EAT WITH THE APES
I am heading to Singapore for six nights soon with my active 80-year-old mum. We would like to have breakfast with the orang-utans. Should we book this before we go? What’s the best way to get around?
The jungle breakfast with the orangutans takes place each day from 9am to 10.30am at the Ah Meng restaurant in the Singapore Zoo grounds.
It’s a good idea to get to the zoo by 8.30am so you have enough time to reach the restaurant and grab a good seat. The buffet-style breakfast costs about $32 an adult, on top of your zoo entry fee. The orang-utans appear for about 30 minutes, when you can take and pose for photos.
It is recommended you make a reservation at least three working days ahead, especially if you intend to visit on a weekend. See Wildlife Reserves Singapore (wrs.com.sg).
Taxis are an efficient, economical way to get around Singapore. You will find the drivers honest and informative. We are off to South America mid-October and wondering what is the safest way to obtain a Brazilian visa and the necessary paperwork to enter Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and the Falklands.
A visa for entry to Brazil can be obtained either in person or by post through the Brazilian Embassy, by your travel agent or by using the services of an authorised visa agency such as Visalink (visalink.com.au) or Visa HQ (visahq.com.au).
Get the process started soon as the Brazilian visa takes about three weeks to process, not including post or courier time. It will cost $216 a person.
Argentina has recently dropped its reciprocity fee for Australian passport holders, so you do not need a visa or to pay a fee for entry. Depending on where you enter the country, you may have your fingerprints scanned and your photo taken. You will be granted a stay of up to three months.
Chile still requires a reciprocity fee of about $75 to be paid upon arrival for a stay of up to 90 days.
You are not required to obtain a visa for entry to Uruguay for tourism for stays up to three months. The Falkland Islands do not require Australian passport holders to hold a visa for tourist stays up to 30 days.
With travel to the above countries, you should also ensure your passport is valid for at least six months before entry and that it has blank pages, you can prove you have funds to support yourselves while travelling, plus have an onward ticket and documents pertaining to the purpose of your trip (itinerary or hotel reservation). If you are travelling to South America via the US, you will also require an ESTA. CARIBBEAN VACCINATIONS
My wife and I are cruising the Caribbean in March. We will be visiting several ports on various islands and wonder what vaccinations, if any, will be required.
The health risks associated with travel vary between individuals. You need to take into account the length of stay, your overall health and what activities you will be doing. It is important you visit a travel health specialist at least eight weeks before departure. Your specialist may suggest hepatitis A and B plus tetanus vaccinations for travel to the Caribbean.
SELECT YOUR SEAT
Is there a recommended or preferred way to do your own seat selection, particularly on overseas flights, and have some success? I have tried several times without any joy at all, the latest only last month with Singapore Airlines. No matter how early I start, it always comes up that the bulk of the seats are not available.
Gone are the days of the earlier you arrived at check-in, the more chance you had of securing the seat you want. Today, it is more like how much extra you are prepared to pay to guarantee your seat or sit together as a family.
Airlines now block seats for their frequent flyers and for those willing to pay the extra. Exit rows and extra legroom seats attract a premium, plus those towards the front of the aircraft.
One way to increase your chance of scoring your preferred place is to book as far ahead as possible. Once your flight is confirmed, jump into the seat selection screen and grab the best you can get. If the one you are after is not available, there are websites to help you choose the next best. Seat Guru (seatguru.com), Seat Expert (seatexpert.com) and Seat Plans (seatplans.com) are some that I use.
They provide useful information on each aircraft type and various seat preferences. You can plug in your flight and be shown a seating map.
Sometimes more available seating opens up the closer your departure date becomes as airlines release seats. They will begin to upgrade frequent flyers and let go of seats held for them. So keep checking your booking in case you can move to a better spot.
Alternatively, call the airline and ask if they can allocate your chosen position or ask again at check-in or even at the gate where you may come across a last-minute cancellation.
Enjoy breakfast with the orang-utans at Singapore Zoo.