Traveller letters: Peanut butter is a deadly, spreadable force that cannot be carried onto a plane

LETTER OF THE WEEK

CRUNCH TIME

Peanut butter lovers beware at Sydney Airport. I am an insulin dependent diabetic. Many flights these days feed you zip, nothing, nudder not even water unless you pay through the nose for it.

Thus, when I'm on a plane for several hours I have to bring food with me. My favourite in-flight nutrition - well until now - has been crunchy peanut butter.

I've taken it to the US, Thailand, Singapore, England and Ireland and have never a problem at any until today. Today an unopened Bega peanut butter was verboten.

It was confiscated and I was subjected to further security checks - bag zapped three times, body checked and patted down twice, checked for explosives.

Allegedly peanut butter is a liquid and thus cannot go on the plane. Its other faults were that is is spreadable- clearly some deadly force - as I could smear it on someone or something and that I had 500 gram jar of it. Maybe if I had only bought a little jar I may have scraped (or smeared) through

John F. Gibson, Ballina, NSW

SIEGE MENTALITY

Is your image of Lebanon insecurity, hostility to Westerners and a country under siege? You couldn't be more wrong.

As a solo female traveller I have just returned from a week where I walked around the streets of Beirut at night on my own feeling safer than I do in Sydney.

I experienced amazing hospitality from a multi-lingual population keen to engage with overseas visitors; saw breathtakingly beautiful mountains and beaches while exploring the history of a civilisation stretching back thousands of years.

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And I ate the some of the best food I have tasted in nearly 50 years of overseas travel.

Jennie Morris, Wollongong, NSW

EDTOR'S NOTE The Federal Government's Smart Traveller website continues to recommend that Australians to "reconsider your need to travel" to Lebanon and recommends against travel to specific parts of the country.

KEEP IT CLEAN

Jann Burmester's suggestion that tourists play their part in reducing rubbish (Letters, May 5) is spot on.

As he says, there are over one million Australians visiting Bali a year. I'd suggest each one gets at least two unnecessary plastic bags a day.

What if they said no and used the backpack or handbag most carry? Allow an average stay of five days (low for Australians). That's 10,000,000, yes, 10 million plastic bags taken out of the mess.

Warren Menteith, Nyatnyatan, Bali

CROSS PURPOSES

Ben Groundwater writing on borders (Traveller, May 5) might have included the Dreiländereck or "Three Countries Corner". That's where Germany, Belgium and Holland intersect at the top of a hill.

The beautiful town of Aachen is nearby; you can drive out or catch a bus and walk up. Find the plaque marking the 'corner' and you can position yourself so that two feet and a hand rest in each country.

Then have a drink in the rather gloomy cafe, especially if it's raining. Tourism at its un-made-over, daggy best.

Margaret Jacobs, Aireys Inlet, VIC

The cover story on border crossings (Traveller, May 5) was good as it showed the continuing changes wrought on part of the world from one time to another.

In 1983-4 we travelled over many borders, some now don't exist but then did and some that didn't but now do.

The most famous was between East and West Berlin and that famous wall (we went through by train), between the USSR and Poland where the carriages were lifted up to change gauges.

Tony & Kerry Miller, Ulverstone, TAS

Thank you for your article on borders. It reminded me how several years ago my wife and I reversed the DMZ Panmunjom crossing over the white line in the blue hut from North to South Korea during a seven day visit to the Hermit Kingdom.

Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla, ACT

TAXING TIMES

Regarding the letter claiming that Australia could learn a lot from a "world-class Norway" (Traveller, May 5), the writer's glowing endorsement of its infrastructure is warranted.

However, Norway is one of the most heavily taxed countries in the world with a tax burden of around 45 per cent of GDP (compared to Australia's of around 28 per cent). VAT (GST) is an eye-watering 25 per cent (compared to Australia's 10 per cent and excluding most food).

Norway's personal income taxes border 55 per ent and corporate tax ranges from 28 to 78 per cent.

So "Norway's investment in infrastructure for the benefit of its population" is actually not so "simply astounding".

Be careful what you wish for: "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch."

Greg Williams, Bilambil Heights. NSW

BEST BARS NONE

Norway's telecommunication infrastructure may well be better than ours, as George Fishlock suggests. Here at the house, an hour or so from a state capital, phone reception is variously zero, one or two bars.

Undoubtedly we have foolishly frittered away the fruits of our resources and past labours. However, part of the reason for our poorer telecommunications performance lies in the fact that our land mass is approaching 20 times that of Norway while our population is perhaps around five times that of Norway.

There is a plus in that: when one can travel 1,000 kilometres and see nothing, one is really seeing something special.

Ross Dryan, Scenic Rim, QLD

HOT IN THE CITY

Thank you, Brian Johnston for your article, "You sexy thing" (Traveller, April 28) . We have just booked our end of financial year break at the SO Sofitel Bangkok after reading your scintillating review.

Now let's hope sexiness is truly seductive at any age.

Rhoda Silber, Manly, NSW

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