Ruth Lor Malloy                                       
     
     Ruth Lor Malloy      

     Other Favorite World Destinations 
               Reviewed and Recommended

      

 

China is not the only country I visit. Among other destinations experienced in 2006, I highly recommend the following: the Azores, Alderney, Mongolia and St. Petersburg. The first three are interesting off-the-well-beaten tourist road, with good, clean air especially outside the cities. St. Petersburg is one of the great destinations of the world, not to be missed though many people are avoiding it. As you can guess, I like off-beat places.

The AZORES/ACORES: Over forty years ago, I taught English to Portuguese immigrants to Canada. They urged me to visit their “beautiful” homeland, the Azores. So when the opportunity came to go there recently, I grabbed it immediately.

These islands are in the Atlantic Ocean, 850 kilometres west of Portugal and 1200 kilometres east of New York. In the 16th century, they were a refueling stop for sailing ships from Europe to the New World. Today they are only a five-hour flight from Toronto. Tours are cheap from North America because there are lots of Azoreans eager to visit their families each year. I imagined their islands to be isolated, rustic and quaint.

Our flight from Toronto on SATA the Portuguese airline was good except for the sound system, which wasn’t working. The luggage of a few members of our group didn’t catch up with them for four of our six nights. But it did arrive before we left.

With no heavy industries, this is the place to go if you want to clear out your lungs. There are actually nine islands, each of which you can fly to. Each is different. We only had time for two and wished we could do more. I discovered that most of the immigrants came from a few fishing villages (which alas I didn’t have time to visit.)

In the capital Ponta Delgado on Sao Miguel island, we stayed at the four-star Hotel Marina Atlantico across the street from the harbour. This very comfortable hotel had motion-activated lights in its hallways and CNN and BBC on its room televisions. It was far from rustic. A supermarket stocked with food and wine was nearby. Cars stopped – actually stopped -- for pedestrians on the crosswalk outside. Cruise ships moored a few hundred meters away.

The Azores has no five-star hotels but other four-stars like the Royal Garden Hotel in Ponta Delgado looked good too. And some of them have swimming pools.

From our hotel, we could walk along narrow streets on naval mosaics lined with houses decorated with fancy black, wrought iron balconies. We entered several churches full of exquisite religious art and worshippers. We climbed to a mountainside church with a grand view and visited a museum and botanical garden. Someone told us they still had chaperones accompanying young ladies on dates. This place is still very conservative – which of course makes it attractive and quaint – for visitors.

Ponta Delgado is no tourist factory – with the same restaurants and gem shops you get on a Caribbean cruise. The Azores is unique. For sale are handicrafts made of fish scales, blue and white ceramic dishes and tiles, jeans decorated with embroidery and lace, stylish modern clothes and bags made for the European market – cheap. This is a great place for hiking and golf. We dined in the charming 19th century Hotel do Colegio with its wise-cracking English-speaking manager. I hope to stay there if there’s a next time – there or in a farmhouse.

On the island of Terceira we found ourselves picnicking and doing tai chi inside an extinct volcano. We carefully approached bubbling and steaming springs. Fields were full of Holstein cows, tea and pineapples. Fences were piled-up volcanic stones. Lakes were jade green. We visited a folk museum, coffee plantation, and the Terra Nostra Garden full of exotic flowers and topiary, and found a solitary Canada goose amid lush tree ferns. Views of dramatic cliffs, white surf and blue ocean kept our cameras busy.

We ate in beautiful restaurants (one of which was in an old fort). Once we watched food stewing in pots in an active volcano and dined on it afterwards. We frequently sipped delicious passion fruit liquor and wine from its many vineyards. We could have gone whale or bird watching, scuba-diving and deep sea fishing. There wasn’t time neither to try these nor to find out about the mysterious Cult of the Holy Ghost. Give yourself at least four days for a relaxing time on each of these two islands. Add more time to go to the other seven.

