Vietnam on famil, en famille

Playing with restaurant staff at Temple Club, Saigon.

Last week, I travelled in Saigon and Hanoi for work, with a 17-month-old in tow. News flash: we survived.

It’s not often I do a blog about the family, mainly because the term ‘mummy blogger’ makes me cringe, and also because I think most people would be bored with twee tails of my junior assistant. But if you’re not, here goes:

Living in Australia and wanting to holiday with kids, conventional wisdom says you holiday either at your local beach, in Queensland or, further afield, in Bali or Fiji. Lovely places all of them, but hello? How limited is that?

What little advice I read about babies and Vietnam was a truism in the Lonely Planet that the main problem is controlling what they put in their mouths.

So true, especially when I watched her throw her dummy onto the ground in Saigon’s main wet (very wet) fish market. A kind trader hosed the dummy down with cold water and then watched carefully to see if I’d reinsert. I diverted the awkward situation by pausing to give the baby a drink of water after thanking the trader and walking off, mid-drink.

Fiji trades on its affinity with children: the same should be said for Vietnam. The staff on Vietnam Airlines played with her curls incessantly, taking lots of photos and trying to stuff her with chocolate cake, and it was no different throughout the country. As another traveller said to me recently, “Asia is far more patient with children than our Western countries.”

Chilling out in a bassinet aboard the Vietnam
Airways flight to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).

The minute we walked into hotels, restaurants, galleries or shops, a smiling person would drop to their knees and say hi to the baby, leaving me free to shop, check in, or check out the menu. Baby chairs were everywhere (compared with the icy reception I received from a Sydney maitre’d recently: ‘No, madam, we do NOT have high chairs’), and people, you could order off-menu to suit the child!

I stayed in four and five-star hotels, so paid accordingl: the going rate for babysitters was $8/hour, comparable to Bali’s five-star hotel rates. Thanks to the three-hour time difference, the baby slept around 7 or 8pm, as the sun was going down, and I organised babysitters to co-incide when she’d be sleeping: easier on her, easier on them. I also spotted plenty of shops in the big cities selling bottles, dummies, wipes and nappies: babies are big business in Vietnam.

The main issues were the same ones we adults encounter: keeping hydrated and avoiding the hottest and most humid times of the day. In August, Saigon was cooler and drier, whereas the noise and heat of Hanoi’s Old Quarter meant two hours outside at the most. Any more than that, and there were tears. I thought rooftop cafes would be a good, breezy escape, except there were so many escape routes – mainly over the side of unfenced terraces. Not so good.
A few pointers:
Most milk sold in Vietnam is sweetened, so ask for non-sweetened for babies’ bottles.
I have had success with night flights, as the baby is so exhausted, she’ll sleep all the way home, unless another kid starts bellyaching (which happened recently coming home from Bali. No fun for anyone, especially his parents).
In Hanoi, I used our pram for cool, early morning walks around the lake to watch the locals play badminton and do martial-looking exercises. Otherwise, the sidewalks are almost non-existent, so baby carriers make more sense, though kids do get hot if squished against you for a long time.
Gorgeous tropical fruit is everywhere – the usual rule applies to peel everything.

Essential packing items:
Dummy cord (see fish market above).
Baby food tubes (Rafferty’s Garden etc – they’re not packed in glass so they’re unsmashable, and sometimes kids like a taste of home such as spag bol or lamb casserole, no matter what the age. They’re great squirted over rice for a bigger meal.)
A toybag with short colouring-in pencils, books for the plane and favourite soft toy. 101 Dalmations, on Disney Channel, was invaluable, with plenty of time spent woofing at the screen.
Photos of family from home, so she didn’t miss her papa or nana.

(PS: if you’re wondering about the headline, ‘famil’ is short for ‘familiarisation’, slang for a press trip.)

Travel deals 26 August 2012

Mara tribe, Kenya

Meet the Masai, the 12 Apostles or the hamlets of the Nullabor Plains on an epic trans-Australian journey.

