TIP OF THE WEEK: OFF WITH THE BIRDS
Following your wonderful article on the birdlife of Tanzania I would encourage others to “look up”. The wonder in the skies and trees is breathtaking. As an amateur twitcher I would recommend quality binoculars (at least 8 x 42 or 10 x 42) but more specifically a knowledgeable guide for the country you are visiting. Also it is easy to buy a field guide when you arrive in any country as I did in Sri Lanka. Their beautiful little bee-eaters and giant painted storks or the toucans and macaws of Brazil have enthralled me. Pheasants darting about hedges in quiet English lanes, kingfishers diving upon prey in Asia or the brilliant red cardinals on the verandah of my ex-pat home in Pennsylvania – all are a wonder. You don’t have to go far though. The lyrebirds at Wentworth Falls fossicking around the car park or the nesting galahs right here in Sydney are there for all. Look up, people, to the heavens!
Sally Spurr, Longueville, NSW
WINDOWS TO THE WORLD
I worked as cabin crew for British Airways (then BOAC) in the 1970s and was on the first course to train for Boeing 747 aircraft. I loved walking up and down the aisle with the sun streaming in the windows and chatting with passengers. Maybe we did have more time then, but it was also a fun part of the job. I still travel a lot and I always prefer a window seat so I can look out at the amazing cloud formations, storms, other aircraft (at a distance), mountains such as the Himalayas, deserts, ships on the water and more. I hate closing the blinds in daytime and feeling closed in. Wayne Robinson (Tip-o-meter, March 25) you don’t know what you are missing!
Pamela Kamula, Gladesville, NSW
FAIR EXCHANGE 1
Increasingly when you travel you’re offered to pay in your local currency if using a credit card. Sometimes you’re not even asked – just presented with a bill in Australian dollars (or your home currency). This happened to me at Bangkok airport. I had read this was a trap and cost more so normally refuse it. I made them cancel the AUD charge and recharge my card in Thai baht. It was $169 when charged in AUD then $159 when recharged in THB. This deserves some attention by regulators as it’s clearly misleading and gouging the average punter. Until that happens be sure to insist on a bill in the local currency.
Stephen Dawson, Newtown, NSW
FAIR EXCHANGE 2
Regarding Philip Myers’ letter about getting your exchange done before leaving the country (Tip-o-meter, April 1), it all depends on which country you are going to. For example, for Singapore, you are much better off exchanging your money there with a money changer at Lucky Plaza or on Orchard Road, for example. The exchange rate is heaps better than here. However, for Japan, it is wiser to exchange in Australia first because the rate is better here. If you go to TravelOz money exchange, it will price-match any rate you have and give you a better rate to match. Safe travels.
Paula Yeo, West Melbourne, Vic
Recently my wife and I were booked on a Virgin flight to Adelaide from Melbourne. The flight was due to leave at 2:40pm on a Saturday and due to roadworks delaying us, we arrived at the terminal at 2:10pm. As we only had carry-on luggage, my wife went to check-in at one of the booths only to be advised that the flight had closed. We then went to the service desk, where we waited 10 minutes to be served, to then be advised that the flight had closed and we would not be able to board. We were then advised that they would book us on the next available flight and there would an additional fee of $150 for each of us.
Since then, I have been advised by a client of mine that he experienced the same treatment. In his case he arrived at the terminal 40 minutes before his flight, joined the queue to check in and as it took more than 10 minutes for him to get to the counter, when he did get there was advised that the flight was closed and that he would be booked on the next flight at a cost of $150.
These experiences and the gouging of traveller’s finances not only affect the goodwill of Virgin but create ill will.
Richard Sykes, Lara, Vic
GO WITH THE FLOW
Regarding the letter about the loss of deposit on a river cruise, this is not the practice on all river boats as stated. We should applaud the good companies. We had a similar problem with a Scenic cruise booked for this year. Scenic was excellent and refunded all but $500 each of the deposit, to cover its costs. We have previously found Scenic to be a company that goes the extra mile for customers and this confirmed it.
Adrian Avis, Riverview, NSW
IN THE FRAME
On the basis of Belinda Jackson’s article about The Frames at Paringa near Renmark (Traveller, March 12), my husband and I stayed there and it was a wonderful experience. The accommodation (Pastiche) was perfect with the bedroom looking out on the Murray River. There was everything there one could possibly want – including a sauna and pool.The staff were friendly, and the highlight was Rick taking us out on the Murray for six hours, exploring the different creeks and having lunch on a secluded bank. Altogether it was a wonderful two days, and we would definitely recommend staying there. Paringa is only a three-hour drive from Adelaide.
Susie Crivelli, Whale Beach, NSW
In December we recently undertook our seventh trip to Europe and strongly recommend this time of year to visit Europe; it was a magical atmosphere with Christmas markets, the bracing cold weather, heartwarming food and especially the lack of crowds!
Rhoda Silber, Manly, NSW