On The Road

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 September, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 September, 1997, 12:00am

Travellers at Singapore's Changi Airport with time to spare can divert themselves with free two-hour tours sponsored by local travel interests.

One tour involves a 20-minute cruise on the Singapore River in a covered sampan, and also includes a visit by bus to Katong, a residential area of the city.

When weather is bad, this tour visits Singapore's marina and colonial district, as well as the local Muslim and Chinese business areas.

A second tour takes travellers to the Changi Prison Chapel and Museum, which contains memorabilia from the Japanese occupation during World War II, and a Taoist temple in Tampines New Town, a suburban district.

There are nine tour departures daily, starting at 10 am and ending at 7 pm; visitors can sign up for them in Changi's transit lounge. They are open to travellers on any airline who will be in transit longer than four hours.

Virgin Group's Virgin Atlantic Airways has big - if distant - plans for the 16 Airbus A340-600s it recently leased.

The aircraft, which Virgin will begin to fly in 2002, will feature a new premium class of service that will offer passengers private bedrooms with double beds in the forward lower deck of the plane, as well as a bar, lounge, showers, and an exercise and massage area in the aft lower deck.

An airline spokesman said these planes would fly initially on the carrier's longest routes, from London to California, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Some of the finest Byzantine treasures in the world, dating back to the 12th century, dwell secretly in the remote monasteries of Mount Athos in northern Greece, where women have always been forbidden, and where even male pilgrims and scholars may examine selected artworks for only extremely brief periods.

Now the Holy Community of Mount Athos has agreed to let out 600 of these masterpieces for six months for display in the new Museum of Byzantine Civilisation, which opened in Salonika in June.