Except for the sea food which was cooked perfectly, we found the food generally good but uninteresting and bland. (They do need help in this department.) Our hotel was comfortable and international class. The Hotel do Caracol in Terceira was a long walk from the enticing shops downtown but it too was on the seaside.

We were told that five years ago the European Union gave a lot of help to develop tourism in the Azores and it shows. It still has its own laid-back, 17th century flavour, but the facilities are modern. The old Portuguese architecture is unspoiled by high rises though it has some of those too. This is not a Macau struggling to keep its unique architectural heritage. These islands have kept their heritage. And they are great to visit.

For more information, visit: www.visitportugal.com  . My trip was subsidized by the Portuguese tourist office. –
RLM, DATE, May, 2006.


Ponta Delgada's waterfront at dawn.  San Miguel Island.  Azores.

Cooks gingerly take a pot of stew out of a volcano
where it has been cooking. 

Tourists looking on will eat it later in a nearby restaurant.

Lace-decorated jeans for sale in the Azores,
a combination of cultures. 

 

Copyright © 2006 by Ruth Lor Malloy All rights reserved

ALDERNEY We went here to visit friends but found this island wonderful because of its friendly people, isolation, clean air, and interesting history and monuments. It is in the British channel only 15 or so kilometres from France and not easy to get to. The population is 2400.

The place is full of the ruins of British and German forts and the relics of many wars so there’s good hiking and great sea views. The houses, churches and streets are from another century. It has several good restaurants, tiny hotels and B&Bs and tour guides who can explain its interesting but sad wartime history. Thankfully, there are no restaurant and hotel chains. And the language of course is English.

We took a taxi to Southhampton from Heathrow airport in London to catch a flight on a 12-seat plane which leaves twice a day. We would otherwise have to change trains several times. The luggage allowance on the flight was only 15 kilograms. Then there’s the weather. Fog delayed our return flight two days and we ended up taking a small 27 foot boat to nearby Guernsey, a ferry to Weymouth, and another taxi back to Heathrow airport. It was not cheap – but it was an adventure and Alderney was worth all the suspense and hassle.

For more information: http://www.alderney.gov.gg/index.php/pid/76  . – RLM, DATE May, 2006.

Downtown Alderney.
This quaint island issues its own currency and postage stamps.  It is not part of the U.K. but directly under the British crown. 

A trip to Alderney shows the folly of war amid beautiful countryside.  A high percentage of the military budget of several countries
was spent here uselessly. 

Copyright © 2006 by Ruth Lor Malloy All rights reserved

ST. PETERSBURG One of the world’s great tourist attractions, this Russian city was formerly known as Leningrad, It was built by “Peter the Great” whose palaces there are still well maintained – unlike most buildings in the rest of the country. And the Hermitage, Peterhoff, the museums and cathedrals are well worth at least four days. Privately-run restaurants downtown are abundant and quite good. Prices are generally high. Champagne and caviar are cheap in supermarkets. Visas take two weeks to get and are expensive. We got there by a five-hour train from Helsinki but there are lots of flights from European cities.

Government hotels have poor service so aim for small, privately-run ones. And watch out for pickpockets as you would in most European cities.

But a stop here is a once-in-a-life time experience. You can see for yourself what caused the Russian revolution. But you can enjoy the opulent results of Peter’s and Catherine’s reigns. The Romanovs did have a taste for spectacular, beautiful buildings, paintings, sculptures, and fountains. I recommend that you learn the Cyrillic alphabet so you can read signs. Learning Russian would be even better.

Our arrangements in St. Petersburg including the train from Helsinki, hotel, guide and visas were made through Intours Corporation in Toronto who tried its best to put us into a small hotel, the Regina. When it couldn’t, our only choice was the huge, soviet-style Pribaltiyskaya with its reluctant service but edible food. It was on the sea shore, close to several supermarkets, and one decent nearby Chinese restaurant. We learned how to take a shuttle bus and mini-bus from the downtown palaces, a long way away. If there is a next time, we will start trying to book a hotel six months in advance. The smaller, better hotels are hard to book during the June-August tourist season.

