A PLUS FOR ANA
I've recently undertaken five journeys with ANA (Sydney-Haneda return, Hong Kong-Haneda return and Haneda-Sapporo one-way). The first four flights were on Boeing 787s and the last on a Boeing 777. The trips to and from Sydney were premium economy as overnighters and the last three were economy in the daytime. Two things stand out about the premium economy experience on ANA.
The seat layout and comfort is the best I have experienced on an airline. For the first time I didn't arrive at the destination after a nine hour plus flight with a sore backside. The second was I could use the Air New Zealand Lounge in Sydney and the ANA Lounge prior to departure.
That meant I could have a few drinks and some food before boarding the aircraft and then use time on the aircraft for resting, not waiting for food service. The return economy flights to Hong Kong were efficient and pleasant experiences, as was the flight to Sapporo.
Barry Frost, Darlington, NSW
LETTER OF THE WEEK
COBBLESTONE THE CROWS
In response to Sam Brando's letter condemning cobblestones (Traveller letters, November 30), we have just returned from a wonderful five week holiday covering Europe (Switzerland, Portugal and Spain), Asia (Singapore) and Cuba. In all of these countries, cobblestones are a common paving material. The irony is, that in the "pedestrian only" sections (read: more tourists) of many cities (Havana, Trinidad, Porto, Lisbon and Coimbra) cobblestone paving is de rigueur.
The only city not to use cobblestones was Hong Kong, but on this trip, random bricks served as the pedestrian obstacles. Yes, cobblestones are a challenge but the need is to allow for this, as best you can, when travelling, especially if you have mobility issues.
Philip Smith, Waterloo, NSW
I INK THEREFORE I AM
While I agree in principle with David Gordon (Traveller letters, November 30) that memories are the best souvenirs, I need something tangible to help jog those memories. So wherever I go, be it at home or overseas, I pick up a pen as a memento, the crazier and sillier the better. Pens are cheap, take up virtually no space in your luggage, can be found just about everywhere, and each one is a great memory trigger. I now have a large collection of pens, each one with a story attached that brings fond memories of where it was purchased.
Susan O'Neill, Cranebrook, NSW
SHARE AND SHARE ALIKE
Thank you Elspeth Callender and Jamie Brown for the "Art of sharing food" article. It was outstanding - both the words and the illustration. It vividly brought back memories of these amazing experiences for both of us.
Janelle and Jean-Luc Tisserand, Armidale, NSW
PUT IT ON ICE
Whilst I have always admired the beauty and majesty of the Antarctic (Traveller, November 23) and for many years it was one of those destinations on my bucket list. It no longer is on my list, as I now believe there are some places that should be off-limits to tourism.
Over the past few years, we have seen the negative impact that the influx of tourists has had on popular destinations and it would be a travesty to see somewhere so pristine destroyed just so we can tick the boxes on that list. Travel to these destinations has become so much more accessible, both physically and financially, it would only take a few rogue operators, particularly as the industry is currently self-regulated and not all operators are signatory to these agreements, to cause irreparable damage. Some places should just be left to the researchers, the scientists and the wonderful wildlife.
Cathy Stapleton, Lake Tabourie, NSW
On a recent cruise with Diamond Princess, I lost my expensive prescription eyeglasses while transiting the cruise ship terminal immigration passport check in Xiamen, China. The terminal was crowded and there was a long queue for the passport check. Upon discovering the loss of my glasses, I immediately inquired with the local authorities, but without success.
When returning after the shore excursion, I inquired again at the Immigration terminal as to my lost glasses, and inquired at the cruise ship customer service, also without success. So, I asked for a "lost report" to claim from my travel insurance. The cruise ship customer service staff member was helpful, but I was instructed by his superior that they needed to conduct a security check, which turned out to be a complete search of our cabin and personal belongings.
They also requested photo, receipt and valuation of the lost glasses. All this humiliation and intrusive inspection came after repeatedly emphasising that my glasses were lost on shore and not on the ship. Do people normally carry photos and receipts of all valuables when travelling?
Ailsa Kupsch, Bairnsdale, VIC
Nick Inatey (Traveller letters, November 30), you are stretching the context. I searched all available information, including the Virgin website, and lounge times were not published. At the airport, all of their desks were closed, so there was no localised enquiry point. In our five-hour layover, we were changing airlines, so we allowed two hours for processing plus an hour for "nervous" margins.
For the two-hour balance, not all people would traipse around transport systems and large cities strange to them. The lounge would have been perfect for us and many others.
Brian Jones, Leura, NSW
Jason Azucena (Traveller letters, November 30) notes that Thai immigration officials require arrivals to fill in the name, address and phone number of their accommodation on the arrival form. Having had this problem many years ago when arriving with no accommodation organised prior to arrival, I was tipped off by a more experienced traveller. The officials require the form to be completed, but they are not particularly concerned with what you write, so generally the name of any well known hotel or hotel chain and any phone number will suffice.
Ian Campbell, Blackburn South, VIC
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