Long way down under Certain television viewers will be familiar with the piercing gaze and cavalier facial hair of likeable celeb traveller Charley Boorman (above), whose televised long-distance motorbike rides with actor chum Ewan McGregor, and a few solo excursions, enjoy endless repeats across many channels. Experienced bikers who fancy joining the Boorman posse can now do so through Australian motorcycle-holiday specialists Compass Expeditions, which is selling a couple of 10-day rides with the man himself up front, riding vanguard. The first departs on February 6, and runs from Sydney to Melbourne, through the Outback, while the second takes place in Tasmania from February 25. Bikes available for rent include several BMW models, the cheapest being the Sertao, for A$6,650 (HK$54,000), and the R 1200 GS for A$7,000. Pillion riders are charged A$4,500 across the board. These prices are for either trip, and include accommodation, food, mechanical support and much else. For further details, visit www.compassexpeditions.com
On the same page While still not fully functional for Hong Kong shoppers, the new iBooks 2.2 app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch seems to have a wider selection of free public-domain books in its library, perhaps to make the virtual bookshelves of the upgraded app, which is bundled with the new iOS 6 software, appear more substantial. Among the free volumes on offer are quite a few interesting 19th and early-20th century travel books, which would comprise a handy little library for connoisseurs of classic travel literature. Among the more notable are: Unbeaten Tracks in Japan, Among the Tibetans and several other works by Isabella Bird; Round the World, by Andrew Carnegie; East of Suez, by Frederic Courtland Penfield; The Art of Travel, by Francis Galton; and most of Lafcadio Hearn's Japanese output, including In Ghostly Japan and Kwaidan (right). All these books are available online in various formats but the simple layout and formatting of the iBooks versions make them very quick and easy to download, with none, or far fewer, of the misspellings that often spoil other free editions.
First resort The city of Yantai, on the Shandong Peninsula, has been popular with Hong Kong tourists since the 19th-century, when it was known as Chefoo (postcards, left), and nicknamed by Anglophiles the Brighton of China. The main port of call on the Shanghai-to-Tientsin (now Tianjin) steamship route, this resort was also the summer base for the American Navy's Asiatic fleet, and was favoured by both sailors and tourists for its healthy climate. China Eastern flights from Hong Kong to Yantai were stopped in October 2006 but are back on again as of this month, with the carrier operating a twice-weekly service with early-evening outward flights and afternoon returns. Bookings can be made at the China Eastern website (hk.ceair.com) but you might find going through a travel agent simpler and less stressful.
Deal of the week A cheap Cathay Pacific Holidays business-class package to Penang, Malaysia (right), goes on sale tomorrow, with prices starting from HK$4,690 for flights, two nights' hillview deluxe accommodation at the Hard Rock Hotel (an extra HK$310 will get you a seaview deluxe, with balcony), breakfast and travel insurance. If you prefer to be in the city, just on the edge of George Town, on Gurney Plaza, is the G Hotel, where extras include free in-room Wi-fi and executive lounge access with personalised check-in, evening cocktails and a few other sweeteners. George Town's default heritage hotel, the Eastern and Oriental (better known as the E&O), is also available, from HK$5,490. These prices - quoted per person, twin share, and available until the end of November - exclude taxes and fuel surcharges, for which you should figure in about an extra HK$775. For further information and reservations, visit www.cxholidays.com