Pay $111 a night – a discount of 33 per cent – when you
book three nights at the Novotel Twin Waters Resort on the Sunshine Coast until
December 20. Located close to beaches and popular attractions like Australia
Zoo and Aussie World, the resort also provides free catamarans, kayaks, bikes
and mini putt putt golf, plus a water trampoline on the resort’s man-made
lagoon. Kids’ Club and babysitting services are available. 1800 072 277,

For many, the highlight of Victoria’s beloved Great Ocean
Road are the 12 Apostles near Apollo Bay. For others, it’s the local waterfalls
and rainforest walks. Check into the YHA and grab a winter special: stay three
nights, pay for two, saving $95. Costs $190 a double/twin room for three night stays
before September 20. (03) 5237 7899,

Tootle down to Merimbula, on the south coast, to
rediscover what holidays used to be like when you were a kid. Cute villages,
broad sweeps of empty beach, jetties for dropping a line off and dolphins and
whales cruising by. Book two nights in an apartment or townhouse at the
4.5-star Coast Resort before September 21 and save almost 50 per cent. Facilities
include heated pools, tennis courts and big balconies. Costs from $360 for two
nights. 1300 130 483,  

Quay West Resort, Bunker Bay

Trade your Weet-Bix and morning news for views of Bunker
Bay, three hours south of Perth in the Margaret River region. The vista from
the terrace of the Quay West Resort is of the blue waters of the Indian Ocean,
and brekky is drawn from local produce, with a splash of sparkling wine, as
befits the locale. Save $65 on bookings before September 30. Costs from $478
for two nights for two people, midweek (Sun-Thurs), includes breakfast for two.
13 15 15,


Cross the continent in four days, from Perth to Sydney on
The Ghan, stopping at historic crossroads and watching the scenery of desert,
mountains and the Nullarbor Plain pass your window. Red Sleeper cabins sleep
two, with beds that fold into day lounges, and the trains feature newly
refurbished Matilda Cafés and new Red Gum lounges. Take a friend for free when
booking Perth to Sydney in a Red Sleeper before October 31. Costs $1510 for two
people, 132 147,


One of the country’s top lodges, Saffire Freycinet, on
the Freycinet peninsula, comprises just 20 beautiful suites looking out to the
Hazards Mountains. Book a deluxe suite for four nights, pay for three and get
all meals and dinner drinks, activities including guided walks, fishing,  golf, wine tasting, canoeing, cooking demos
and learn to mix the perfect cocktail. 
The deal also includes $100 to spend in the spa until end September.
Costs $5400 a suite, 1800 723 347,

Slick and sweet: Eurostar

It’s easy to slip a little ski weekend in on your British
adventures – the Eurostar runs from London to over 40 ski resorts in the French
Alps, including Courchevel, Tignes, and Les Arcs. Book now for travel between
December 21, 2012 – April 13, 2013. Costs from $123 a person (standard class)
or $190 (standard premium class). Travel agents or 


Stay eight nights, pay for just four at the Kata Palm
Resort & Spa, in southern Phuket, down past Karon Beach, and you’ll also
get breakfast daily, return airport transfers, one dinner and a 30 minute
traditional Thai massage for each person. The deal runs until October 31, in a
superior pool view room. Costs from $245 a person, twin share. 1300 138 755, 

You deserve sun: specifically, you
deserve Fijian sun. Book five nights at The Westin Resort & Spa and save up
to 50 per cent. Includes return flights with Air Pacific, airport transfers and
daily breakfast. Book by September 28, stay between November 1-December 27 and
January 6-March 31. Costs from $1169 a person for five nights, twin share,
including flights. 1300 358 382,


Though the Olympics are now over, London will always have
Wimbledon, from June 24, 2013. Book before November 30 and get 5 per cent off
three-night packages, which include a reserved seat for two days at The
Championships on Centre and No. 1 court, three nights’ accommodation, breakfast
daily, London Travel cards, programs, admission into the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis
Museum and lunch at The Wimbledon Experience Club. Costs from $2049 a person,
twin share, 1300 730 023,


Wildebeest migrating across the Masai Mara, flamingos on
Lake Nakuru, sunrise over Mt Kilimanjaro. Scenic Tours’ ultimate African small
group tours spend 31 days on a Grand African Adventure, from Cape Town to
Jo’berg via Tanzania and Kenya. Save up to $1600 a couple on 2013 tours when booked
by December 31. Costs from $15,695 a person, twin share. 1300 723 642,


High on many people’s hit list, the Trans-Siberian
railway crosses from Vladivostok, in Russia’s far east, to the capital, Moscow,
over 15 days. The Golden Eagle is a luxury train that covers the epic 10,600-kilometer
journey, its highlights including the onion domes of St Basil’s Cathedral in
Moscow and Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest lake, in remote Siberia. Forget
rough sleepers – cabins have underfloor heating, DVD players, power showers and
there’s fine dining in the restaurant. The package includes $700 air credit per
person, two nights’ accommodation before the trip, tour guides in nine stops,
all meals, transfers and tipping. Costs from Book before November 30, 2012 for
travel on February 24, 2013. $14,495 a person, twin share. 1800 044 066,

Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun Herald

Champagne free-flow on sale! Travel deals: 12 August 2012

Tadrai Island Resort, Fiji

Get classy in Britain, test the champagne free-flow in Langkawi or slip into something comfortable in the Kimberley.
Some of the world’s most pure air blows through Strahan,
a fishing village on the west coast of Tassie. Base yourself here to cruise the
Gordon River, catch the West Coast Wilderness Railway or to taste the divine
wine and cheese that results from such purity. Book a hilltop
standard room at the Strahan Village and pay half price until
September 30. Costs from $55 a person a night, twin share.1800
420 155,


The seaside town of Queenscliff, an hour from Melbourne,
grooves to the tunes of the Blues Train, a steam train that shakes, rattles and
rolls over the rails to Drysdale and back, serving up dinner and a blues show.
The ‘D’ carriage is for dancing and there’s a bar on board, too. Stay two
nights at the Big4 Beacon Resort and get two tickets to the train, worth $185, transfers
to the train, a recovery brekky hamper and noon checkout. Costs from $272.50 a
person for two nights, twin share, 1800 351 152,
Tickets are also cut from $92.50 to $50 during August and September. 132 849,


Get a bird’s-eye view of the Red Centre with a balloon
flight over Alice Springs and its dramatic surrounds. Stay two nights at the
four-star Crowne Plaza Alice Springs and get upgraded to a Mountain View room
and a 30-minute balloon flight. Kids under 19 stay free, pay $209 for
ballooning. Book by 3pm October 5, stay until October 12. Costs from $439 an
adult. 1300 130 485,


Families can discover the heart of Sydney when they book
a premier room for four nights, and pay for just three at the five-star Sydney Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel. The
hotel will also throw in a family pass to Taronga Zoo and free internet.  Book before January 31, stay now until
September 30, December 16-24, 2012 and January 2-31, 2013. Costs from $1074 per
family (2 adults +2 kids) for four nights. 1800 044 066,


The quiet, fern-lined pools of Zebedee Hot Springs, on El
Questro cattle station, are the most ecologically sound spa you’ll ever
encounter. Soak it up in between outback hikes, bush-bashing down the Gibb
River Road, ogling crocs in Windjana Gorge, exploring the Bungle Bungles and
ancient caves on this nine-day Wild Kimberley tour. Accom is a mix of permanent
tents and al fresco camping. Was $2195, save 20 percent on September 11
departure. Book by September 7, costs $1756 a person. 1800 018 871,

