Re: Pacific's best dive sites, Travel, March 15 - a very limited list. Here are just a couple more ...
• New Ireland/New Britain, Papua New Guinea: Large pelagic fish, drift diving, huge drop-offs.
• Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea: The macro photographers' best-in-the-world site.
• President Coolidge, Vanuatu: Best large accessible dive wreck around.
• Great Barrier Reef, Australia: Flinders Reef off the Townsville coast was stunning but has been hammered by warming and coral bleaching.
• Yongala wreck, Great Barrier Reef, Australia: A stunning dive site.
• Cook Passage to Cape York, Great Barrier Reef, Australia: Excellent and varied dive sites.
• Truk Lagoon: The largest collection of wreck dives in one place.
• Bikini Atoll: Wreck divers' mecca - nowhere else can you explore an aircraft carrier and battleships.
• Niue: Some of the clearest water in the world. You'll see everything from sea snakes to whales.
• Poor Knights Islands, New Zealand: Stunning.
ON ECONOMY CLASS TO DUBAI
There has been a lot of hoopla regarding Emirates new non-stop service to Dubai ['Flight Check', Travel, March 16]. However no reviews have been published of the inflight experience in Economy Class. I imagine the experience to be truly dire - 10 abreast seating with 31 inch pitch! As most of your readers can ill-afford Business Class a review of Economy Class on this flight would be welcome.
The Travel Editor replies: We've got a review of the Economy Class service coming soon.
ON JAPAN AND MUSICAL TOILETS
Just regarding Regan Schoultz's stay at the Japanese hotel ['Room Check Omnibus', Travel, March 15] - travellers to Japan should be aware that when bathing in communal baths in a hotel or at onsen in Japan it is mandatory to wash thoroughly before entering the pool.
• The showers she mentions can be used after bathing but are supposed to always be used first! You sit on the low stool (in front of a slider shower) to be modest and to avoid spraying others with water.
• No soap or shampoo is permitted in the pool so you are supposed to be scrubbed clean (and thoroughly rinsed off) prior to getting in the pool; this way the water stays clean for all users. Sometimes soap and shampoo are provided, in onsen you often bring your own.
• Togs, underwear and tattoos are not permitted. (Tattoos are considered offensive because of their link to the yakuza, the Japanese mafia).
• The small towel you may be given can be used for a little modesty getting in and out but must not enter the pool. Usually it is folded and placed on your head while you bathe or on the side of the pool as long as it is above the water level. The nudity is normal for Japanese and whole generations of a family (of the same sex) often bathe together in onsen.
• The hotels usually provide slippers and a yukata (cotton dressing gown) to wear to and from the bathing area.
• Often the hotel or bathhouse will also have separate "toilet slippers" which are intended to be worn only within the toilet cubicle - never in the hotel room or changing area of the bath house.
• The toilet button with the musical note (which plays music, or the sound of running/flushing water) is to provide privacy while using the toilet.
ON YELLOW LETTERS
May I make a plea on behalf of those whose eyesight is not what it used to be.
Although I enjoy the Travel magazine very much, I am finding it increasingly difficult to read the captions on some of the articles when these are printed yellow. In your edition of March 8, pages 18, 19, 22 and 23 I found difficult to pick up.
Do keep up the good work though.
The Travel Editor replies: That yellow font was hard to read. We'll watch out for it in future.