I was shocked when my Qantas cash card, not due to expire until August this year, was declined when I went to use it in a Paris restaurant in late June. Fortunately, I had enough cash to settle the bill.
After I made phone calls to the Qantas call centre, they finally admitted their system had failed me. Qantas said a replacement card had been sent to my home in Australia, but it did not arrive for several weeks.
Qantas did arrange to provide some emergency cash in Paris, but only half the balance on my card. They also provided a small amount of compensation but it was not enough to cover expenses such as taxi fares to pick up the cash, overseas phone calls and the extra fees incurred on the Visa card I was then forced to use.
So, carry more than one credit or debit card when travelling overseas and ensure there is plenty of time before the expiry date.
Sue Donovan, Abbotsford, VIC
MAD ABOUT SAFFRON
I can relate, oh so much, to Jane Reddy's experience, as expressed in her editor's letter, of the early morning alms procession by Buddhist monks through the streets of Luang Prabang in Laos.
On my many visits, I like to go to the monastery school on Mount Phousi to teach the "monklets" English. They may look like little angels in their saffron robes but, oh boy, they can be little devils.
Anyway, I thoroughly enjoy it and so do most of the small monks. They even learnt Waltzing Matilda on a visit some years ago.
On another occasion, early morning, I was standing on the long street of the town watching and breathing the wonderful, ethereal, reverent atmosphere. Complete silence. No cars, no talking, even the rooster did not crow – just the sound of tourists' cameras clicking and whirring.
Then breaking the silence in a shattering way, from the end of the line, "Mr Don! Teacher, our teacher!" from three very young excitable monks who saw me on the corner.
Then a "whoops" as they realised what they had done and quickly bowed their heads. Well, head poobah monk silently extricated himself from the procession and waited as the line slowly shuffled past. He said nothing; the monklets said nothing, but everyone knew!
That afternoon I again clambered up Mount Phousi to the monk school to start my lesson. And there at the entrance were three little monks, all busy brushing the Buddha's toenails with toothbrushes as punishment.
Donald J. Daniels, Brisbane, QLD
A TOAST TO KYOTO
I have just read Lesley Holden's article about markets in Kyoto (Traveller, September 1) and was excited to read about Danny Matheson and the Jam Jar Lounge.
On my trip to Kyoto in October last year I was recommended this great little coffee shop by my cousin who is a regular visitor to Japan. A friend of my cousin had worked with Danny in Melbourne.
On entering and hearing our Aussie accents Danny and Kazuo made us feel very much at home. Jam Jar is exactly as described, except the story didn't mention the delicious toasted sandwiches, which the guys cooked for us. It is definitely worth a visit when in Kyoto.
Vicki McDowell, Maroubra, NSW
ONE CROWDED MOMENT
I have been fortunate over many years to visit extraordinary places, including Wadi Rum (by accident) in Jordan, the sand dunes along the Skeleton Coast in Namibia, the Taktsan Monastery (Tiger's Nest) in Bhutan and Everest Base Camp, among others.
I live in the moment, because no one place is better or more exciting than another. It's at that crystal moment when the wonder sets in, the heart beats faster and you realise you are experiencing nature at its most extraordinary.
On a trip to the Galapagos I had the opportunity to swim through Kicker Rock. I'm not a strong swimmer but with another passenger and our two guides I jumped off the Panga (boat) and swam through the cleft in the island and was picked up on the other side. We were out in the middle of the ocean.
Seize the day. These opportunities probably will not come again.
Charmain Williams, Forster, NSW
GREENS WITH ENVY
Travelling as a vegetarian/vegan can be tricky in many parts of the world. But all over Britain today food suppliers recognise the rapidly growing number of vegetarians and vegans.
All eating places, including the most traditional of pubs, proudly proclaim their vegan and vegetarian dishes on billboards and menus.
Being back in Australia it's back to the culinary desert for those of us who choose not to eat animal products. It's time to catch up.
Judy Hungerford, North Curl Curl, NSW
In previous decades when travelling I used to pick up books by local authors (especially short stories) so I could bring a piece of the country and its culture home with me.
The availability of ebooks has changed my behaviour and I now use tripfiction.com to enhance my travel experiences, in a similar way to Jimmy Thomson's piece "How to give your travels a novel twist" (Traveller, August 25).
It is especially useful for recommendations for novels of different genres set in different countries.
For example, I like crime novels and have found Leon Padura for Cuba, Arnaldur Indridason for Iceland and Shamini Flint for Southeast Asia to be excellent for learning some of the customs, food and idiosyncrasies of different cities and countries.
Gwen Higgins, Rozelle, NSW
ADVANCED AUSTRALIAN 'WHERES'
Thank you, for recent the articles on Cowra, NSW, and the painted silos in Victoria (Traveller, August 25) Finally, something about parts of Australia that are extremely interesting, can be explored in a few days and do not cost the earth to visit.
I have visited Cowra and it is an amazing place. The Japanese Gardens, in particular, provide an almost religious experience. There surely are hundreds of other places in Australia like this one.
Brenda Montgomery, Bega, NSW
I, too, have found communication with Melbourne Airport parking nearly impossible (Traveller letters, August 25). Using my American Express card on Saturday, August 11, was fine.
On the following Wednesday, after a pre-paid booking, using my Amex card was not accepted at entry. My Visa card worked so I was charged twice.
Two weeks later I'm still waiting for info on a refund after five attempts at contact.
David Lloyd, Red Hill, VIC
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