We were followed closely downtown by scruffy-looking children. Our guide warned us about possible pickpockets, and the difficulty of going by subway.

Our guide was great and knowledgeable with good English. We did request sightseeing on the day we arrived, but an escort who spoke no English took us to the hotel instead. Aside from that, the trip went well. The privately-run Intours is the successor of the old Intourist. Its web-site is: www.tourussia.com . --– RLM DATE: June, 2006.

Winter Palace, St. Petersburg Peterhoff was Peter the Great's summer palace
 

Copyright © 2006 by Ruth Lor Malloy All rights reserved

MONGOLIA I hesitate to recommend Mongolia because I love it the way it currently is. I would hate to have it spoiled by mass tourism. When we were there it didn’t have any international fast food or hotel chains, thank goodness. Ulaan Baatar has excellent museums, lots of antique stores, and an assortment of international restaurants. You don’t have to eat only mutton. We had Indian food, pizza, and German. U.B. also has a lot of fresh fruit stalls. But it does have minor traffic jams (not as bad as China’s) and some air pollution.

The countryside is a whole different story. A twenty-minute drive from the capital Ulaan Baatar can take you to places with nothing but fence-free grasslands, gentle hills, horses, sheep, and goats. The country has 30 million animals. The human population is two million, half urban and half rural. The area is four times the size of France so as you drive around, you will be in places where you see no other human beings. It’s an amazing feeling.

Except near the towns, you are also out of cell phone range. You can’t find decent fruit anywhere (imported mainly from China and available only in U.B.) But if it’s July, you might suddenly see a horseman – no a horse boy – practising for the annual Naadam festival that determines the best archers, wrestlers and horses in the country. These are high on the list of skills that determine a person’s success or failure here, especially the horse racing. The Naadam festival is worth seeing, and if you’re a horse lover, this is heaven. .

In the summer, the most comfortable time to visit weather-wise, you can approach tiny collections of two or three gers in the countryside. A ger or yurt is a round felt one-room cottage. It takes Mongolians only a couple of hours to pack up these dwellings and follow their herds from pasture to pasture. Mongolians are usually happy to let you photograph their brightly coloured furniture, family pictures and sheep shearing. Some gers have solar panels and television sets. They will offer you something to eat and in summer, give you home-made bread, cheese or a cup of health-giving fermented mares’ milk.

I found no one expecting anything in return. Many will even let you ride one of their horses – for free. They are generous people indeed.

During the day, you can watch the weather approaching. At night, the sky sparkles with stars you cannot see in a big city. Sunrises and sunsets can fill you with enough health-giving beauty to comfort you through a cold winter.

But there is a downside. While it’s a wonderful place to take children to actually see wild horses living free, you might find yourself a long way from the nearest doctor. Being out of telephone range has its advantages and disadvantages.

Inside the capital, you can stay in a well-located and adequate hotel like the Bayangol for about US$130 for a triple with breakfast. Outside Ulaan Baatar, hotels are sub-standard and cheap. We once paid $12 for a double. All have electricity, but a few lacked hot water even in the evenings and most had terrible maintenance. We frequently had to insist on a change of room because of broken windows, toilets and locks.

In the countryside, we preferred to stay in ger tourist camps so we could ride horses and go for long walks. Be prepared to share one bath house with all the other travelers. Having to use a bathroom 30 meters away is an opportunity to see the night sky, but it can be an uncomfortable experience if it rains and the electric power is turned off.

In the north around beautiful Lake Hovsgol, the summer night can be deliciously cool. While it is great to have an attendant make a wood fire at night and first thing in the morning, rain falling into your bed room through the ger’s chimney hole can be a challenge you might not want to deal with. Still, it is part of the adventure of getting back to a world of using airplanes that depend on sight not radar.

