Pure New Zealand
Cheers to Adam Sachs for his article. I agree that the only way to travel there is to have no plan at all. I spent six months in Christchurch in 2002 and discovered the rest of the country in this way. From the people to the food to the landscape, it was a life-changing experience, and Sachs captured it all perfectly. It’s refreshing to read an article that’s not about luxury hotels or jam-packed itineraries, but the real essence of a place. —Tara Deponte, Kailua, Hawaii
I just received my first issue of T+L and was dismayed to see the rabbit-fur vest in “Best Travel Gifts 2009.” Surely you can be stylish in a faux fur. —Lynda Austin, Orange, Calif.
Drinking Up Australia
I hope Bruce Schoenfeld made it to Xanadu winery, near Margaret River, while reporting “The Ultimate Australian Wine Tour.” My husband and I went there during a trip to Australia last October. It has some of the oldest vineyards in the area—and fabulous Shiraz! —Barbara Stokey, Virginia Beach, Va.
Into the Wild
Peter Jon Lindberg’s “Social Media Revolution” story got it right. Recently, after an exhausting two-week business trip in Bangkok, I had a car pick me up from my hotel and drop me off at a bungalow near Khao Yai National Park, three hours north. There, I went on a guided hike through the jungle, where I saw elephants, tigers, and snakes. How did I arrange this? I didn’t use Google Maps or TripAdvisor; I didn’t even pick up my phone. I simply told the concierge that I wanted to go someplace quiet, get a bit of fresh air, and maybe see wildlife—and that I didn’t want to look at a brochure. It turned out to be the best little trip I’ve ever had. —Ed Bayron, Tokyo
Hot Topic: Travel Scams
Southeast Asia: The Flat-Tire Fix
The Scam: Two guys on a scooter discreetly deflated one of my back tires at a stoplight; when it turned green they whizzed by, shouting that I had a flat. I pulled over to change it, leaving the windows open and the car unlocked. Meanwhile, the same two guys pulled up on the street side of the car and took everything inside. Advice: If you have to change your tire, shut your windows and lock your doors first. —Garland Wilson, Port Charlotte, Fla.
Paris: The Escalator Trip-Up
The Scam: We were nearing the top of an escalator at a crowded Métro stop when the man in front of me dropped something and bent over to pick it up. I fell over him and my wife over me, while one or two accomplices clambered over us, grabbing whatever they could. Advice: Keep your valuables in a safe place—and put a fake wallet where you might carry a real one. Also, keep your distance from others on the escalator! —Herb Falk, Hendersonville, N.C.
Italy: The Currency Change
The Scam: While boarding a Circumvesuviana train in Sorrento, I paid for my ticket with a 50 euro note and was “accidentally” given the wrong change. Advice: When using a foreign currency, it’s not immediately obvious that you’ve been ripped off—especially if you’re in a hurry to catch a train. Pay with the smallest denomination of bills possible. —Travelandleisure.com member
Mark Orwoll adds: I used four different currencies on my last trip, so I know how easy it is to get confused. Try to figure out the approximate cost of your purchase beforehand—when you actually hand over cash you’ll know, at least roughly, how much change you should get back.