Destination of the week: Walk on New York's wild side
America's largest city is the most popular long-haul destination for British travellers. But a volunteering trip from Earthwatch this summer will open up a side of the city that few visitors – or residents – ever see.
A surprising number of birds, small mammals, amphibians and other wildlife live alongside the 8.3 million people in New York City; including raccoons, deer, bats, foxes and turtles, according the charity Earthwatch (01865 318 831; www.earthwatch.org/europe). Volunteers can help scientists investigate which plants and animals live in protected areas in and around the city.
Nine-day volunteering trips start on 19 July and 2 August, and cost £1,195. This includes training, food and accommodation in a farmhouse overlooking the Long Island Sound, but not flights – which are likely to cost £600-£700 from London.
Warning of the week: Bangkok
The Foreign Office has stepped up its warnings for visitors to the Thai capital. A few days ago, it says: "Large groups of demonstrators set up camp around Government House in central Bangkok and there have been minor outbreaks of violence reported. You should exercise caution and avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings of people." The official advice also says: "There is a high threat from terrorism in Thailand." In particular, the Foreign Office warns you should not travel to, or through, the far southern provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla, where there is continuing violence due to insurgency and civil unrest. "Since January 2004," the advice continues, "there have been almost daily attacks in the far south. These include arson, bombings and shootings. All rail services from Bangkok now terminate at Hat Yai in Songkhla province."
And, if you were planning to travel on two wheels, it warns: "On average 38 people a day die in motorcycle accidents in Thailand."
Bargain of the week: Calais
The "forgotten" destination on the Eurostar network (08705 186 186; www. eurostar.com) is Calais, gateway to the Opal Coast. The train from London St Pancras takes only 54 minutes, making this the only overseas destination accessible from the capital in under an hour by any form of transport. Fares start at £55 return. The cheap seats are often scarce because Calais gets only two or three trains a day. Much cheaper options are available by sea from Dover; SeaFrance is offering a day return for just £6 for foot passengers, with longer stays by car for £58 return.