But at Hovsgol, you can ride a reindeer and meet reindeer people who live in real tepees like those used by North American Indians. While it is wonderful to wake up some days to the sound of yaks or horses chomping on grass outside your door, just make sure your kids stay away from them unless supervised. These big animals are not in a petting zoo.

Still, Mongolia is a great place for people who want to challenge themselves. It is not for people who want name-brand shopping and big chain restaurants though McDonald’s and Holiday Inn might appear soon. It is for those who want to broaden their world.

Our trip was arranged from Beijing by Monkey Business Infocentre, Room 35, Red House Hotel, 10 Chun Xui Lu, Dongzhimenwai, Chaoyang District, Beijing. Tel. 10 – 6591-6591. E-mail: monkeychina@compuserve.com  . Web-site: http://www.monkeyshrine.com . There is a 30 hour train or 2 ¼ hour flight to Ulaan Baatar from China’s capital. – RLM, DATE June, 2006.

The Mongolian wrestlers' costume proves that the combatants
are men, not women.
Once upon a time, a woman beat the men at their own game. 
This could be a scene out of the 14th century.

The opening ceremonies of the annual
Naadam festival featured horsemen in
beautiful uniforms. Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia.

To meet some of the Tsaatan or  reindeer people,  means a trip to Lake Hovsgol in northern Mongolia near Siberia, a tourist area.  Enkhtuya here has 15 reindeer.

 

Copyright © 2006 by Ruth Lor Malloy All rights reserved* * *

Among other destinations experienced in 2005, I highly recommend the following.
Jasper (Alberta, Canada) and Via Rail’s Snow Train, Fort McMurray (Alberta, Canada), and Montserrat  (Caribbean).

For more information on the services we used or heard about: 
Snowmobiling Tours. Web-site: www.jaspersnowmobiletours.com  . E-mail: Curries@telusplanet.net.
       Tel. 780-852-5650. 
Skiing: Marmot Basin. www.skimarmot.com  . Tel. 780-852-3816. See also: www.skijaspercanada.com
      Tel. 1-800-473-8135 or 780-852-5247. 
Dog-sledding: Amanda Sinclair, Cold Fine Creek Dog Sledding. Tel. 187-7295-8505 
      Web-site: cfcdogsledding@yahoo.com.  
Jasper Tourism web-site: www.jaspercanadianrockies.com  . E-mail: jaspercc@incentre.net  . 
Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge: web-site: www.fairmont.com  . Tel. 780-852-3301. 
Sawridge Inn and Conference Centre. Web-site: www.sawridge.com  . Tel. 780-852-5111.
Alberta Tourism office web-site: www.TravelAlberta.com  .
Train. Via Rail: Tel. 1-800-Via-Rail. Web-site: www.viarail.ca  and www.snowtraintojasper.com  . 
Flights: Westjet. Web-site: www.westjet.com  . 
Buses: Mountain Connector: Tel. 1-888-786-3641 or 780-852-4056 or e-mail: info@mountainconnector.com  .
       Sundog Tours. Tel. 1-888-786-3641 or 780-852-4056. E-mail: info@sundogtours.com

Here are Some Images from Jasper


Mountain-top highs with snowmobiling 


Dog-sledding in Jasper 


Dome car on Via Rail

Copyright © 2006 by Ruth Lor Malloy All rights reserved

Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada
Northern lights/aurora borealis, oil sands, giant mining machinery, dog sleds, Dene native guide, kayaking, canoeing, northern Alberta, Canada, March and family vacations. Visited in March, 2005. 

I chose Fort McMurray because I wanted to learn about one of the largest oil deposits in the world. Was it a good place to invest? A friend wanted to work there so he could drive the world’s largest trucks and machinery. Wages are high. I was also attracted by the possibility of photographing Northern Lights. 

I found an excellent interpretation centre, the Oil Sands Centre, where you can sit in the driver’s seat of some of the giant machines. A volunteer gave us a simple, clear demonstration of how oil is extracted. A toddlers’ play area with a switch showed how crude oil is transported by pipes to refineries in Edmonton. You can find giant machines on its grounds outside.

We were only able to drive around the giant Syncrude plant. It has tours in summer, not winter. It is one of the two major oil sands plants there. 

Unfortunately, clouds obscured the Northern Lights and we didn’t see any until our late evening plane flew back to Edmonton. We had spent two evenings from 10pm to 2:30am, (fortunately indoors), waiting in vain for Nature’s show to begin. Johan Louw, the Fort McMurray outfitter, did provide hot chocolate, a bon-fire, marshmallows and games to pass the time while we waited. He also provided warm jump suits and boots as the night temperature at the time was down to minus 11C (12 Fah.) 

Locals say, the auroras are best at minus 40 C. (-40 Fah.). Unless I can find a cheaper, better alternative, I hope to return for another try and be more flexible. Johan says he had a 95% success rate for his 40 tours between September and March, 2004-5. We were just not lucky. 

Yes, you can see auroras in other places, even in the south, but those in the north around Ft. McMurray are especially strong and spectacular. The town is easily accessible by Westjet flights, less than an hour from Edmonton. You can also drive there. 

The other advantage of using Johan’s Alta-Can Aurora Adventures is the availability of experienced photographer Bill Rockwell who can give advice on how to capture the elusive, magical, constantly moving lights, some of which look and wave like giant curtains in the sky. It can also arrange dog sled tours and a wilderness tour led by a Dene native, Harvey Scanny, who pointed out lynx, fox, rabbit, and moose tracks in the snow, and a couple of beaver houses. He also showed us the birch bow and willow arrows he made (with metal heads) and a pine shelter, and lit a fire with flint. Ask for a demo of his moose-mating call. It was roasted marshmallow time here too. Children would love it. 

Oil Sands Discovery Centre staff told us about flying by float plane with canoe or kayak upstream in warmer weather and then floating downstream through rapids, an experience that sounds great but I wouldn’t try it without a guide. “We don’t feel the mosquitoes or black flies any more, ” said Diane Hunter, but I would take bug repellent, long trousers and sleeves, and even a net hat in summer. 

We stayed at the Sawridge Inn at the edge of town conveniently across the road from the Oil Sands Centre. It was about a 10-minute drive from the downtown mall and restaurants and was very four-star pleasant. Service and food were good and it had a small indoor pool. Locals said the Holiday Inn was second best. The town has a population of 50,000 and it and its number of hotels and guest houses are growing quickly. We also found lots of Japanese tourists who never see auroras at home. 

Helpful contacts: 
Wood Buffalo, Fort McMurray. Tel. 780-743-7000. Web-site: www.woodbuffalo.ab.ca  .
Tourism Office web-site: Tel. 1-800-565-3947. 
Oil Sands Discovery Centre: http://www.oilsandsdiscovery.com/oil_sands_story/pdfs/vastresource.pdf  or
       http://www.oilsandsdiscovery.com/oil_sands_story/facts.html  . 
Johan Louw or Emiko Kinoshita, Alta-Can Aurora Tours, Tel. Edmonton, 780-452-5187. 
       E-mail: sales@altacan.ab.ca  . Website: www.altacan.ab.ca  . 
Provincial tourist information web-site: www.TravelAlbertaNorth.com/vg  .
Bill Rockwell. E-mail: billrockwell@shaw.ca  and www.skywonderphotography.com  . Tel. 780-799-1838. 
       Sawridge Inn, Tel. 780-791-7900, 1-800-661-6567. Web-site: www.sawridge.com  . 
       Holiday Inn. Web-site: www.holiday-inn.com  . Tel. 780-714-9444. Toll-free: 1-877-714-9444. 

