Traveller reader letters: early birds in Delhi and Mumbai and Colditz Castle

TIP OF THE WEEK

EARLY BIRDS

I took two three-hour early morning tours in Delhi and Mumbai in India recently. Both of the tours were excellent because it was cooler, and the streets were traffic and tourist-free.

In Delhi, the charming Raj from Masterji Kee Haveli took us on an 8am visit to Old Delhi which included breakfast and ended with a tour and delicious home-cooked lunch at his co-founder's mansion (or haveli).

Mumbai saw a 5.30am start with the elegant Eugene from Bombay City India at the incredibly busy wholesale fish market on the docks where the traders are nearly all women.

Best of all was the wholesale flower market where the flowers are gorgeous and are sold by men from cupboard-size shops while women sit on the footpaths making garlands that they sell by the metre.

Heather Webb, Albert Park, VIC

MONKEY BUSINESS

In the first week of the school holidays we trekked from Perth to Monkey Mia, 850 kilometres to the north, where the daily appearance of dolphins is such that you may set your watch to it.

My wife feels oppressed if too far from water. The peninsula on which Monkey Mia sits in Shark Bay is unique in Western Australia in that at one moment the ocean appears off to your right and then you turn a corner and it is to your left.

Shell Beach, some 70 kilometres from Monkey Mia, is an eye-opener, even for the seasoned beach lover. The sand is a three-metre-deep pile of shell grit. Bring your polarised sunnies.

And, as it turns out, I now know I am oppressed by the absence of trees. The further north we went the smaller the trees got and they ran out altogether long before we got to Monkey Mia. Scrubby acacias, even if the area features nine different types, just don't cut it.

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The Monkey Mia campsite is modern and well appointed, but I've felt more at home at the old rundown ones – with trees.

Damien Matthews, Perth, WA

SILVER PININGS

I refer to Bettina Harris' letter (Tip-o-meter, April 7) about her journey to Broken Hill on the Xplorer train. I am a former Barrierite and this trip sounds much better than the old Silver City Comet of years ago.

The accompanying photo of Argent Street was nostalgic but for those who haven't yet been there, please also go and enjoy the many other sights. Go underground at the Delprat mine. Travel 20 kilometres west to Silverton and see the historic old pub, plus other sights.

Go about 10 kilometres further to the Umberumberka Reservoir lookout, the view over the Mundi Mundi plains is spectacular. Head east to Menindee, see the effects of the low water in the lakes and visit the Maidens Hotel to find out about its history.

Trevor Watkins, Dudley, NSW

RUNG OUT

With 699 steps, Jacob's Ladder is not for the faint-hearted. They start in the centre of Jamestown [Saint Helena] and were constructed in 1829 to aid in the transportation of ammunition up to the Hill Fort. Now they challenge the fitness of tourists, with a certificate for the fastest climb.

St Helena sits in the southern Atlantic Ocean and is famous as the island where Napoleon was exiled in 1815. There are two flights a week from Johannesburg, but it is best accessed by ship.

Jan Naughton, Wahroonga, NSW

ESCAPE TO COLDITZ

Yes, Wayne Robertson (Tip-o-meter, April 21), mass at Thomaskirche, Leipzig, is a great thing to do but to miss Colditz Castle was a mistake.

One of the most infamous Nazi World War II prisoner-of-war castles, Colditz, which sits on a rocky crag overlooking a small town, was considered escape-proof and held many who had tried, and failed, to escape.

In the small museum is a sewing machine, carved from wood, that prisoners used to adapt and make clothes from whatever was available, for their escape attempts.

The building, used as a hospital during the war, is now an excellent youth hostel (I stayed there). It was possible to take a tour and hear about escapes and attempts. Tragic and poignant but so worth a visit.

Jeanne James, Seaford, VIC

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