EAT WITH THE APES

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - ASK THE EXPERT DOC HOLIDAY - KIM CULYER

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?

DOC

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.

DOC

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.

DOC

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.

DOC

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.

PIC­TURE: ADAM TAY­LOR

En­joy break­fast with the orang-utans at Sin­ga­pore Zoo.

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