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Monday, March 4, 2024

A moment’s mistake cost me more than $2000

Vietnam ease

I’ve just returned from an unforgettable holiday in Vietnam and Cambodia and, in response to Lee Tulloch’s column on airline safety videos (Traveller, January 16), feel I must put in a vote for the fabulous Vietnam Airlines in-flight safety film. Catchy Vietnamese music and a group of dancers perform a mesmerising routine to demonstrate the various safety aspects in a variety of beautiful locations. Made me look forward to flying each leg of our journey, and I’ve now found it on YouTube to remind me of this quirky aspect of a great trip. They also show a fantastic Vietnamese cooking demonstration in miniature that even impressed my 19-year-old son. The airline was excellent in all respects as well and I highly recommend them.
David Cleave, Northbridge, NSW

Turned away at the inn

Two days before Christmas last year my great nephew arrived in Melbourne after a 20-hour flight from Milan, Italy. His mother had booked a room online for the night at the Ibis Airport hotel. He was to be driven to Tocumwal, NSW, the next day, where he was to spend two weeks staying with his aunts and cousins. On arrival at the hotel he was refused admission, he was 17, one month short of his 18th birthday on January 20. His limited English was cause for confusion and he left in search of somewhere else to stay, but was refused on the same grounds. I called Ibis to speak to the manager but was told to email her, which I did. Her reply? It is the law that no unaccompanied people aged under 18 are allowed.
Geraldine Hare, Port Melbourne, Vic

Good and bad

Changi Airport - passport control effortless.

Changi Airport – passport control effortless.Credit: iStock

We were lucky enough to spend time in the UK, France and Singapore over the school holidays. The good: the French and English rail system. Fast, efficient, reliable (on one day we had six trains to catch and every one was on time and easy to find) and the Morzine and Avoriaz ski resorts. Simply incredible was Singapore’s passport control. So quick. The bad? Sydney Airport passport control and trying to use frequent flyer points to upgrade on Qantas flights.
Jo Lees, Rockdale, NSW

Border farce

On its website the Port Authority of NSW says in its plan for the future that a key outcome is a commitment to higher levels of customer service. We have just returned from back- to-back cruises on Celebrity Edge. On January 3, after completing the first sector to New Zealand, the Edge returned to Sydney. As we were in transit on back-to-back cruises we were required to leave the ship by Australia’s Border Force who are responsible for our national security. This process took from 9am to 1.30pm while we waited for immigration and the checking-in of new passengers for the upcoming cruise to the Pacific Islands. With no regard for our comfort, we were forced to sit in the terminal with the cold air-conditioning blasting full force at us. Terminal staff who were extremely helpful told us that they had complained about the freezing conditions in the terminal for years.
Janet and Frank Gardner, Pyrmont, NSW

No dough from Doha

I sympathise with your reader’s frustration with Qatar Airways (Traveller Letters, January 20). We had to cancel a month-long trip to the UK when Australia’s border closed in 2020 and managed to recoup all our costs (a Cosmos Ireland tour, car-hire, accommodation in Scotland and London and rail fares), except for flights. Qatar readily kept $3000 of our business class fares, even though our government’s implementation of the biosecurity act at that time meant that it was impossible to fly. We no longer fly with them.
Kerrie Wehbe, Blacktown, NSW

Tip of the week: City of fright

The scooters that ate Paris.

The scooters that ate Paris.Credit: iStock

My husband and I recently enjoyed a holiday in Paris, however I would like to warn fellow travellers if you are going to Paris to be careful when crossing the road. You assume that when you get a green walk sign at pedestrian crossings that all is well, but you then step into a bike lane and they are coming at you from both directions along with e-scooters and they don’t always stop. When you navigate that lane you enter another one on the other side of the road before stepping on to the footpath on that side. They are very dangerous, especially in poor light or if you have small children with you.
Narelle Geran, Avalon Beach, NSW

EDITOR’S NOTE We’ve love to hear other readers’ tips about dangers in other cities around the world. Write to us below and we’ll publish the most useful and interesting advice.

Appy days

Have recently returned from an overseas holiday, including some days in Prague, and wanted to mention that on all of Prague’s excellent public transport system, travellers aged over 65 years travel free. This applies not just to locals, but visitors as well, as long as you carry identification (in our case, NSW driving licences which show a date of birth). Another fantastic aid while availing ourselves of this wonderful free travel in Prague was the Citymapper app. It proved invaluable while negotiating signs in a difficult-to-pronounce language comprising more consonants than vowels. It was also extremely useful for us as first-timers in London, enabling us to catch the wonderful red buses to all the places we needed to go.
Yvonne Molloy, Ashfield, NSW

Stolen moment

It’s January, 2024, and three seasoned travellers arrive in Barcelona. Reach accommodation minus one wallet, despite warnings of Barcelona street-crime. Lessons learned: don’t travel on the Metro in peak hour with suitcases. Always return your wallet to your security bag, not your pocket, as I did. Keep your driver’s licence – a key document – separate from cards and assume pickpockets will try it on. Positives: cards were cancelled immediately and were replaced, within hours, by virtual cards. No passports were lost and any disruption was mainly due to the loss of the driving licence. Regardless, Barcelona delighted in every other way. I will return.
Anne Conlon, Summer Hill, NSW

Don’t get riel

My experience was different from a recent correspondent regarding currency in Cambodia (Traveller Letters, January 13). I found that everywhere preferred US dollars over the local riel for payment. This included major tourist attractions and also shops. Most places published prices in US dollars and only converted to riels if asked. The only services that preferred local currency were tuk tuks and taxis.

Tuktuks in Cambodia prefer the local currency.

Tuktuks in Cambodia prefer the local currency.Credit: iStock

I’d also recommend getting a local SIM at the airport and downloading PassApp which is a Cambodian taxi app. It allows point-to-point selection on the map and avoids the need for price haggling by quoting you the fare before you get in. I found this a really valuable tool in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
Angus McLeod, Cremorne, Vic

On a roll

While the history and the description of the Chiko Roll, provided by Ben Groundwater, was interesting for me as someone who grew up with this snack in the ’70s (Traveller, January 21), his comment that it is “the ultimate Australian foodstuff … there is nothing more Australian” is rather ignorant. To qualify for that epithet, it would have to be bush tucker, right?
Kerrie Wehbe, Blacktown, NSW

Appreciation society

Most who have travelled Australia agree that our country is a unique place to experience natural wonders (Traveller, January 21). International visitors clearly rave about the Indigenous culture and beauty surrounding Uluru, appreciate our diverse wildlife, and adore our stunning coastal landscapes, beaches and the Great Barrier Reef. Reading the insights in your cover story about international travel agents was an important reminder. How fortunate we are to have such natural beauty on our doorstep. Fellow Aussie travellers, let’s celebrate, appreciate and protect the wonders of Australia’s environment for all the years to come.

Amy Hiller, Kew, Vic

The Letter of the Week writer wins three Hardie Grant travel books. See hardiegrant.com

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