Oh, no, an ice-cold re­cep­tion

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - PA­TRI­CIAN SULEWSKI

THE morn­ing had been long and, due to cy­clonic ac­tiv­ity, all flights to Tokyo had been can­celled. Dur­ing the in­or­di­nate amount of time it took the ground staff to ar­rive, the num­ber of would-be trav­ellers had rapidly es­ca­lated, bus­loads ar­riv­ing by the minute.

In due course, new ar­range­ments were made and we were shut­tled off to a nearby Cairns ho­tel, where we were to stay for the next two days. As sea­soned (and we be­lieved), wise trav­ellers we had ob­served the 7kg cabin bag­gage al­lowance and, as our des­ti­na­tion was to be north­ern Ja­pan in late au­tumn, we were dressed in long trousers, boots, long socks, fleecy-lined jumpers and ski coats, with sim­i­lar ap­parel in our lug­gage. All less than ideal for a trop­i­cal cli­mate. Any cloth­ing we might have been tempted to buy to af­ford greater com­fort would have had to be dis­carded prior to de­par­ture.

Hav­ing spent a fur­ther three hours wait­ing for a room, we were thrilled to an­swer a knock on our door to a waiter bear­ing a sil­ver ice-cooler in which nes­tled a bot­tle of cham­pagne. Our faith in the air­line re­stored, we de­scribed our or­deal and he lis­tened sym­pa­thet­i­cally. As he turned to go, we no­ticed an ac­com­pa­ny­ing card, only to find it was ad­dressed to a Mr and Mrs Ono. “The man­age­ment would like to of­fer our best wishes for your fu­ture hap­pi­ness,” it de­clared. Sadly, we of­fered back the bot­tle, but he shrugged and abruptly left. The cham­pagne was cold and went down well.

The next morn­ing was spent in the air-con­di­tioned li­brary, can­celling ho­tels and re­or­gan­is­ing our trip and, af­ter a leisurely lunch, we re­turned to the ho­tel and an irate re­cep­tion­ist who ad­vised our book­ing was for one night only; we had out­stayed our wel­come and should pack im­me­di­ately. It wasn’t so much the re­quest, but the man­ner in which it was de­liv­ered; then she fled, to be re­placed by a laid­back Pa­cific Is­lan­der who told us to re­turn to our room, he would bring the mat­ter to the at­ten­tion of the manager. Soon, the manager rang to apol­o­gise.

As we put down the re­ceiver, a knock on the door her­alded a maid car­ry­ing a now-familiar ice-cooler. Af­ter a cou­ple of pre-din­ner cham­pagnes, we went down to the restau­rant and a wel­come din­ner. Re­turn­ing to our room, we were sur­prised to dis­cover a card, which must have fallen to the floor ear­lier. In hor­ror, we read, “To Mr and Mrs Ono. The man­age­ment would like to of­fer …” Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to Fol­low the Reader: travel@theaus­tralian.com. au. Columnists re­ceive a Trav­elon Anti-Theft Clas­sic Travel Bag fea­tur­ing FRID block­ing tech­nol­ogy, metal mesh lining, de­tach­able cut­proof shoul­der strap and lock­able zip­pers. $115. More: 1800 331 690; strand­bags.com.au.

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