In response to Rod Sullivan (Traveller letters, January 6) regarding the chaotic boarding of airline aircraft: the amount of cabin baggage allowed on our recent Etihad flight to Europe was insane. We had to put our one small backpack way down the end as people had used up all the space near us.
One woman, with her oversized bag plus heaps of shopping bags, couldn't even get down the aisle but the flight staff said it was allowed. Really, why do some people need to travel with so much stuff?
Deb Sykes, Lane Cove, NSW
LETTER OF THE WEEK: A DAY TO REMEMBER
Remember the days when Aussies would visit orphanages in Cambodia in blissful ignorance that many of these children in fact had families who were deceived into thinking their children would receive a good education? Thankfully, more travellers are now interested in responsible tourism.
We've just come back from a trip in Laos and Cambodia. We did a few activities supported by HUSK Cambodia which is a registered NGO founded by a Melbourne couple now residing in Siem Reap. One such activity was called "Day in a life ...". We spent a day visiting the Lady Bird Village in Siem Reap and helping a poor family. The activities vary according to the time of year and also depend on the needs of the particular family at the time. In our case, we sat under a palm tree sewing dried palm leaves onto a bamboo rod.
The resourcefulness of the Cambodian people was highlighted when they explained that the thread was a young (supple) palm leaf which had a tin sheath fashioned over the tip to improvise as a needle. The end result was a panel that was to be used to build a kitchen for the family.
It was not exactly a comfortable activity as we were bitten by ants and the sewing was quite tricky, not to mention the heat and humidity. This family needed 400 panels. We only managed to make 11 panels but it was very rewarding as we saw exactly how the panels would be used given all houses were built by laying overlapping panels.
Later that day, we also visited a school which is run by HUSK to teach children English. Learning English is crucial if the locals want a better life, as tourism is one of the biggest industries in Cambodia. I wanted to spread the word. .
Sandy Morris, Balwyn North, VIC
Responsible tourism helps improve the lives of locals in Siem Reap province, Cambodia. Photo: Alamy
THE GIFT OF GIVING
At the end of a month-long trip to southern India, I gave several courses of antibiotics – that thankfully I did not need to use – to a hospital in Bangalore. The medication would be offered to patients who could not afford to pay for prescription drugs.
In our bustling whirlwind of a trip, I refilled my water bottles with cooled boiled water, which reduces plastic.
A single piece of hotel soap served its purpose at every one of the 15 places we stayed. Local guides at our various stops in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka made our travel more immersive.
Our aspiration to travel sustainably can be more meaningfully fulfilled by small and simple daily habits that leave the places we visit as unsullied as possible.
Joseph Ting, Carina, QLD
After reading an article by Traveller writer Ben Groundwater several months ago, my wife altered our Spanish itinerary and substituted Hondarribia for San Sebastian.
I would advise anyone travelling to the Basque country to look at this gem of a town. It is much smaller in size and tourist numbers than San Sebastian, the pintxos bars are just as good and the French town of Hendaye is just a 10-minute ferry ride away. San Sebastian is only a 30-minute bus drive away.
Peter Miniutti, Ashbury, NSW
Since taking a recent cruise to Antarctica had such an enlightening environmental effect on Jamie Lafferty (Traveller, January 6) maybe it would be good if more people made such a visit.
As he wrote in awe, "as omnipotent as those icebergs seemed, they are, of course, vulnerable to climate change, too". However, sadly, voluntary travel by ships, and also planes, generates massive carbon emissions which are not offset by buying carbon credits.
Barbara Fraser, Burwood, VIC
I must thank Singapore Airlines for getting me home for Christmas. I had a reservation that got me into Sydney on December 24 but I had a meeting cancellation in London and went straight to Heathrow without a booking that night (cap in hand). Singapore Airlines found me a seat and organised a tight connection in Singapore to Sydney, and I got home one day early.
Steven Capper, Mosman, NSW
I have flown with Tiger several times over the years, largely without incident. I only have high praise for their service.
However, my flight from Melbourne to Adelaide on September 15 last year was cancelled at the last minute and Tiger found a seat for me on their flight the next day.
As this was not acceptable to me, Tiger agreed to refund the $125 fare within 10 days. I am still waiting. Is this experience shared by others? How can I get my money back?
Reena Iyer, Templestowe, VIC
Moira Heath is wrong in her assertion that "all hotels in New York City must have restroom facilities in their lobby areas for use by the general public".
There is no NYC law requiring such a convenience. A quick review of several reputable NYC guides show sections on where to find toilets, and none make this claim. As in any city, if you are well dressed and walk into a hotel lobby like you belong there, you may quietly find a toilet and use it. You may even be directed to a restroom if you ask, but you may also be turned away if asked to show a room key you do not have. In any event, NYC hotel toilets are by no means public restrooms.
Robert Lang, Toorak, VIC
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