TIP OF THE WEEK
BORDERING ON DESPAIR
Never assume anything. Especially when travelling. We recently we took a wonderful APT cruise down the mighty Mekong River from Cambodia through to Saigon in Vietnam and I obtained e-visas for both countries.
Halfway through our cruise we stopped at the border between Cambodia when our cruise director, the highly-efficient Tu, said, "We have a bit of a problem."
On my application I had got one digit of my passport number wrong and so I could not proceed to Vietnam because the visa did not match my passport. "But they approved the visa in Australia", I said.
However, they don't amend or issue new visas on the river and land borders in Vietnam, particularly on a Friday evening. Tu swung into action and a plan was devised.
It required me to leave the cruise early the next day and be driven to Phnom Penh where we would try and get the correct documentation from the Australian embassy.
APT would not leave a passenger to manage this alone so I was accompanied by the boat's Purser, Minh, If all went well, I would then fly to Saigon to apply for a new visa. Assuming that would be successful, they'd book me a hotel where I could wait a couple of days until I could rejoin my wife when she arrived in Saigon, for the last two nights of the tour.
At 6am Tu knocked on our cabin door to say a small boat was arriving to take me ashore. Minh and I took a taxi back to the border. Minh had to sort out the paperwork and asked me to wait.
Four hours later he returned to say a new visa had been issued. If we hurried we could probably still catch the RV Amalotus before she sailed down the Mekong. It was a crazy taxi ride back down the track, but we boarded our boat just in time for lunch.
John Martin, Lilyfield, NSW
Since early June, in the busy summer peak times, I have cleared immigration at Heathrow three times with my flights arriving around 9.30pm.
It has taken around two hours to get through large immigration queues and my advice is don't prepay for a Heathrow Express as the last train is at around 11.50pm.
There is barely enough time to pick up luggage (allow more time than usual for this as the monitors showing where luggage can be picked up don't show earlier flight details) and get to the train.
Andrew Cooper, Seddon, VIC
BLOW YOUR TOP
As if the threat of volcanic eruptions weren't frustrating enough, travellers arriving in Bali have to put up with the X-raying of each bag before it is loaded for collection.
This means having to wait 90 minutes before luggage finally appears. When we first experienced this two years ago, we thought that it would improve with time but no such luck.
To add insult to injury, there is no seating to help make it easier for tired passengers. Limiting luggage to just carry on seems to be the only solution but not one that everyone would be happy with.
Jennifer McKay, Ashbury, NSW
Four years ago my husband and I had a virtually identical experience to Annie Warn (Traveller on Sunday, July 1), but on the Place Bellecour, in Lyon, France.
Our two thieves were obviously more amateurish, as luckily for us, I managed to grab back our money after it had been snatched out of my wallet.
We saw them again up to their old tricks in the Museum of Fine Arts the next day and reported them. Like Annie, we also found it very unnerving as we had also thought we had been so careful.
We kept well away from anyone waving a clipboard for the rest of our trip.
Jane Jilek, Castlecrag, NSW