Readers' letters - Saturday, May 18

LETTER OF THE WEEK

CRACKLING YARN

I believe Marg O'Neill (Rants & raves, May 4) is getting confused with another island, as the Norfolk Island my partner and I experienced two years after Marg found love there, was nothing short of horrendous.

We were supposed to have been met at the airport and taken to our hotel. No one turned up so we made our own way there. Directed to our room, we found someone asleep in the bed.

We were then shown another room and told, "Well, this must be yours"! Don't think so as there's a half-eaten packet of biscuits on the bed. Thank you, goodbye.

We ended up checking into another hotel and thought we'd try the buffet that night. The chef said, "Would you like some pork crackling?" and ripped it apart with her bare hands and plonked it on my plate.

We left this Pacific "paradise" on the next flight.

Anthony Curtis, Alfredton, VIC

PRIDE OF OUR LIVES

Like writer Roy Masters, I also enjoyed a wonderful journey on Rohan Vos' "largest privately owned train set in the world, The Pride Of Africa" (Traveller, April 27).

We entrained at Cape Town where we were greeted by Rohan Vos and escorted to our luxurious train, which had a veritable United Nations passenger list of 42 people.

A group of Russians occupied the best suites, dressed for the delicious dinners and dominated the observation car.

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A highlight was our arrival at the private railway station in Pretoria. Standing on the observation car balcony, I watched the beautifully restored steam engine emerge, connect to our car and push us into the station.

Bill Matthewson, Doncaster East, VIC

WOMEN ARE DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES

Further to Kim Webber's letter "Guiding Principles" (Rants & raves, May 4), there are tours in India led by woman guides, regardless of the gender mix of the tour participants, run by Intrepid Travel.

Intrepid Travel also runs women-only expeditions, led by female guides, to various destinations including to Nepal.

Melissa Cannon, Ascot Vale, VIC

CROSS PURPOSES

Like Michael Copping (Traveller, May 4) I travelled on the Greyhound buses in the US for just $99 for 30 days.

It was 1970 and I stopped off at Leesville, Louisiana, to visit my friend from Sydney who had married an American GI she had met in Kings Cross, Sydney, while he was on R&R from Vietnam.

What exciting times they were. Sydney was crawling with men in uniform with loads of money to splash around. Only problem if you married one was you ended up living on an army base in some remote town in the US while they went back to Vietnam.

Carol Sale, Saratoga, NSW

CRITS AND GRITS

I thoroughly enjoyed your cover story on the food critics' verdict on airline food (Traveller, April 27) by Terry Durack and Jill Dupleix. It was a fascinating look into an amazing industry. 

It would be great if you could do a follow-up article on how and where the on-board staff are trained, and what they have to do to prepare the food in the galley before handing it out to passengers.

Tina Neil, Urangan, QLD

PRESSING MATTER

Have any readers, travelling on a budget, ever used the in-room electric iron to toast bread for breakfast (Rants & raves, May 4)? It is also possible to make a nice toasted cheese and ham sandwich.

Al Cairns, Bathurst, NSW

SPIRITS OF AUSTRALIA

There is no great mystery about complimentary alcoholic drinks on Qantas domestic flights (Rants & raves, April 23), but they are only offered on select services.

For example, passengers are offered free beer or wine on flights between Adelaide and Sydney (and return) that depart after 4pm weekdays, while on transcontinental flights, drinks are complimentary daily from noon. The full policy is on the Qantas website.

David Carpenter, Alice Springs, NT

FAITHFUL FOLLOWERS

We are often inspired to choose destinations according to recommendations by other travellers via your letters pages or your writers and we've just returned from Iran, thanks to an article by Catherine Marshall (Traveller, December 8, 2018).

We took the article with us and shared it with our guide. Re-reading it now brings back so many happy memories.

The wonderful food (imagine a chicken breast smothered in a pomegranate and walnut sauce), the super friendly people, a man we met in a coffee shop who helped me negotiate the purchase of a hot water bottle to ease my sore back, and the constant "where you from?" queries.

The most dangerous thing about Iran is crossing the road and even then someone was always willing to help, including a member of the security force who stopped the traffic for a couple of foreigners.

We used a Melbourne-based company called mystictours.com.au and travelled with a driver/guide who was most considerate and well informed.

We also followed Traveller's recommendation for this type of tour in Oman some years ago and found it an excellent way to see the country and meet the people.

Thanks again for the inspiration,Traveller.

Ros Barwick, Sunnybank Hills, QLD

SHARE AND SHARE ALIKE

Chris Whittall (Rants & raves, May 4) asks if solo-traveller issues will be covered by Traveller.

On a recent trekking tour of Nepal (Tour Radar – highly recommended), the local guide placed myself and a fellow traveller in twin-share accommodation, even though we had both paid the single supplement.

Is there any point in paying a single supplement when this is ignored by tour operators "on the ground"?

Tim Spinks, Hawthorn, VIC

GOLDEN FLEECE

En-route to Vietnam, we foolishly changed money with Travelex at Melbourne Airport without having first checked on the exchange rate.

Later we discovered that in changing $2053 into Vietnamese dong, Travelex took a total of $522. Yes 25 per cent – and we have the receipt to prove it.

When we contacted Travelex we were fed some nonsense about the cost of clearing the currency and how much can it cost to clear Aussie dollars in Australia.

Nigel Dawson, Windsor, VIC

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