Swire Group

Travellers' checks

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 August, 2011, 12:00am

Take me to the edge

The world's tallest free-standing structure when it was built in 1976 (when the tallest building in Hong Kong was the now-dwarfed 179-metre-high Jardine House), Toronto's 553-metre-high CN Tower (above) is still the tallest in the western hemisphere. Thrills aplenty await, then, for visitors to the new EdgeWalk experience, which began earlier this month around the tower's 356-metre- high restaurant roof. Similar to the Skywalk X at Macau Tower, but 123 metres higher and more than twice as expensive, at about HK$1,400 a go, the EdgeWalk involves a 30-minute hands-free-but-harnessed stroll and about an hour of safety instruction and preparation. For bookings and further details about the EdgeWalk, which will be closed from November to April, visit www.edgewalkcntower.ca.

Passage to India

Rumours suggest Cathay Pacific has applied to resume flights to the Indian city of Calcutta, after a break of more than 40 years. Since those last flights, in 1970, the metropolis has changed the least among all major Indian cities - thanks to the state of West Bengal having been run by a communist government from 1977 to May of this year. The new chief minister of the state, Mamata Banerjee, has pledged to turn Calcutta into a 'second London', with a massive beautification project along the city's Hooghly River, inspired by the riverfront development of the British capital. A 'Calcutta Eye' ferris wheel, art galleries, museums, an open-air theatre and landscaped waterfront promenades are planned for the 'heritage cultural zone', and advertising billboards have been banned around faded colonial-era buildings, in an effort to polish up the past. Some local commentators are already bemoaning the imitation of London, with one pointing out that Calcutta has 'a life, it has human soul that London does not have', while others doubt the project will ever happen. Either way, time may be running out for visitors to experience one of the great and arguably most beautiful Indian cities in all its chaotic glory before the developers move in. Until Cathay gets the go-ahead, the easiest way to get to Calcutta from Hong Kong is on daily Thai Airways flights via Bangkok.

Universal appeal

Travelling Trekkies will be pleased to learn that a tourist development featuring a Star Trek-themed amusement park has been confirmed for the Jordanian town of Aqaba, located on the Red Sea coast. The country's King Abdullah is a fan of all things related to the various series, and has even appeared in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, so the way ahead is likely to be smooth for the scheduled opening, in 2014.

Side trips

The Opposite House hotel in Beijing is running a new sightseeing tour around the city using a classic Chang Jiang ('long river') motorbike and sidecar. Based on a 1930s BMW design, the Chinese-made CJ750 (top) and its rider will whisk you off on a four-hour trip that can be tailored to your requirements. A package that includes one night's accommodation with breakfast and the bike tour is priced at 2,900 yuan (HK$3,470) for one person and 3,700 yuan for two will be available until the end of next month. For more details and reservations, go to www.theoppositehouse.com.

Deal of the week

Farrington American Express Travel is selling a cheap two-night business class package to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for departure between August 26 and September 30, but bookings must be made by tomorrow. Prices, which include round-trip, business-class flights on Dragonair, start from HK$4,690 with a room at the Sunway Hotel (phnompenh.sunwayhotels.com) but the InterContinental (below; www.ichotelsgroup.com), Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra (www.sofitel.com) and Raffles Hotel Le Royal (www.raffles.com) are better overall value from HK$4,790, HK$4,990 and HK$5,290, respectively. Breakfast and travel insurance are included in these rates, which are quoted per person, twin-share. For reservations, visit www.amextravel.com.hk or call 3121 3121 and quote package ID: L2011PNHU209.