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48 | AUDLEY TRAVELLER | The Takkyubin luggage  ansfer service sheds light into the Japanese ethos. Lengthy, mul -part forms, exac ng measurement of bag dimensions, the insistence of "cash-only" - it's a challenge to use your credit card in the land of the rising sun - and an u erly infallible service. You say goodbye to your bags one day and the next they wait expectantly for you to walk into your new hotel room. Not having to s uggle down stairways with heavy bags at the Tokyo railway sta on was a bonus but, even if we had, there'd have been space on the bullet  ain.  e e ciency of the Japanese rail service is well known and so we an cipated the unerring accuracy of the  ain's departure as we joined the pa ent queues within their painted boxes on the pla orm  oor. More unexpected was the sight of the pink through emp carriages, emerging in a whirl of white gloves and smiles.  eir happiness was infec ous.A er Tokyo, we entered the warm embrace of a  adi onal ryokan (guesthouse).  e a en on to our weary  aveller needs providing a diversion  om the giggles as we exchanged  en followed the quiet shock of our  rst onsen (bathing) experience - swimming costumes forbidden and towels the size of a handkerchief - slowly subsiding as one slipped into near coma  om the intense, sulphuric heat.  e thought 'bushtucker  ial' popped into my head as our evening meal was served in our room; unfairly so, the varie of food is mesmerising, the presenta on immaculate and the tastes exquisite. We did draw the line at raw octopus for breakfast. "Living happily side-by-side, the old meets the new in Japan"JAPANEmerging once more into the outside world there was a s ange relief to be reunited with our shoes, giving way to regret when turning to see our recent hosts smiling and waving un l we disappeared  om view. Perhaps they wanted to be sure we weren't coming back! From ubiquitous shrine to glitzy shopping dis ict, painted geisha to bullet  ain, pale cherry blossom  ees to the gaudy blue tarpaulins laid beneath them - old meets new, living happily side by side.We embraced the Japanese way. Alone in the cavernous halls of a newly built museum, and a er viewing a collec on of prints by the woodblock master Hiroshige, we came across a basket of wigs and clothing. And so, being completely alone, we dressed up as 18th century peasant  avellers, standing self-consciously in  ont of a landscape tableau. From nowhere, an a endant scurried across the limestone  oor, snapped our picture and  ed. I can s ll hear her laughing.uniformed cleaners gliding e ortlessly jeans and T-shirts for kimonos. Paul and Dawn Noke travelled to Japan with AudleyTraditional icons such as shrines and geisha remain iconic highlightsTRAVELLERS' TALES

AUDLEY TRAVELLER | 49QI would like to experience New Year's Eve abroad and build a trip around it. Ideally we'd go to a city for fi reworks, then travel.A Dyson, OxfordshireNatalie: Look no further than Sydney for the ul mate in New Year's Eve celebra ons.  ere are several loca ons to take in the fes vi es but we would recommend staying near the harbour. From 9pm there is a  o lla of boats with drama c ligh ng and music, followed at midnight by a fantas c  reworks display. Sydney is an excellent base and  om there we can suggest an i nerary to take in other parts of Aus alia. We would advise  avelling in the south of the coun y where the weather is sunny, warm and more reliable this  me of year. Book early as Sydney is a popular des na on for New Year. Also consider: New YorkQ We have two teenage children and would like to go on safari (our fi rst time) during October half term. Where would you advise?J Preston, YorkA Vanessa: Tanzania is a great  rst- me safari des na on. I would suggest you focus  ere are a nice mix of  e value for money is also You can then  y over to South A icaQ My husband and I are both teachers so want to travel A Kimberley: I think that somewhere like Peru would be perfect It is the peak season out It is certainly an exci ng One must-see is world-famous On top of all of this you can Indonesia Sydney's famous harbour is possibly the best place in the world to welcome AYou can get around really easily and e ciently meaning you can have a comfortable four or  ve days of safari and four or  ve days of relaxing on the beach.  e weather is also ideal in October. your safari in the southern na onal parks such as the Selous (read more about the Selous on p26).  ere are fewer visitors here and the  avel logis cs are easier. ac vi es to suit all the family such as game drives, walking safaris, boat  ips and even some  shing. good in this area - the lodges are some of the nicest and the most reasonably priced in all of East A ica.Zanzibar island, roughly an hour away, where you can enjoy the comfort of a lovely beach hotel, relax on the white sand and  y snorkelling or diving on the extensive coral reef. Or head into the capital Stone Town, which has a fascina ng history and also o ers a maze of  ny narrow s eets to explore.Also consider: Qduring the UK summer. We are young and active and enjoy walking, beautiful scenery and the odd bit of wildlife spotting. Any ideas on where may be good for us?C Mitchell, Londonfor you both. there over our summer months so you would actually be visi ng at the best  me of year; it would also be dry up in the Andes for the best mountain views. in the New Yeardes na on to  avel to, with just the right amount of adventure and ac vi to keep you entertained. famous Machu Picchu, the ruined ci amid the mountains, known as the 'jewel in the Inca crown' - the views here are breathtaking. One of the best and most drama c ways to reach Machu Picchu is by  ekking - and there are a range of hikes available to suit people of all energy levels. head to the Amazon rainforest to explore the jungle, with its amazing  ora and fauna.Also consider: or the USAIf you can't make up your mind where to visit next, or simply need a little inspiration, Vanessa, Kimberley and Natalie may just be able to help. Here they answer some of your questionsQ&AVanessaKimberleyNatalieThe panel of expertsIf you would like to speak to Vanessa, Kimberley or Natalie, please call 01993 838 925OVER TO YOU  Q&A