Friday, 28 May 2010

Transport special #2: expert recommendations

This is the second of my three stories that got spiked by Monocle magazine after being commissioned for its transport special (June issue out now on quality news stands around the world - yes, even here in Delhi at Khan Market). Here, the brief was to find someone involved in the travel/transport industry and have them provide recommendations. I immediately thought of Intrepid Travel, a tour operator based in Melbourne that I profiled for a television story back in my ABC days. It's quite an impressive outfit, famous mostly for running off-the-beaten-track type tours in south east Asia, although now has a portfolio of trips all over the world. They also at one point ran a tour in East Timor, one of the world's great undiscovered and untapped tourism markets, with its pristine and sparkling beaches, excellend snorkelling and diving opportunities and misty, coffee-growing hills, although canned it after a short time because of a lack of interest. Shame, as I really, really wanted to do it.

Geoff Manchester, co-founder, Intrepid Travel

1. Who is leading the way in terms of developing forms of transport that are really taking the world in the right direction?

The travel industry can’t ignore climate change. I admire Rob Fyfe, Air New Zealand CEO, as under his control, the airline operated the first test flight of a commercial airline running on jatropha-based biofuel. It gives hope that an environmentally-friendly alternative to fuel is not far away.

2. Favourite airport?

Singapore has the world's best airport. While most airports just push the same overpriced luxury products and uninspired food, Singapore airport has actually put a lot of thought into the facilities travelers actually need, such as free wifi, massage chairs, a swimming pool and a variety of food options.

3.Favourite rail station/ country in which to travel by rail?

I love Thailand’s sleeper trains, which have bunk bends on either side of a corridor. After drinks and a meal, the train crew convert the seats into a bed with sheets and a pillow. It's really quite comfortable, and you can talk with all the other passengers.

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