EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN
My wife and I just flew Thai Airlines business class to Hanoi. We were advised that the 747s were old, had not been upgraded and that the seats were terrible. I'm 201 centimetres tall and weigh 140 kilograms and I cannot recline in the "pods" that are now in most business class sections. I am crammed into these pods and am damned uncomfortable in them. Whoever designed these cells has a lot to answer for. On our old plane flight with the old plane seats, I had more leg room than I have enjoyed for quite a number of years, and the seats were not uncomfortable. Viva old, long may it live.
Patrick McIntosh, Bathurst NSW
LETTER OF THE WEEK
Ramen is indeed an important and nutritious food item when travelling in Japan (Traveller, November 30), but it can also be a very personal and satisfying culinary experience if you find the right one for you. To make it slightly more difficult to decide which one to choose, there are several Ramen streets, or alleys, in different parts of Japan. The one I recently discovered is called Ganso Sapporo Ramen Street, in Hokkaido. It is a little alleyway devoted entirely to ramen. There are 13 noodle shops here, each a bit different from its neighbour. It's at the Susukino intersection and easy to find. Good luck choosing where to slurp your noodles.
Margot Pope, Glenbrook, NSW
WHAT A CROC
I wish to take issue with Julie Miller who states in her cover story "Kakadu at the Crossroads", (Traveller, December 7) that the "Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel [is] the most luxurious accommodation within Kakadu National Park". I can assure you it is anything but luxurious. Having stayed there recently as part of an organised tour this place is reminiscent of a poor quality 1960s back-road two star motel. Our room was decidedly tacky from the carpets to the curtains. The bedside table had the front hanging off, signs of power switches moved but not mended, the bathroom old and mouldy. Outside the general impression was lack of care with leaves everywhere and stained tiles in public areas. This place is a disgrace and it is embarrassing to think overseas visitors are exposed to such facilities. However, I do agree with Julie that Kakadu National park urgently requires an upgrade and ongoing care to attract visitors.
Jan Waddington, Mona Vale, NSW
WHEN TOULOUSE IS TO WIN
On a recent trip through south central France, my wife and I were unexpectedly faced with a rolling transport strike. We were planning to travel by rail from Toulouse to both Rodez and Albi. Checking the train schedule the day before re-assured us but, alas, the next day the transport strike had commenced. My wife, who is irritatingly optimistic in these situations, suggested that we move away from the SNCF French rail system and try a company called Blah Blah Car. Within two hours we were offered four different options for car travel the next day to Albi. Our obligation was to meet with our driver who, as it transpired, was an English folk musician living in Toulouse, outside her home and she would take us to Albi for €7 each. The next day we did meet and our trip, although somewhat circuitous, was very enjoyable. Unlike Uber, this ride sharing service is more personal and far more casual. So named for the level of chat that goes on during the trip, Blah Blah Car will always be an option for us in France when the otherwise brilliant rail system is unavailable (for up to date information regarding all things French, including actual and pending industrial disruption, may I suggest thelocal/fr).
Les Lambert, Wangaratta, NSW
SHARE AND SHARE ALIKE
Your correspondent questions the value to readers of published letters (Letters, December 7) covering (inter alia) snorers, Aussies with tattoos and passengers with low flying zips. Surely this gentleman should appreciate that the travelling public is a broad church and experiences, the good, the bad and sometimes indifferent, need be shared. Such are the little things in life that make this column all the richer.
Alan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW
FADED ROCK STAR
Brian Johnston's brief visit to and views about Gibraltar (Traveller, December 7) exactly mirror our experience a couple of months ago. We decided to take a shopping tour to the Rock while driving around the southern and western parts of Spain and it was just as he has described. Faded glory, a determined face and finger towards Spain and one of the drabbest high streets imaginable. As for the shopping, best described as disappointing. Lunch was tired English fish and chips in one of the many "English pubs". On the credit side, however, we did discover the Botanical Gardens and Fauna Refuge which were well worth visiting. Having already visited such beautiful world heritage sites as Cuenca and Ronda as well as the lovely Mediterranean town of Calpe with its own magnificent rock, Gibraltar was quite a contrast.
Ken Baumber, Coffs Harbour, NSW
SHOW SOME RESPECT
Like Neil Hendry (Letters, December 7), we also sat next to a large man taking the aisle seat in a three seat configuration for a 14 hour flight. I was pleased that he introduced himself but a little worried when he said he would sleep the whole journey but to nudge him when we needed to stretch our legs. The lesson here is to introduce yourself, be kind and respectful. Everyone has to endure the economy class and consideration makes the journey so much better.
Michael Copping, Oatley, NSW
On a recent trip to Uluru, Avis contacted me on the morning of my departure to advise my pre-booked rental car would be unavailable in Yulara township at the time booked for collection. When Avis staff realised I was still in Melbourne and hadn't arrived in Yulara yet, they told me it would be better for them if I collected a car on arrival at Ayers Rock Airport instead. I agreed to this. Two weeks later, I discovered an additional charge for $120 from Avis on my credit card. When I queried this, I was told it was for the extra time I used the car and for the premium airport pick-up point. I urge others to ensure they get written confirmation of any deviations to rental car bookings to avoid this same problem.
Marina Kelly, South Yarra, VIC