Good luck David Mackinnon (Traveller letters, November 17). I took Commonwealth Bank travellers cheques in Australian dollars to my local branch but was told to take them into their main bank in Sydney.
But the young tellers there had never seen or heard of such archaic things. Their phone call to someone to the bowels of the bank eventually solved the problem.
I couldn't get cash but the balance could be deposited in an account, while the Amex ones were cashed with no trouble.
Ann Eskens, Crows Nest, NSW
LETTER OF THE WEEK: WHAT A GALLE
I guess it's all a matter of where and when in respect to Stacey Laing's letter "What a Waste" (Traveller letters, November 17) as we had a great time over three weeks in Sri Lanka in April.
We were surprised at how relatively clean the country is, at least by other Asian destination standards. An Indian couple we met in Galle were raving about how clean it was compared to home.
We didn't go to the beach at Cape Weligama, but we did spend time on the ocean beaches at Batticaloa and Tangalle and both were pretty clean, beautiful places.
As far as getting around, we found travelling by road through cities, country towns and rural areas pretty interesting and all part of the adventure, despite the potholes, buses, tuk-tuks, traffic congestion and honking horns.
It was great to see the vibrant life of the place as we passed through. We also travelled by rattle trap trains, and while not like being on the Orient Express, it was all a bit of a hoot, and again part of the experience.
Finally we enjoyed a great afternoon at the Udawallada National Park. And yes, there were people and Jeeps, although not nearly as many as 40 in one place I must admit, and all seemingly respectful of the park, but somehow being a tourist myself I did not expect to be the only person there. The animals seemed happy enough.
Unfortunately tourism can put a strain on a country's infrastructure, but if you're a tourist yourself you need to go with the flow and try to minimise your own footprint – perhaps by putting up with a little inconvenience here and there and enjoying being an observer of life as it is lived away from the comforts of home.
Peter Burton, South Melbourne, VIC
WHAT A GALLE II
Sorry, but you can't let Stacey Laing be so critical of Sri Lanka in such a general way. To say "while the beaches are picturesque, they are filthy", is so wrong and makes out that every beach is filthy.
We spent time at some beaches where the water was crystal clear, with turtles joining us for the swim. Sure, there were beaches that were not so good but you should just do your homework.
And the national park we visited had heaps of elephants and lots of other wildlife. And bouncing around in a Jeep travelling between towns, with so much fascinating and different scenery outside the window, what could be better.
Rae Masman, Church Point, NSW
Qantas status credits reflect the number of times you fly, the distances and booking level (Traveller letters, December 1). All frequent flyers lose their status credits annually. Achieving silver will not give you access to Qantas lounges.
If you wish to access the lounges occasionally you could use points to upgrade to business class on one of the legs. This would allow access. Be aware, however, that the access relates to the upcoming flight not the one you have completed.
Kevin Hoy, McKellar, ACT
Nina Karnikowski profiled some exhilarating aquatic attractions in South Australia ("Swimming with lions", Traveller, December 8). But that's not all. On the Eyre Peninsula, visitors can also hand-feed and swim with tuna.
Having swum with sea lions in Baird Bay, a decade ago, I was delighted to recall such a memorable eco-tourism experience. You can watch humans swimming with these playful and curious sea creatures on a video at bairdbay.com.
I also swam with dolphins there. Do it. One more challenge to be ticked off the obligatory "bucket list".
Mike Fogarty, Weston, ACT
Like Catherine Marshall (Traveller, December 8), I recently experienced first-hand the hospitality and generosity of Iranians.
Initially we familiarised ourselves with how things work in Iran by joining a small group tour, Yomadic. We then travelled independently and at a slower pace for another two weeks.
People called out "welcome to Iran", bought us coffee, handed over small gifts and stopped to chat. We left our passports at a hotel. The receptionist tracked us down on a local bus, called the attendant who brought the phone to us.
The bus attendant then arranged for a bus to wait for us at the next stop to return to Kashan and collect our passports. No stress and easy as.
Unfortunately, the recently updated federal government travel advisory which states "Reconsider your need to travel" will put even more travellers off. Note that the same advice is given for Egypt and Venezuela, where many wouldn't hesitate to visit.
Go to Iran and see for yourself.
Joanne Karcz, Dangar Island, NSW
LAKES LESS TRAVELLED
What a shame Brian MacDonald didn't get off the well worn tourist track from Keswick to Windermere in the Lake District (Traveller letters, November, 24).
As a lifetime visitor to the Lakes, from childhood to my 70s I can recommend the lesser known areas on the fringes of the national park that are stunningly beautiful, peaceful and without the crowds of the more publicised towns.
As with most popular tourist destinations, a little research goes a long way. For me the Lake District is my favourite place in the world.
Janet Murphy, Balnarring, VIC
I am not surprised to hear about problems with Melbourne Airport's lost property office (Traveller letters, December 8). While returning to Sydney I left a coat in Melbourne which I found was in lost property.
However, they refused to answer multiple emails where I asked how I could get it returned to me (I suggested I could send a self-addressed prepaid parcel envelope).
And it's impossible to talk to somebody – one just leaves a number and they are supposed to call back, which doesn't happen. I find it amazing that an airport would not have a system to return items interstate, as half of the items must not be from locals.
Elizabeth Barr, Newtown, NSW
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