Snorkelling at Orpheus Island, Queensland


The secretive hideaway of Orpheus Island, off the coast
of Townsville, is sheer island luxury. Stay five nights, pay four, saving $1400
a couple. The package includes sensational meals from the kitchen of Cheong
Liew protégé Arie Prabowo, selected wines and beers, use of dinghies, cats, and
snorkelling equipment as well as a daily nature-based experience, be it a
sunset cruise, fishing or island tour. Stay till January 21, including the
Christmas period. Costs from $5600 for two people. (07) 4777 7377,


Oh, they know how we like it, at the Datai Langkawi. The
grand dame of Langkawi is cutting 25 percent off its regular rates with a
stay-three, pay-four deal until December 19, and includes daily breakfast with champagne
on free-flow.  Accommodation is a deluxe
or superior villa and also included are limo transfers, a private dinner on the
beach for two, 120 minutes of spa treatment per person, a mangrove tour and guided
nature walk. Costs from $2338 for four nights. +60 4 959 2500

The Datai Langkawi, Malaysia


Sometimes, a bit of class doesn’t go astray, especially
when you’re upgraded from standard to lovely first class. Buy a BritRail Flexi
Pass for four or eight days by August 30 through International Rail and get a
free upgrade to first class when you use the pass any time in 2013, travelling
through England, Scotland and Wales. Costs from $355 for a four-day pass. 1300
387 245,


If you can’t get enough of winter, now’s the time to
think about the Christmas ski season. Ski Hakuba and stay just 150 meters from
the ski lifts at High Mount Hotel. The deal includes breakfast and a six-day
lift pass. Book by 3pm September 28, travel December 14-29, January 3 – April
30.  Costs from $1099 a person, twin
share for seven nights. 1300 130 485,  

Innsbruck, Austria


The capital of the Alps, Innsbruck, has city breaks
including a three-night stay in a four-star hotel and a 48-hour Innsbruck Card,
worth E35, with E227 value. Includes a guided walk through the medieval town, rides
on seven cable cars, a sightseeing bus tour, entrance to museums including the
Ambras Castle, Swarovski crystal museum, a cocktail at the town’s casino, and
there’s coffee and cake in the clouds, at the Alpenlounge Seegrube restaurant.
Costs E219 (A$256) a person, twin share, for three nights. +43 512 56 2000,


The new adults-only Tadrai Island Resort is sleek and
chic, with the Mamanuca islands’
signature white sand beaches. Includes champagne on arrival, all meals, drinks
and butler services. Stay seven nights and get one return flight from Australia
to Nadi with Air Pacific, stay 10 nights and they’ll give you two international
return flights. Book by September 11, travel until December 16. Costs $10,077
(two people, seven nights) or $14,399 (two people, 10 nights). (07) 5524 5222,

Howe Island

When you breathe your next yoga breath, your lungs are
filled with the pure air of Lord Howe Island during this wellness retreat with
yoga teacher Charlotte Dodson. You may have spotted her recently teaching Lara
Bingle, and other radiant celebrity followers include model Miranda Kerr and
fashion designer Kit Willow. Pinetrees
Spring Wellness Retreat’s six-night packages include two daily yoga sessions
with Charlotte, daily fitness sessions, wholefood cooking classes, organic
gardening classes and wine tasting (that’s organic wine, of course!) Ayurvedic spa treatments are also available and then
there are the island’s everyday charms – snorkelling, swimming, kayaking and
mountain climbing. Runs from September 3-7 and November 17-23.  Costs from $1270 a person twin share
(excluding airfares). (02) 9262 6585,

Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun Herald

Travel deals: 29 July 2012

TOURWATCH: Bend to pray at Kumbha Mela 2013

Surfers flex their pecs in Port Macquarie, while saints and holy men, seers and the devout bend to pray in India.

