response to Yasmin Hogan's request for insurance that covers Australians while mountain climbing in Europe (Traveller Letters, January 26-27), I suggest she check out the New Zealand Alpine Club (alpineclub.org.nz).
- Sheila Lunter
Try IHI-Bupa travel (ihi.com). It's a Danish company that insured us for a Mount Everest climb.
- Michael Dillon
Patch with a catch
On a recent trip that involved sea travel, a friend gave me a patch to help counteract possible seasickness. Many people on the vessel had similar patches. For me, however, it was a case of "read the small print". A few hours after applying the patch, I became disoriented. The episode, which included a fall, lasted for eight hours and required medical attention plus supervision from my travel companions. I subsequently learnt that a patch can contain a powerful drug that can have side effects for some users. Best taken only with medical approval. Travellers, beware.
- Vicky Marquis
In response to the debate about Italian drivers (Traveller Letters, January 19-20 and 26-27), yes, maybe they can control their cars better but I have lost count of the times I have been behind drivers taking the "racing line" (the middle of the road) on mountain roads with blind bends. I have driven extensively in Europe and was never more terrified than in Italy. However, if you want to see truly appalling driving, try Belgium.
- Nikki Keene
The real Miami vice
When our cruise ship recently docked in Miami, we decided to investigate the shops at the nearby Bayside Marketplace. Though it's less than a mile away, there is a loading area and a bridge that are difficult to negotiate on foot, so we opted for a waiting taxi. It took all of five minutes to get to our destination. When we arrived, the surly driver, who had neglected to use his meter, snapped: "Fifteen!" (as in dollars). Naturally, we questioned it and told him we had made a note of his number. He grudgingly settled for $4 (which we knew was a fair figure). On the return journey to the ship, a taxi driver used his meter. It ticked over at a lightning rate, so that it showed $11.50 by the time we reached the pier, mere minutes later. We told him the price was ridiculous, whereupon he explained that his meter was "broken and needed fixing". "How much did you pay on the way over?" he asked. "Four dollars," we replied. "Then that's OK," he said. There may not be sharks in the Atlantic off Miami, but rest assured there are plenty on land.
- James Cooper
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