Getting there and things to see and doAirlines flying into Thailand from major Australian cities include ThaiAirways International, Jetstar, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Australia.Australian travellers do not require visas if going for less than 30 days.Amongst many visitor highlights, Thailand offers:• Tropical beaches.• Erawan Shrine and the Grand Palace (Bangkok).• Elephant rides.• Nightlife in Patpong and Patong.• The history of Chiang Mai.• The Bridge on the River Kwai.• Golden statues and Buddhist temples.
Languages and CurrencyThailand’s official language is Thai.Other languages frequently used and heard include Chinese, Malay andMon-Khmer, while in tourist areas common ones include English,Japanese, Russian and German.The currency is the Thai Baht (THB). The symbol of the baht is .As at May 2013 the exchange rate to the Australian dollar (AUD) isapproximately 1AUD = 30THB. 
Food and CuisineFood plays an important role in Thai culture. Social events are oftencentred around food, with dining experiences involving shared banquetsrather than meals served for individuals.Popular Thai dishes and key foods include:• Jasmine rice.• Noodle based dishes• Nam pla is a popular ingredient in many Thai meals.• Local tropical fruit is often served after a meal.Herbs and spices are a popular part of Thai meals, with salty, sweet, spicyand sour flavours all being common.
CultureThe tops of everything, including heads and the top of inanimateobjects, are revered.Placing hands together when greeting people in a prayer-like pose is atraditional and respectful greeting and is called wai.Smiling and laughing helps to get things done, even when you’re unhappywith someone or something.Never criticise or disparage the King, the flag or the royal family as they areuniversally admired.
Getting There/Things to DoMany airlines fly direct from Australia to Mexico, including British Airways,Virgin Atlantic, United Airlines and Qantas.Mexico offers much for the visitor, including:• Mexico City, one of the world’s largest and most insane cities.• Mayan and Aztec temples.• Relax on an Ensenada beach.• Swimming with whale sharks in the Gulf of Mexico.
Languages and CurrencyMexico does not have a single formal national language. The mostcommonly spoken language is Spanish. Over 60 languages are formallyrecognised by the Mexican government. English is commonly used inmetropolitan and tourist areas.Mexico’s national currency is the Mexican peso (written as MXN). Thesymbol of the peso is $ or M$. The exchange rate in May 2013 isapproximately $A1 = M$12.25.US dollars are often accepted in many border towns and touristdestinations.
Food and CuisineFajitas, chimichangas, guacomole, tacos, salsas and nachos are well known.Traditionally, Mexican foodstuffs have been based on corn, bean, squashand chili. Meats can include goat and ostrich in addition to beef andtomatoes and avocado are heavily used. Everyday staples such as tortillasand tamales are amongst the customary offerings on the Day of the Dead.For the adventurous there’s always maguey worms, ants or friedgrasshoppers.
CultureMexican culture varies between the larger, busier cities which are adoptingmore Americanised values and smaller centres, which still adhere to moretraditional values.• Family is at the centre of Mexico’s social structure with the father actingas the head of the family• Authority is highly respected in Mexican culture.• Mexico is a largely catholic nation, with over 82% of Mexicansidentifying with that religion.• Popular music is highly influenced by their Spanish heritage, includingMariachi groups consist of singers, trumpets, violin, marimba andacoustic guitar.
Getting There/What to experienceQatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates all fly direct from Australia toEgypt’s major centres.Egypt is known for its ancient civilisation. Apart from the sphinx and thepyramids at the Giza major attractions include:• The Aswan Dam.• Colossus of Ramses II.• Sailing a felucca down the Nile.• The great library of Alexandria.• British museum in Cairo.• Luxor and the Valleys of the Kings and Queens.
Languages and CurrencyThe national language, since the Muslim takeover, is Egyptian Arabic.The official currency is the Egyptian Pound (EGP), a ‘guinay’ in Arabic andis written as E£ and 1AUD currently buys 6.81 EGP.Small change is hard to come across in Egypt so it is wise to also have carrysome cash in US and Euro dollars, as well as a credit or debit card. 
Food and CuisineEgyptian cuisine mostly consists of vegetarian dishes, breads, dips andseafood (along coastal regions). Meat has historically been too expensivefor Egyptians to sustain it as a core part of their diet.Sharing a selection of different foods is a preferred way to eat.Traditional dishes include:• Rice-stuffed pigeon.• Koshari (a mixture of rice, lentils, macaroni & chickpeas).• Baba ganoush.• Kofta.• Felafel and duqqa (dukkah).
CultureThe majority of Egyptians are Muslims and follow traditional customs suchas fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, praying five times a day andobserving Friday as a holy day.Family always takes precedence over the individual. Respect and honourare important values and social class defines people’s positions and theiropportunities.The presenting or giving of flowers are generally restricted to weddings orillness.