Nature lovers can also be comfort lovers, especially when
we’re talking winter in Tasmania. Admire the glory of the Freycinet peninsula,
home to the perfect crescent of Wineglass Bay, from the tub. The eco-friendly
Freycinet Lodge has just refurbished its 10 premier suites, complete with new
bathrooms (and TV) earning them a 4.5-star rating. Snap up a winter special
until August 31, normally $300 a night, rooms start from $170 a night.  1800 420 155,


The Australian Surf Festival kicks off 11-26 August in
Port Macquarie, where up to 400 surfers are expected to flex the pecs as they
fight for 25 Aussie titles. There’ll also be movies, music and art exhibits
around a surf theme. Stay three nights in a 2-bedroom riverside spa cottage in
the Sundowner Tourist Park and get a free platter of local produce, a $50
voucher to blow at the Port City Bowling Club and midday checkout. Costs from
$441 for three nights, from August 1-31. 1300 303 155,


The Fireside Festival runs throughout August, with
100-mile dinners, wine and degustation dinners in 25 venues across Canberra. Stay
two nights in a King Bed superior room at the Crowne Plaza Canberra and save 20
per cent, book until August 17 and stay until September 30. Costs from $336 a
room for two nights, including breakfast. 1300 888 180,

Spicers Balfour Hotel, Brisbane.

Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art has pulled off yet
another major coup, currently showing masterpieces from Madrid’s Prado in its
galleries, so it’s time to head north. You’ll turn heads when you let drop
you’re staying in one of the town’s hippest little hotels, the nine-room Spicers
Balfour Hotel. Set 3km from the CBD in funky New Farm, book 14 days ahead and save
$60 a night. Includes breakfast, canapés in the rooftop bar and wi-fi. Costs
from $299 a room. 1300 597 540,


Pull on your walking boots for a spring trek along
Victoria’s south-west coast and save $110 when you book the Great South West
Walk (22-25 Sept) and Great Ocean Walk (27-30 Sept).  Carrying just your day pack, the guided walk
follows well-maintained trails and includes a night in Cape Otway lighthouse
and lunch with the 12 Apostles as a backdrop. Both trips depart from Melbourne
and groups are limited to 14 people. Costs $2190 a person. (03) 9877 9540,

Katherine Gorge

See the best of the west, from Perth to Darwin, over 18
days, visiting some of the world’s greatest beauty spots: Ningaloo Reef, the
windswept limestone formations of the Pinnacles and the gorgeous gorges of the
Territory. There’s a touch of luxe, too, at Cable Beach Club Resort in Broome,
and El Questro Wilderness Park. Save $650 on coach tours departing September 6
and 29 and October 18. Costs $6345 a person. 1300 805 493,

Zipping in from the remote islands and need a pad to hole
up for the night? Or want to get to grips with the street markets of Nadi, the
Novotel Nadi and Mercure Nadi are knocking 20 percent off their room rates for
two-night stays. Includes free airport transfers, on stays until January 31.
Costs from $87 a night (Novotel) and $70 a night (Mercure). 1300 656565,

Wander the medieval cobbled streets of the rue du
Faubourg St-Antoine on the Right Bank, for a slice of Parisian life. Stay four
nights, pay three at the three-star Le Patio St Antoine when you book and
travel before August 31. Includes breakfast daily, costs $321 a person, twin
share. 1300 747 400,

It’s a country with one of the coolest soundtracks… aaah,
Cuba, you’re hip to the eyeballs. This tour covers the length of the country,
from Havana in the west to the old pirate haven of Baracoa in the far east,
with stops for the Che Guevara museum, Trinidad’s beaches and some sultry salsa
in Santiago de Cuba. Book by August 27 to for September 1 departure and
save $456 a person. Costs $1369 a person, 15 days. 1300 018 8701,

South Luangwa game drive, Zambia

There are just seven safari tents at Sanctuary Puku
Ridge, which treat lightly on the earth of the South Luangwa National Park.
Watch the sun rise from your bed, and animals gathering at the waterhole near
your tent. Stay three nights and save more than $1700 a couple, including all
meals, drinks, game viewing and flights from Lusaka. Costs $2120 a person, twin
share, until October 31. 1300 195 873,