Here is an Image from Ft. McMurray


Some of the big machines you can see in Fort McMurray

Montserrat
I knew nothing about this Caribbean island except for its 1997 volcanic eruption. The choice was my husband’s and I was a little worried about earthquakes and explosions. But I need not have fretted. Our six days there in January, 2005 was one of the most interesting experiences I have ever had. A visit to the Observatory and its web-site and talks with local residents assured us there was no danger. We felt no earthquakes and only once for a second, smelled some sulphur. If an eruption was brewing, the Observatory would know in advance. 

We learned a lot about volcanoes, observatories, and Sir George Martin’s Air Studios where the likes of the Beatles and Sting made their recordings. We found hiking trails through its green hills, and swam off its black sand beaches. We hired a car to get around. We even took a walk past signs warning us to stay out of the former capital Plymouth. This town in the southern part of the British colony is now covered with lava and mud up to and over most of its gills. It was dangerous, yes, but with a guide who had been born there, we were careful to avoid places that might collapse. It was better than walking through Pompeii because we could relate to the people who had lived there. We walked passed the old courthouse, half of its second-storey clock obscured by mud. It could be completely inundated in a year as each rain storm brings more mud down the mountain. Fortunately, no one was killed in Plymouth because of an early enough evacuation. 

The scenery was great, much of the island beautiful and green with dramatic cliffs. The Vue Pointe Hotel where we stayed was four-star excellent and hosts Cyril and Carol Osborne and staff were very hospitable, a great inspiration as they fought to overcome three natural disasters in the last ten years to save their beloved island. We learned a lot about volcanos and how people react under adverse conditions. We learned about its future as people have started buying property here again and the Tourism Board plans a new golf course. 

The closest major airport is in Antigua. A passenger helicopter flies 15 minutes twice daily from there if the pilot can see where he’s flying. One hour ferry service from Antigua usually goes twice a day. A new airport should open soon if not already. 

There’s one other good hotel besides the Vue Pointe. The 18-room Tropical Mansion Suites has smaller grounds and is in the northern part of the island near the ferry quay and airport. Apartments, guest houses, and bed and breakfast places are also available. The Vue Pointe is in Old Towne near Salem inside the safe zone with a view of the volcano. Tel. (664) 491-5210. E-mail: vuepointe@candw.ms . Web-site: www.vuepointe.com .  

Travel agents and hotels in Antigua can book day tours to Montserrat but it’s better to stay more than one night to get a feel for the island and its cheerful, helpful people. 

For more information:
Tourist Information from the Montserrat Tourist Board, Tel. (664) 491-2230, e-mail: mrattouristboard@candw.ag  .
       Web-site: www.visitmontserrat.com  . 
Montserrat Observatory Web-site: www.mvo.ms/
       Here you can get up-to-the minute reports on the state of the volcano. 
Local resident Jim Lee will take visitors on a tour of Plymouth in return for a donation to the Seventh-Day Adventist
       school he has started. His telephone number is: (664)491-6847.

Here are Some Images from Montserrat



Walking through the abandoned capital of Plymouth

 
Cedric and Carol Osborne of the Vue Pointe Hotel


All that is apparent of the two-story court house in Plymouth

Travelling With An Inexpensive Cell Phone
It must have been fate. Earlier this year I had been wondering about taking a mobile telephone to eight different countries. I was going to remote areas of China, the Azores, Mongolia, Chile and China and I wanted to be able to telephone in case of emergencies. But I had a limited budget and didn’t want to pay expensive roaming charges. In addition, with my unlocked pay-as-you go telephone, I would have to spend precious time finding a local SIM card merchant and buying memory in every country. How does one say SIM card in Russian?

I supposed I could borrow a phone from a local tour guide but I was not travelling all the time with a guide.

Then out of the blue came one of those offers that travel writers get from companies looking for publicity. “The Mobal World Phone will work in China and Mongolia, e-mailed Michael Furniss who asked if I wanted to give one a try, “but there is not total coverage… The phone should certainly work in the larger cities areas.”

