Travelers' Intercom

In April ’03 we were scheduled to depart for China on a tour with China Focus Travel (870 Market St., Ste. 1215, San Francisco, CA 94102; phone 415/788-8660, fax 415/788-8665 or visit Two weeks prior to our departure, China Focus canceled our tour due to the SARS outbreak. They did it to protect their customers and at a great financial loss to themselves. Within weeks they had mailed us a check for a complete refund.

We have talked and read of other tour...


Just as our July ’03 issue arrived with Randy Keck’s article on Transylvania (Romania), we were about to leave on a self-planned trip covering the same sites. These are our observations, to augment his.

Hotels were all quite good, with Casa Viorel (phone 40-268-262-431) in Poiana Brasov being outstanding. The largest hotel we stayed in was the only place we found that accepted credit cards, but ATMs were available in every town we visited.

Food was a different story. About...


In May 2000 we visited Solo on the island of Java in Indonesia. We particularly enjoyed Solo because it is a classic, traditional Javanese city, especially in regard to the music scene. Our favorite venue was the Sriwedari Theatre, a huge hall with live performances of gamelan and colorful comedy and drama every night between 8 and 10 p.m. Because the entry fee was only about 20¢, mostly natives were in attendance.

Also, on Friday mornings at the local Kraton (palace), there was a...


“Grandmothers shouldn’t be doing work like this,” the little Chinese boy said as he took the shovel from me and laid it down. With his small hand in mine, he led me over to a log and indicated I should sit down.

I knew this 3-year-old child. We had met several days earlier when our group of Global Volunteers walked the red clay “main” road in An Shang, China, a village over two rough hours’ drive west of Xi’an.

Eleven of us were in the village in April-May ’02 to work with...


When we planned a romantic visit to the Italian lakes area, we expected lake views, islands, gardens, great food and lots of wine. We did not expect to see a beautiful, modern monument honoring the victims of September 11.

On our visit in the first two weeks of September ’03, there were just 11 of us assorted Americans plus Patti, our guide and mentor. We all met in Milan and soon were transported by our driver, Matteo, to Lake Como, followed by Lake Maggiore and then the resort town...


In the last few issues we’ve printed many letters from readers sharing advice on using Internet cafés while traveling. This is the last of four parts on the subject. We could not print all the mail we received, but we thank everyone who took the time to write. If there is something yet to add, send your remarks to Internet Cafés Info, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818, or e-mail (please include your surface-mail address).

I’ve used cybercafés on...


In July-August ’03, my friend Carol and I traveled in Uganda and Ethiopia with arrangements we had found on the Internet and booked by e-mail. Making the arrangements was a real pleasure, especially remembering the difficulties of arranging travel to Africa even a few years ago using slow mail and poor phone/fax connections.

This came about because we were going to be in Ethiopia on a medical tour for two weeks in August anyway, so we decided to do some additional traveling on our own...


I found Istanbul as interesting as ever on my eighth trip to my favorite city. Istanbul is all about the people in the streets, both past and present. If you are not too timid, you should stay where the Turkish people are — bustling about the streets in the Sirkeci district (pronounced Sirkajee). From there you can walk anywhere you would want to visit.

If you go off-season (October through April) you will have a choice of hotels with no need to make reservations. May and November...