The fish are
seriously big on Alaska’s Kenai peninsula, as are the bears. It’s Alaska’s wild
playground. Discover it in 5-star style, o a 28-day journey from Canada up to
the Arctic Circle, including seven nights cruising the Alaskan coastline,
slipping between the icebergs of Glacier Bay National Park. Couples booking before
October 19 will get one free return flight to Canada. Costs from $16,010 a
person, twin share, which includes flights for the second person travelling.  1300 723 642, 

Saints and holy men, seers and the devout: watch the
swirl of humanity as India bends to pray at Kumbha Mela, one of the world’s
largest pilgrimages. In January and February 2013, up to 60 million people will
gather in Allahabad, in the Uttar Pradesh, at the confluence of point
Hinduism’s three holiest rivers – the Ganges, the Yamuna and the ethereal Saraswati.
Devotees stretch 15km along the riverbanks on auspicious bathing days to
cleanse themselves of sin. This eight-day tour starts in Delhi and warms to the
religious theme with a visit to the holy city of Varanasi, south of Delhi,
before continuing to Allahabad, where you’ll stay in a tented camp in the heart
of the action. Costs from US$809 (A$780) a person. Unique Tourism, (02) 921

Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun Herald newspaper


TV chef Luke Nguyen on the road.

Got a secret crush on TV chef Luke Nguyen? Get up close and personal for a week in Yunnan; just read on…

Halls Gap is the jumping off point for Victoria’s
Grampians National Park, with its renowned hiking and rock art galleries.
Staying in town, visit the meerkats and pandas at the local zoo. Families can
bunker down in Parkgate Resort, whose family rooms include a double bed and
bunks, kitchenette and bathroom. Facilities include tennis courts, pools and a
games room. Costs from $80 a night, minimum two nights, until September 21,

Alice Springs is famous for the nearby MacDonnell Ranges,
but the town is also boasts some great indigenous art galleries and the next
Henley-On-Todd Regatta, a boat race down the (usually) dry riverbed, is on
Saturday August 18. Stay four nights, pay for three in a superior room at
happening Lasseters Hotel Casino, which, as the name suggests, boasts an international
standard casino. Book and travel before March 31. Costs from $510 a person for
four nights, twin share, 132 757,

If Hugh and ‘Our Nic’ got your heart a-flutter as they
galloped across the remote Australian outback, you can relive the dream by
climbing in the saddle at the East Kimberley homestead that  was a shooting location for Australia. Stay two nights in a
guesthouse room at Home Valley Station and get brekky included as well as free
activities such as a nightly star talk, horsemanship shows, on-site local
artists and 4WD and bushwalking tracks. Valid till August 31, the mid-season
muster deal costs from $240 a person for two nights, 1300 134 044, 


Tower Lodge, Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia

fires, beautiful food and a strapping red: is there any better way to embrace
winter? The Hunter Valley’s premium address, the sublime Tower Lodge, is
offering a mid-week getaway for two that includes dinner at the Valley’s
gastronomic mainstay, Robert’s, a bottle of the estate’s wine, breakfast,
pre-dinner drinks, afternoon tea and an upgrade to a fireside deluxe room on
stays on Sunday, Monday or Thursday nights. Normally $660 for the room only,
now costs $629 a room, (02) 4998 7022,

Honeymoons are an excuse to lash out on pure, indulgent
fabulousness. One of the Whitsundays’ most glamorous addresses, qalia on
Hamilton Island, welcomes newly-weds by throwing in a free night on seven-night
stays in a Leeward Pavilion. They’ll also include a bottle of champagne, sunset
cruise on its 45-foot cruiser, a poolside dinner, breakfast, golf buggy,
chauffeur services around the island as well as use of their catamarans, paddle
skis and other water sports equipment. You can even be dropped off on a
deserted beach if your heart desires. For stays on selected dates until March
31, costs $5010 a couple for seven nights, 1800 044 066,


