CLEARING THE AIR
As Daniel Nolan mentioned (Traveller letters, March 23), rather than going to airbnb.com.au always search for the name of the Airbnb property elsewhere to avoid paying the hefty fee it charges. Airbnb does not even scale down its commission.
If you are staying in an expensive property, say $5000 over a week or so, you are paying about $900 to Airbnb. I think it's disgusting it takes so much. No other site, such as homeaway or booking.com, charges as much as it does.
Also try searching through the photos for a direct contact number, too – generally means the owner is happy to deal direct.
Rae Masman, Church Point, NSW
THE HEAT IS ON
If you are like me you seem to take some in-room messages and cards for granted. There are the usual conservation notices, towels and the like, along with placing the shower curtain inside the bath.
On a recent stay, however, I came across one I had not seen before: a universal red circle and diagonal line across a fork and knife, followed by the words "No food allowed in the kettle/For water only/Charges may apply for replacing the kettle".
It makes me wonder, what have people been using the kettle for – heating soup, poaching an egg, cooking pasta or boiling rice? Whatever they have been doing they were probably in their element.
Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW
EDITOR'S NOTE It may be certain overzealous foreign visitors to Australia who have a liking for reverse room service and therefore resort to the most common implement that could possibly be used for cooking. Have any of our other readers come across signs of other strange hotel room practices? Please keep them clean.
I took the ferry from Wellington on the North Island of New Zealand last year across the Cook Strait to Picton on the South Island.
Picton is a lovely place to stop for a couple of days and when I was walking along its waterfront, after having come back from a half-day small boat tour spotting seals, dolphins and turtles, I was just about to take a picture of the peace memorial arch for fallen soldiers.
A small girl started doing acrobatics on the handrail in front of the arch and at first I was annoyed that she was in the way as I waited for her to finish and go. But then I realised it was the perfect image of freedom and peace.
It stands out more so now after the recent Christchurch mass shooting.
Jenny Macaffer, Aberfeldie, VIC
I'm rising to the challenge put by Danny McIvor (Traveller letters, March 3) for fellow readers to pen more raves and less rants.
My husband and I spent five weeks in Canada last year. We decided before we left to be "easily pleased", and that meant that disappointing meals, dodgy accommodation, drizzly days and the like were to be shrugged off, laughed at or stored up as good stories for later.
But we did nearly come unstuck. The jewel in the crown of our trip was to be the drive, through breathtaking scenery, over the Cape Breton Highlands in Nova Scotia but the hurricane sweeping along from the US derailed our plans, with gale-force winds and then snow.
That magnificent drive was a white-out. I'll confess – we were very disappointed. But the next day, which was fine, was one of the highlights of the whole trip.
We took a short drive to a trail and then a 90-minute walk through a snowy wonderland right up to the top of a mountain.
There was a 360-degree view taking in sea, snowy peaks and valleys blazing with autumn leaves. It was absolutely magic, and without the bad weather, we never would have experienced it.
Susan Green, Castlemaine, VIC
In reference to the letter "Fine Times" (Traveller letters, March 23) regarding travel scams – in 2016, our bus tour to Halong Bay in Vietnam was interrupted by police.
While the driver was with the police, one policeman walked along the 20-seat bus clearly counting the number of passengers (six). The fine was supposedly for crossing double lines some kilometres back.
The driver asked for proof and was told that the camera evidence would take two days to arrive. The fine was paid and passengers contributed later.
Patricia Brennan, North Arm Cove, NSW
We had a similar experience to your reader India when travelling in a minibus on the highway between Agra and Jaipur. I believe it's a relatively common experience in some Asian countries, and that tourist vehicles are deliberately targeted.
Janine Lucato, Buninyong, VIC
In 1990 a student of mine travelled to Germany on an exchange program. I sent her with some money to purchase a fragment of the Berlin Wall which subsequently sat on my desk at work for some 25 years, so I was very familiar with the colour combination of the paintwork.
Imagine my surprise when I recently revisited Berlin and found the remaining section of the wall not far from Checkpoint Charlie. It seems this was the exact section from which my prized souvenir was chiselled all those years ago.
Dave Rabi, Ocean Grove, VIC
As a frequent work traveller, I am regularly stopped for swabbing at security in Australian airports and I've usually found this to be a quick, efficient and friendly process.
The new practice of being swabbed in groups of three, as your reader Robert Postema pointed out (Traveller letters, March 16), however, is much less friendly and far more time-consuming.
At Perth T4 recently the process involved a lengthy explanation, instructions to move away from our carry-on and some awkward fussing about the order in which we were to stand.
We were informed that in the event of a positive result, individual testing would commence. We were further told not to touch our carry-on until the test was complete or it would begin again. Individual testing, in contrast, takes somewhere between 25 and 40 seconds.
While the new process may mean fewer swabs are used (and I am not too concerned about cross-contamination), it is difficult to see how the new regime will result in time-saving or in a greater number of passengers being tested.
Rob Cover, Nedlands, WA
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