Getting There/Things to DoFlights are available to Rome and Milan through various airlineproviders, including Qatar Airlines, Air China, Qantas and Emirates.Australians can enter Italy for up to 90 days without a visa.Italy is rich with historical icons, such as;•Colosseum (Rome).•Pantheon (Rome).•Galleria degli Uffizi (Florence).•Basilica di San Marco (Venice).•Piazza di Spagna & the Spanish Steps (Rome).•Vatican museums (Rome). 
Food and CuisineItalian food has developed over time, with much of its influence stemmingfrom the ancient Greeks, Romans and Byzantines.Although Italian meals are prepared using many different ingredients, withan emphasis on meats, vegetables and sauces, there are many regionaldifferences in food preferences.Italian cuisine is often known for:• Risotto, more commonly found in the Northern regions.• Its numerous varieties of pastas.• The use of a variety of tomatoes and cheeses.
Languages and CurrencyThe primary language Italian, with numerous regional dialects foundthroughout the country. Many European languages, such asFrench, Franco-Provençal, English, German and Sardinian are commonlyused in Italy.The primary currency in Italy is the Euro, denoted by the symbol €. As atMay 2013 the exchange rate to the Australian dollar (AUD) is approximately1AUD = €0.7721.
CultureFood, fashion, art and architecture are most important to Italians, whobelieve in living life well to the full.Italians pride themselves on the quality of their wine, food and coffee – itis considered offensive to criticise any of these!The majority of Italians are catholic, with the Vatican (within Rome) beingthe spiritual and physical home of the Roman Catholicism.
References Australian Government. 2013. smarttraveller.gov.au. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Thailand. [Accessed 07 May 13]. Kwintessential. 2012. Thailand - Thai Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette . [ONLINE] Availableat: http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/global-etiquette/thailand-country-profile.html?highlight=YToxOntpOjA7czo4OiJ0aGFpbGFuZCI7fQ==. [Accessed 17 May 13].Reserve Bank of Australia. 2013. Exchange Rates. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.rba.gov.au/statistics/frequency/exchange-rates.html. [Accessed 17 May 13]. About.com. 2013. Thai Food. [ONLINE] Available at:http://thaifood.about.com/od/thaifoodandculture/a/foodculture.htm. [Accessed 17 May 13]. currency-converter.com. unknown. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.currency-converter.com.au/.[Accessed 17 May 13]. Kwintessential. 2012. Thailand - Thai Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette. [ONLINE] Availableat: http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/global-etiquette/thailand-country-profile.html?highlight=YToxOntpOjA7czo4OiJ0aGFpbGFuZCI7fQ== . [Accessed 11 May 13]. Webjet. 2013. www.webjet.com.au . [ONLINE] Available at:http://travel.webjet.com.au/webjettsa/home.aspx?TripType=Return&CityFrom=SYD&DateOut=2013%2F5%2F19&CityTo=mexico+city&DateBack=2013%2F5%2F27&TravelClass=ECONOMY&NumAdult=1&NumChild=0&NumInfant=0&EntryPoint=Flight&RequestFrom=Outside. [Accessed 13 May 13]. Australian Government. 2013. smarttraveller.gov.au. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Mexico. [Accessed 16 May 13]. Visit Mexico. 2012. Mexico. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.visitmexico.com/en/. [Accessed 13May 13]. Visit Mexico. 2012. Mexico Gastronomy. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.visitmexico.com/en/cuisine. [Accessed 12 May 13].
References (cont) NationMaster.com. 2012. North America > Mexico. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.nationmaster.com/red/country/mx-mexico/rel-religion&all=1. [Accessed 17 May 13]. http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/global-etiquette/mexico-country-profile.html kwintessential. 2013. Mexico - Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/global-etiquette/mexico-country-profile.html. [Accessed 11May 13]. Australian Government. 2013. smarttraveller.gov.au. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Egypt. [Accessed 07 May 13]. Lonely Planet. 2013. Egypt [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/egypt [Accessed 16May 13]. BELINDA BELINDA
References (cont) Kwintessential. 2012. Egypt - Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/global-etiquette/egypt-country-profile.html?highlight=YToxOntpOjA7czo1OiJlZ3lwdCI7fQ==. [Accessed 17 May 13]. Lonely Planet . 2013. Italy – Getting there & away. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.lonelyplanet.com/italy/transport/getting-there-away#23371 inmamaskitchen.com. Unknown. Food is art. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.inmamaskitchen.com/ITALIAN_COOKING/rome_Lazio/Rome_LAZIO.html Encyclopaedia Brittanica. 2013. Italian cuisine. [ONLINE] Available at:]http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/718430/Italian-cuisine XE. 2013. XE Live Exchange rates. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/convert/?Amount=1&From=AUD&To=EUR&r=1#rates BELINDAAcknowledgementsPhotographs courtesy of http://www.stockvault.net/ (except Slide 2 – from Michael Reyes-Smithpersonal collection)