Michael said I would get US$100 of free air time to try his phone which sells for US$99. It only needed one SIM card. Was it true? Could I call without a change of card from the mid-Atlantic islands of the Azores and the middle of the Pacific’s Easter Island? And what was the catch?

This phone had high calling fees but it was payment only for use. If I telephoned from one end of Beijing to the other, it would cost US$1.50 a minute. If I phoned Toronto from Mongolia, it would cost US$4.95 a minute. From the U.K. to New York, it would be $1.50 a minute. But with no need to change SIM cards, I immediately said yes and vowed to use it only for emergencies. And sometime during my trips, I would learn how to use text messaging. That only cost US80 cents a message.

The phone was great in the Azores my first stop. I suddenly had to apply for a convention in a hurry, and I took the opportunity to call my husband in Toronto a couple of times. The audio was clear, just like at home. In the U.K.’s Channel Island, fog delayed us and we had to cancel one appointment and book hotels while on a phoneless ferry. We made one call on it to our friends in Finland but with a US$8.95 a minute charge for calling Toronto from Russia, we were glad we didn’t have to use it there.

In China, the phone was handy for communicating from taxis when stuck in traffic jams or contacting a restaurant to give the driver an address in Chinese. It was also great not having to dash downstairs in cheap provincial hotels to pay a deposit to make one local call.

In Mongolia, I compared Mobal’s service with that of our guide and fellow travelers. We could all connect within a kilometre of towns as small and remote as Moron near the Siberian border, but none of us could phone from ger or yurt camps out in the countryside where no one but a few pasturalists and thousands of horses, sheep and goats lived. We did however find electricity in most camps for recharging.

At Mongolia’s Lake Hovsgol, we stayed at a camp where the closest means of communication, a fixed phone, was five kilometres away. One of the guides fell off a horse and opened up stitches from a two-week old appendectomy. No one had a phone that could reach a doctor from our camp. The unfortunate man had to hitch a ride to town. Riding horses, reindeer and yak are always a risk. Fortunately, we didn’t need a phone there.

Easter Island or Rapa Nui is the remotest place in the world. It only has a population of a couple thousand and is a tiny 173 square kilometres. It is at least 1900 kilometres from other human settlements and 3700 kilometres from Chile of which it is a part. It is so remote that Mobal doesn’t have it on its web map. I didn’t know if its phone would work there.

We were there because my husband is an archaeologist. I tagged along because of its famous mysteries We tried to telephone Toronto from some of the statues but alas, the “moai” did not co-operate. We were well over a couple of kilometres away from the town where most of its people live. We did manage to connect with Toronto from there. It was there too that I checked our hotel which charged $4 or $5 a minute for an international call. The call on my Mobal was only $3.95 a minute.

Ruth and Mike on Easter Island trying to get
communications to Toronto on a cell phone

The bill for all my telephone calls from eight different countries over a total period of three months came to about US$100. I didn’t have time nor the incentive to learn text messaging but I will do so and will make a note to compare hotel telephone rates on future trips. I have even used my Mobal in the U.S. and at home in Canada. I don’t chat much on a mobile and I don’t want to keep putting money every month into a pay-as-you-go phone I hardly use. I can keep the same telephone number without charge too, even when I don’t use it for months.
 

What about a satellite phone for remote travel? During a previous visit to Mongolia, we met some archaeologists who had one at a camp in the middle of nowhere. Their phone was cumbersome and someone had stolen their batteries. They were too far from anywhere to buy more. Fortunately, they knew we were visiting so asked us to bring a new supply. My friend also gave them a gizmo that recharged their phone from the lighter of a running truck. It was not as light as a Nokia.

So even though I won’t be able to telephone from Mount Everest on my Mobal, I guess I’ll stick with it. Besides, who wants to take all the adventure out of travelling?

You can contact Mobal at: www.mobalrental.com  .
– RLM. DATE: November, 2006.

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