To India

We’re off to India soon,  and I’ve set up a new blog for this.  It’s here.

And yes, for the India blog, I’ve gone back to Blogspot.  Seemingly, photos on Blogspot can be a higher resolution than here on WordPress (although there are fewer options for re-sizing them).     WordPress have also irritated me recently by imposing an unwanted “rainbow” line across the top of the Dashboard page.   True, it seems easier to search old posts on WordPress, but for now, I’m giving Blogspot another go.   Hopefully I’ll have some wi fi access, and my rather ancient netbook will be up to the task of posting some blog entries.

In the meantime, this blog will go into recess.

 

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An on-line booking

We’re planning to have a few days interstate later this year, so after comparing airfares and the like, I went to the Tigerair site to make an airfare booking.   The site was a little unresponsive once or twice during the process but at the last step, it seemed not to complete the booking.   So, I did it all over again!!   Then it dawned on me – I’d duplicated the booking.

Oh no, in hindsight it was all my fault.   True, the site hadn’t confirmed the booking quite in the manner I had been anticipating, but nevertheless, had I looked at what it more closely, it would have been clear that the booking had been made.

What to do?   With not a lot of confidence, I called the phone number listed on the website.   After listening to a recorded speel dealing with all manner of issues, I got through to an operator (obviously off-shore) after just a few minutes (more quickly than I was anticipating!).

And although it was fairly tedious giving every detail of both bookings, I was told that, yes, I did have a “duplicate booking”.   They’d been made 9 minutes apart, and, to my great relief, because they’d been made directly on the Tigerair website, Tiger would cancel the 2nd one and refund the money!    It might take between 2 to 4 weeks for the money to turn up, but they’d do it!  (see Update below).

A great sigh of relief on my part.   The world of on-line bookings isn’t quite as fraught as I thought it might be.  I wonder if things like this are not unusual, so perhaps it’s good customer relations to allow a little flexibility in such situations.

UPDATE:   The refund was credited to my account by close of business on the next business day.   Much better than I dared to hope!

Vaccinations

We’re off on a short trip to India next month.   To be honest, I’ve never had vaccinations specifically for travel purposes, but I got told very firmly by family members that I ought to have them for India.  I headed off to the GP, and despite me telling him that this was an “up-market” tour and we wouldn’t be off the beaten track, he strongly advised a number of precautions.   So I ended up with a couple of injections (which also included whooping cough, apparently regarded as essential in the presence of babies) plus a solution to be taken orally for cholera (two doses, taken at least a week apart).

You have to pay for all these, so the all-up cost – not including the consultation – was well over $300, including over $70 for each dose of the cholera vaccine.   I suppose oral vaccines have been around for a while.  In fact, if my memory serves me correctly, we may even have had a polio vaccine when I was a child that was taken orally.  And we were certainly made to drink “cough medicine”.   Be that as it may, it felt a little unusual to mix up an effervescent solution to which is added the vaccine, and then drink it.

The instructions state that the vaccine results in an 85% chance of protection for 6 months, decreasing to 52% at the end of the 2nd year.   Just the same, I won’t be drinking the water!

Christchurch Cathedral

I see that it’s been decided to rebuild Christchurch Cathedral.   I don’t know what it says about New Zealand that it’s taken until now to make a decision in relation to this church, but as I’ve previously blogged, lots of things about post-earthquake Christchurch seem to have taken a long time to decide.

Anyway, I’m glad that the Cathedral is to be reconstructed.   In the meantime, I suppose the “Cardboard  (Transitional) Cathedral” (see below) will continue to be used.

 

“Self driving” lorries

We’ve seen a lot of news about self-driving cars, (and here) but the BBC has carried a report that trials of partially “self-driving” lorries could occur in Britain by the end of next year!  At first sight, this seems intimidating, but reading the article in a little more detail, things become clearer.

At this stage, it seems the idea is to enable the lorries to travel more closely together, with the lead driver controlling acceleration and braking, but the following ones being steered by a driver in each who can also respond to any obstructions.   Given that we already have larger trucks in Australia (“B-doubles” and even longer “road trains” in some parts), I’m not sure whether such arrangements would take off here.

But they do show the direction that technology is heading.   Developments such as these are doubtless only the first step on the way to a lot more automation, perhaps sooner than we realise.

And there was a brief mention of the British proposal in one of the Sunday papers.  The concern was that the technology may be able to be hacked!

I guess anything is possible, but probable?  I think this would be way down the list of worries!

 

 

Even longer non-stop flights?

Well, Qantas has already scheduled non-stop flights from Perth to London, but now has its eye on planes that would be able to fly non-stop from Melbourne and Sydney to New York and London.

It’s not something I would want to endure, no matter what the class of travel.  Yet I suppose the reality is that, in the face of strong competition from other international carriers, this is an opportunity for Qantas to cut out a niche for itself.    Not everyone would want to do this, but if you do decide that’s the way to go, Qantas is most likely going to be your only option.

oBikes

I had to google to find out the concept behind “oBikes”.  I saw that they had attracted adverse publicity   (and here) which didn’t surprise me when I found out that the arrangement is that when you’ve finished using a bike, you just leave it in a public parking area where it’s locked and unlocked remotely via a mobile phone app.   The idea is that users can pick up and drop off a bike “anywhere” they like, as opposed to returning it to a designated docking station.

Seemingly, the system works satisfactorily in Singapore, but in what might be considered less law-abiding Melbourne, it appears that at least some users are less conscientious about parking the bikes properly when they’ve finished using them!   There’s a system of “credits” designed to reward good behaviour and penalise poor behaviour, but it seems we live in an imperfect world.

In a local street

We’re beginning to see them in our area.  I’m not sure if our area is a neighbourhood in which they’re supposed to be used (it wasn’t listed here), but as the website didn’t appear to address this issue, perhaps there are no strict limits (another “challenge”,  I would have thought!).

How it’s meant to be