May 28, 2024

Travel In Bali

Travel & Tour Tips

The problem for travellers with using your phone as a credit card

The problem for travellers with using your phone as a credit card

HARD CASH

Like many, I store my credit card on my phone. When I was checking into a Sydney hotel recently, I wasn’t able to tap my phone for the required pre-authorisation fee. Luckily, my partner had a physical credit card on him. If I was travelling alone, I’d have had to provide a $100 deposit. But I don’t carry cash and without a physical card I can’t draw dollars from an ATM. Carrying a physical card defeats the object of storing my card on my phone.

Joanne Karcz, Dangar Island, NSW

LETTER OF THE WEEK

HAVANA SENT

Craig Tansley’s story (Traveller, December 15) brought back memories of our eight-day trip to Cuba in 2019. Rather than fly via the US or Canada, we flew via Madrid on Iberia Airlines (a flight of about 10 hours). There were few tourists in Cuba due to the US embargo, so getting around was easy. We felt safe and in Havana you can walk easily as most streets are closed to traffic. We had four nights in Havana staying at the Conde De Villanueva, a converted colonial house. We did a half-day walking tour of the old town, an architectural drive in a vintage convertible. The sound of music is everywhere – in doorways, on the street, in the plazas and bars (the best bargain was the $US10 barbecued lobster tails and a mojito). Go now.

Philip Smith, Waterloo, NSW

CUBAN SHUFFLE

As a frequent traveller to Cuba please allow me to make a few clarifications to your recent cover story on the country (Traveller, December 15). All flights from Canada do include in the price a Cuban Tourist Card and will be supplied either at check-in or on the plane. If travelling from the US you buy the card at the airport. It was stated in the article that “if travelling from the US” you can’t stay at a hotel as they are all owned by the government. It is true that, technically, US citizens are prevented by their government from staying at hotels but no-one has ever been charged for doing so. This prohibition certainly doesn’t apply to any other citizen who flies from the US. If travelling independently, budget $100 a day for accommodation, meals and transport and I do reiterate the advice to take cash rather than relying on bank cards and the warning about an ESTA being invalid for travel to the US following a trip to Cuba.

John Varley, Abbotsford, VIC

LOAD SHEDDING

I sympathise with Catherine Hall (Traveller Letters, January 14) about being offloaded from her flight. However passengers had likely already boarded and were seated. Therefore, most or all checked luggage would have also been loaded on the plane. At this point, pairing up passengers with their checked luggage would be quite difficult since checked luggage is not stored in an ordered fashion. So, to not disrupt all passengers, the logical solution would have been to inconvenience as few as possible. This would have been done by offloading passengers with no checked luggage. However, we don’t know if all of the passengers on the flight with no checked luggage were also offloaded. If not, one may well ask why an elderly woman was chosen.

Peter Car, Mont Albert Vic

RAW PRAWN

Two kilos of fresh Aussie red prawns from Sydney Fish Markets, enroute to the airport was my contribution to my 2022 New Zealand family Christmas celebrations, as managed, incident-free back in 2018. Packed in their ice-holding, leakproof, odour-proof bag ready for inspection, just like shoes and laptop so I was heartbroken to be told “no problem with the seafood, but you can’t take the ice packs [as provided by the Sydney Fish Markets]. They could be a weapon.” Really? My stiletto is more dangerous. And with that ill-considered decision my gift was doomed for the bin.

Carol L. McCoy, Blackheath, NSW

GO SLOW

Lee Tulloch (Traveller Letters, January 14) wrote of the “combination of no sleep, nerve-racking turbulence, illness, long security and immigration lines and the stress of missed connections” so many travellers have experienced in recent times. Don’t throw in the travel towel, though dear travellers.Go local. Get in the car at your leisure and drive to a gorgeous, tranquil destination. Soak up Australia’s beauty. Slow down. Connect to a place and its people. Abandon the hectic holiday and discover the joys of slow travel.

Karen Lamb, Geelong, NSW

BALI STILL BETTER

Malaysia’s Desaru Coast, as featured in your review of the Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas (Traveller, January 14) is indeed an emerging, but I’d say not yet ready, destination to accept tourists, en masse. For now, its target audience are local and Singaporean residents looking for a quick weekend getaway. It’s tough for others to get to Desaru. After your flight, it is still a four and a half hour drive from Kuala Lumpur or a two-hour ferry from Singapore or an unpredictable drive over the always congested Singapore-Malaysia Causeway. Our resort, The Westin, was simply not up to the task of handling peak season numbers from Singapore between Christmas and New Year. But I’m sure that in 12 months’ time they will be more equipped to handle peak season numbers with more established infrastructure and activities on the water. However, we did manage a quick trip to the Desaru Fruit Farm which – if only for the huge cheap mangoes – was quite a good activity with kids. If flying from Australia and picking between Desaru or the more established resort spots with direct flight access such as Bali, it’s still the latter.

Nick Inatey, Singapore

COUNT YOURSELF LUCKY

I was gobsmacked when I read the letter by Belinda Coombs (Traveller Letters, January 14) about never having been stranded by Qantas. Rewind to October 2011 when Qantas grounded its entire fleet over stalled pay negotiations with its unions, stranding 68,000 passengers worldwide. Then in March 2020, again Qantas ceased operations abandoning thousands of passengers worldwide who struggled to get alternative carriers to get them home, some taking months. If you haven’t been stranded by Qantas you’re one of the lucky ones.

Dave Cliff, Coopers Gully, NSW

WHERE ARE YOU GOING IN 2023?

Editor’s note: It was late last year that we asked our readers to reveal their travel plans for 2023, now that we can take off again and to mark this special edition of Traveller on Sunday. Here, then, is our pick of the responses with each published letter writer winning a copy of the Explore Australia 2023 (RRP $50), the latest edition of the longest-running and trusted travel guidebook, courtesy of Hardie Grant.

BACK TO SCHOOL

“You know trees can talk to one another?”…so sayeth Norbert, our dreadlocked, Zimbabwean safari guide, explaining that some plants can signal downwind on the African savanna that giraffes are approaching and it’s time to retract new shoots. A former primary school teacher who moved to wildlife tourism to survive, Norbert’s reverence for education remained and long treks from one safari camp to the next were often punctuated with visits to schools, none more meaningful than the one in his remote village. We were sufficiently moved to sponsor three youngsters who wrote to us of their academic progress twice a year. Suddenly, communications ceased during the pandemic. Only recently have we reconnected with Norbert. We’re planning to rejoin forces for wildlife tracking in Zimbabwe and Botswana in 2023. And, apart from savouring more stories from the swaggering hipster, we hope to visit a certain school.

Alan Hill, Toowoomba, Qld

HERE WE GO AGAIN

I meet people who say, been there, done that. I have ticked that box. Me? I love going back. Back to the same old box. Egypt three times, once watching Aida at the Pyramids with Omar Sharif welcoming Middle Eastern royalty and the rest of us. Greece too. At Easter, in summer and in winter. Why not? New Orleans to Chicago on a Blues Tour on Highway 61 stopping at every blues town on the way. I have been three times. It’s always different. Different juke joints, new friends, new experiences. Last time I broke my nose on a Chicago foot path. Now that was different. In 2003, I am off to the Verdi festival in Parma Northern Italy for the third time.I t was most enjoyable this year. Italy is back in business. Operas, large and small,special events and places. I met opera fans from the UK who go to the festival most years. Lucky them. It’s just down the road. For us Australians it’s a longer journey, nonetheless I have already booked my spot for next October’s festival. So,,sure been there and done that. And I’ll do it again. Again.

Ed Lagzdin, Brunswick West, Vic

HEAVEN IS HAVANA

After a lifetime of travel, our wishlist is down to a handful of places, including Cuba. Most tours treat Cuba as a brief add-on to Mexico, entering Mexico via the US. We have been to Mexico, and face an onerous visa procedure to transit the US because we have visited both Iraq and North Korea. Byroads Travel offer an extensive tour of Cuba and they suggest flying in via South America. This allows us to include brief stopovers to take in two more items on our wishlist: a flight over the Nazca Lines in Peru, and a day cruise through the Panama Canal.

Helene Juliff, Ashburton, Vic

TESTING TIMES

Our kids have finished school, we have sold our business and retired early so 2023 will be filled with little trips around Australia and two overseas adventures. First off, Japan in April. We may see cherry blossoms but we will certainly see a culture far removed from our own. In June, we will head to London for the Lord’s Test (bucket list item) and Wimbledon (also on the bucket list). We’ll spend six more weeks travelling Europe including a river cruise postponed due to the pandemic. Without the grind of school terms and work, we want to soak in as much food, history, culture, wine and sun as we can.

Leonie Jarrett, Hawthorn East, Vic

DEAD (SEA) SET

I am passionate about travel, it enables me to experience different cultures, provides a sense of freedom and fulfilment. I returned to travel in 2022 and found it stressful and unfulfilling. But in 2023, I plan to travel to Jordan with my partner. We are looking forward to exploring Petra, floating in the Dead Sea, experiencing Jordanian culture, cuisine and making new friends.

Barbara Lindsay, Coffs Harbour, NSW

Editor’s note: Find out more about Jordan before you go with Traveller’s Jordan articles and guides here.

FEET STILL ITCHING

The loss of three precious years due to COVID made a big impact, as has the slowing down of mobility, the bumping up of travel insurance costs and air fares and world instability. However, our enthusiasm doesn’t dampen. So, in 2023, it’ll be two weeks in South Korea and one month in Romania as well as some of the Balkan Countries. Sure, we have swapped backpacks for wheelie cases, public buses for a driver and car and no longer the losmen at 90 cems per night (that was Java, 1975! but proper hotels with suites. So, when we older people are seen to be having a more comfortable method of travel, remember when we were young. We did it all without mobile phones, GPS, internet, Lonely Planet and Trip Advisor – that was an adventure and we will still carry on until the feet stop itching.

D. Hill, Kew, Vic

SAKURA SOJOURN

My dream for me and my wife in the northern spring of 2023 is Japan. With one trip already cancelled owing to the pandemic we are determined to go this time because we are not getting any younger. To stretch a healthy Aussie dollar further, we will spend only a week in Tokyo. The next three weeks will be in a campervan. My first visit to Japan was for the Rugby World Cup there in 2019. The itinerary for that trip was constrained by match venues so this time we want to see the natural beauty of the countryside during Sakura, the cherry blossom time.

Paddy Penton, Dalmeny, NSW

CHAO, BELLA

Volare! To Bangkok, to be spoiled at the Shangri-La Hotel on the Chao Phraya River, fascinating night and day. Shop at Asiatique. Escape the winter. To Vienna, to be lost in glorious art, music and churches (don’t miss the Albertina). Shop for clothes at Cloppenburg. Our secret gourmet lunch awaits in Julius Meinl basement. To Prague, lost in art, antiques and music. Dine at U Zlate Studne, the Golden Wheel, at sunset with magical views and superlative cuisine. A concert in Prague castle. Back home to Bendigo in summer for the wine bars, antiques and races.

Peter Wright, Brunswick East, Vic

MARKETING PLAN

No more sightseeing, museum and cathedral eyeballing for me in 2023. The plan is to spend three months in a little Italian village, interacting with the local folk, visiting its markets and learning to cook local cuisine, appreciate local wines and brush up on my almost non existent Italian. Embrace an Italian village lifestyle as my next adventure.

Jane Ainslie, West Haven, Laurieton, NSW

VOW, WHAT A TRIP

Our travel plans for 2023 began eagerly with an Amsterdam to Budapest river cruise but then we learned of a family wedding in the South of France. Oh dear what to do? After the cruise we’ll spend four days in Prague then to Geneva for five days, with trips to Chamonix and Mont Blanc, cable car and train. Visiting Lake Annecy, then on to Lyon, the Gastronomy capital for two weeks with train trips to nearby towns and countryside. My hopes and dreams were to do a walk in France so we’ll aso go on the Robert Louis Stevenson Trail seven day walk from LePuy through the Cevennes National park. Heading to the wedding, we arrive in Montpellier to collect a hire car for two weeks in nearby Sommieres with day trips around the Provence area. Then it’s a fast train back to Paris for the journey home after three months. My fears and concerns are the packing and having enough stamina to keep going.

Andrea Sayers, Kilsyth South, Vic

LIFE. BE IN IT

We’re so excited to be exploring South America before doing a cruise to Antarctica. Home for a short time before another cruise, from Sydney to the beautiful islands of the South Pacific. Of course, our annual visit to Bali will be followed by a road trip to the Blue Mountains and other National Parks of NSW. Plus…who knows yet? But wherever it is, we’ll enjoy it. Life’s good. Make the most of it.

John and Helen Cayless, Red Hill VIC

TARKINE TIME

After nearly three years of uncertainty about where and how we could travel, 2023 is sending goosebumps through our couch potato bodies. The choices are almost endless as we dust off our bucket lists and start prioritising. For me, it’s about fresh air and freedom, travelling slower and for longer. Where will I be, you ask? Sitting by some of the purest water in the world, shucking an oyster in Tasmania’s Tarkine.

Roxanne LeBlanc, Croydon, Vic

HERE’S HOPING

I am hoping that 2023 brings us all more freedom, less fear and concern about the “what ifs” that we’ve been worried about for the last two years. I will be travelling to Europe once again, embarking on a river cruise from Amsterdam to Basel, then enjoying three weeks in Italy visiting Lake Garda, Venice, Bologna, Umbria, then finishing in Rome. Can’t wait.

Ruth Green, Beechworth, Vic

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The Letter of the Week writer wins Hardie Grant travel books worth more than $100. For November, that includes Ultimate Caravan Trips: Australia, Ultimate Food & Drink: Australia and Neighbourhood Guide to Cycling: Naarm Melbourne. See hardiegrant.com

The Tip of the Week writer wins a set of three great Lonely Planet travel books, including Wine Trails of Australia and New Zealand, Gourmet Trails of Australia and New Zealand and Australia’s Best Trips.See shop.lonelyplanet.com