Design hounds will have an eye on Portuguese designer
Nini Andrade Silva’s streamlined interiors in Fontana Park hotel,in Lisb on’s
heartland. Summer specials see the 139-room’s rates as low as E69/$84 a night,
room only, or E94 including breakfast, 0011 800 3746 8357,


VIETNAM: InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula

Fans of architect Bill Bensley will already know where
Vietnam’s Son Tra peninsula is. His latest design, the new InterContinental
Danang Sun Peninsula, has opening specials including a buffet breakfast, wi-fi,
10 percent off in selected hotel restaurants and a shuttle bus into Danang City
and Hoi An’s old town. The hotel also hosts Vietnam’s first three-star Michelin
chef at its feature restaurant, La Maison 1888. Costs from US$220/A$215 a night
until January 1, 2013, +84 (0) 511 393 8888,


Skim the warm waters of Fiji in a helicopter or seaplane
to your luxe pad at the adults-only Tokoriki Island Resort, at the tip of the
beautiful Mamanuca islands. The 34-bure hotel is offering free transfers from
Nadi by air or sea for couples staying seven nights or more in a deluxe beach
bure or sunset pool villa, saving up to FJ$961.For travel between December 1 to
March 31 2013. Costs from $4131 a couple for seven nights, (07) 5524 5222,

FIJI: Tokoriki Island Resort

Hollywood, Santa Monica, Vegas, San Diago and LA: it’s
the best of the American west with the Golden West Contrasts tour. Explore old
mines, new shopping and Disneyland is an added extra. The eight-day costs from
$1975. Book any Trafalgar 2013 America and Canada tour before August 31 and fly
return to LA with Qantas from $1499 including all taxes.  Flight and tour package costs from $3474, 1300 663 043,

Harbour a secret crush on TV chef Luke Nguyen? Spend a
week cheek-to-cheek with him as you eat your way through the south-western Chinese
province of Yunnan. Luke explored the region while filming his TV series Luke
Nguyen’s Greater Mekong.
Book the
11-day Yunnan Adventure before October 31 and your companion flies free. There
are four departures from March to October next year, and Luke will escort the
March 11 departure for six days. Costs from $4395 a person, 1300 229


Go back to where Christmas all began, in Bethlehem, in a
20-day tour through the Holy Lands of Turkey, Israel and Jordan. Midnight High
Mass is celebrated on Christmas Eve in St Catherine’s Church, opposite the
Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, a highlight of this tour through the
cradle of civilisation. The route includes sparkling Istanbul and the Turkish
city of Konya, renowned for its whirling dervishes and allegedly the first town
to emerge from the Flood, the Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem, and at
its feet, the Garden of Gethsemane. The journey culminates in New Year’s Eve in
the ancient city of Petra, in peaceful Jordan. 
The tour departs December 15, and costs from $19,940 a person, twin
share which includes return airfares from mainland capitals, accommodation, all
meals, transport and guides, 1800 083 141,

Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun Herald newspaper 

Here’s booking with you, kid

Yasmine and her meimei (nanny) Litiana.
FIJI’S air is humid and temperatures a good 20 degrees higher than the home I left five hours ago and I’m ferreting through a daypack for passports, five-month-old Yasmine on the arm. I plonk her on a nearby desk for a hands-free moment.

“Madam!” barks an official-sounding woman. “You need Special Attention!”

She claps her hands and, like a summoned genie, a young
man appears at my side, grabs our passports and runs past the queue of two planeloads of newly arrived Australian holidaymakers. Within minutes, we are bustled through customs, our luggage retrieved, the driver has collected us and we are bundled up in a cool van, turned towards the southern Coral Coast and our resort.

It is the ultimate queue-jump and a delicious taste of travelling in Fiji with a baby. The omens are good.

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