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Travellers' checks

 

In-flight fancies Back in April 1925, Imperial Airways treated passengers on a flight from Croydon Aerodrome to Paris to the world's first screening of an in-flight movie. The aircraft was a twin-engine Handley Page W8b biplane (right), which was flown by two pilots seated in an open cockpit and could carry just 12 passengers. It was also the first passenger plane fitted with a toilet as standard; but on this occasion that facility seems to have been occupied by the projectionist, who screened the silent version of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World. You can find a two-minute newsreel about the one-off event on YouTube; but with a little imagination you could partially recreate this historic occasion by downloading The Lost World to your iPhone (HK$8 at www.biafilms.com or the App Store) and watching it next time you fly. BIA Films has dozens of other public-domain films that, small iPhone screen and Angry Birds addiction permitting, might help you to while away the hours on a flight on which no inflight movies are provided, or at airports when flights are delayed. Some of the more interesting offerings include a rare silent film version of the Marcus Clarke novel For the Term of His Natural Life, director Fritz Lang's Scarlet Street and his 1931 classic M, as well as several early Alfred Hitchcock films.

 

Running late Registration for the April 7 Paris Marathon closed earlier this month but, if you missed the cut-off, Cathay Pacific still has a number of slots available for runners purchasing a Paris Marathon 2013 Special package. Prices, not including tax and fuel surcharges, start from HK$10,480, including three nights' accommodation and the race registration fee, while for non-running partners (a minimum of two passengers is required) the prices start lower, at HK$8,710. Two flight options depart Hong Kong just after midnight on April 5, arriving in Paris (above) around sunrise and so allowing two full days for event preparation and jetlag recovery. For further details and bookings see the Paris section at www.cxholidays.com.

 

Northern exposure Recently described in a media quote by its general manager as "the only upscale beachfront hotel in northern China", the Hyatt Regency Qingdao (right) is now open for business. And while the people across the Shandong Peninsula at the Sheraton Yantai Golden Beach Resort might question that claim, this new property is certainly in an unusual location - although several beachfront hotels existed here in the pre-war years, when Shandong was well known for its health resorts. The 439-room hotel has all the usual five-star facilities, although fine dining is restricted to regional cuisine (there's an all-day "interactive, market-style café" - a buffet venue, in other words - for Western food), suggesting the hotel is aimed more at the domestic market than at international tourists. For opening rates and reservations, visit qingdao.regency.hyatt.com.

 

Short but sweet Long luxury cruises can be a tricky proposition for the cash-rich but time-poor Hongkonger - for whom the idea of a 14-day holiday is about as realistic as a trip to the moon. So a new series of short, luxury northern European and Mediterranean cruises (above) from Silversea could be of interest. Trips now start from just four days, departing from ports such as Hamburg, Barcelona and Rome, with five-day cruises leaving from Lisbon and Monte Carlo. Full-board fares start from US$1,360 for a four-day cruise from March 16 to 21, sailing from Barcelona to Rome and putting in at Monte Carlo and Livorno (Mediterranean Voyage 2307C). Other four-day fares start from US$1,830 for a trip from Hamburg to Copenhagen via Warnemunde and Helsingborg (Northern Europe Voyage 1318B), and US$1,590 will get you from Rome to Monte Carlo by way of Bonifacio, Calvi and Livorno (Mediterranean Voyage 2314A). Visit www.silversea.com where you can enter these voyage numbers into the search box for full details.

 

Deal of the week There's a cheap package deal to Penang, Malaysia, on sale at Farrington American Express Travel, starting from only HK$1,690 per person, twin share, including economy-class flights with Cathay Pacific, and two nights' accommodation at the Copthorne Orchid Hotel, just outside Georgetown at Tanjung Bungah - which is fine if you're on a tight budget. Also quite good value is the G Hotel on Gurney Drive, which is available for a package price starting at HK$2,220. