I (DON'T) GO TO RIO
Brazil last year moved to an online form for visa applications. Assuming this would be an easier and more straightforward process than applying at a consulate has unfortunately been a mistake.
My partner and I tried many times to upload the required photos, only to have these summarily rejected, despite following the guidelines, and having photos done at Australia Post. We then attempted to go through a visa agency, though despite again submitting photos fulfilling the requirements, the applications were again rejected.
Since we have now spent several hundred dollars on applications, photos done professionally and are no closer to obtaining the relevant visa, we have abandoned plans to visit Brazil at this time.
I would be interested to hear if any other potential travellers have suffered the same frustration. Who knows, perhaps in future Brazil might extend the same visa-free status to Australian citizens that they do to New Zealanders.
Marie-Louise Dreux, Petersham, NSW
LETTER OF THE WEEK
The recent death of the great French master chef, Paul Bocuse, brought back vividly to mind the fabulous, modern market Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse in the Part-Dieu business district of Lyon.
The building, with a history dating from 1858 and now named in his honour, was last renovated about 10 years ago and houses 60 stalls where every kind of produce is displayed with the superb perfection of an art gallery and with as much refinement. You can not only buy to take away but also relax over coffee, chocolates, pastries or cheese; whatever takes your fancy is available and the temptation is irresistible.
Only 100 metres from a good Citadines apartment hotel and a modest walk from the more historic parts of Lyon just across the Rhone, we made daily morning forays to stock up for our evening meal and enjoy the displays and the atmosphere.
Brian Macdonald, Watsonia, VIC
SUCH A WASTE
I would hesitate to promote Flores, Indonesia, as the next "anti-Bali" (Traveller, January 6). Having cycled Flores' length over three weeks in October, 2017, it is an outstanding travel destination with outstanding scenery from volcanic mountains and lakes to world-class diving, coral beach resorts, komodos and divine fresh seafood in abundance. Apart from Labuanbajo, tourist resorts are relatively scarce.
However, I was horrified by the environmental degradation. Litter and waste were strewn everywhere on land and sea. Inland, we saw few birds or wildlife. No evidence of rubbish collection, reduction incentives or education - surely something for the Indonesian government to initiate. Profits from tourism in Flores could be spent on environmental initiatives, and avoid a Bali-like outcome.
Anne Ford, Glenrowan, NSW
What travellers with a tiny carry-on bag or a small suitcase fail to realise (Rants & raves, January 20) is that not everyone is going on a short vacation or to just one time zone. We would all like to carry less, but some people travel for work (for instance I'm an archaeologist), have medical conditions, and are sometimes gone for many months.
This may require carrying expensive computer equipment, photography equipment, scanners, surveying equipment, scientific samples, months worth of multiple prescription medications, and even a CPAP machine for sleep apnoea as well as clothing for both summer and winter weather.
And, if one shops in an airport, it often means carrying the purchased goods on the plane. People travelling with infants, children, musical instruments, or even sports equipment may also have different luggage requirements.
Louise A. Hitchcock, Parkville, VIC
I read with dismay the letter by Joseph Ting (Rants & raves, January 20) in which he said he gave several courses of antibiotics to a hospital in Bangalore, India. This is contrary to the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines and those of Australia for drug donations to developing countries.
Developing countries require medications which their staff are trained to use. The products need to be labelled in the language used by the majority of the people and especially the doctors and nursing staff.
Certainly if you want to help an individual you can pay for their treatment while you are visiting a country. If you want to assist with larger scale projects donate to a reputable charity such as Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).
Kay Dunkley, Brighton East, VIC
GO THE TIGERS
Reena Iyer (Rants & Raves, January 20), while praising Tiger service, queried the time it took for a refund. I have twice received refunds from Tiger, once by reimbursement onto the credit card used for purchase (Tiger cancelled a flight out of Sydney and covered the additional costs of new seats), and once with credit for future use.
The first was easy, the second required patience but was a result of a family accident while travelling, so I am thankful for any recompense. Jetstar also allowed me to change flights for no additional cost when I attended a funeral.
Bruce Parr, Hawthorn, VIC
SLAVE TO PROGRESS
I'm glad for Ellie Welkamp (Traveller, 6 January) that she enjoyed her visit to Dubai. I wonder if, when she was enjoying the museums and other cultural experiences, she stopped to consider the success of that city was - and continues to be - built on the back of a largely slave labour force.
Additionally, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a poor record on human rights: an extreme level off self -censorship is practised; homosexuality and apostasy are crimes; and political activists have been jailed and tortured. Dubai also has an appalling environmental record.
Many counties have aspects of their society that are reprehensible. Few, though, seem to have as many black marks as Dubai. I think this is worth considering before any visit.
Richard Aspland, Rosanna, VIC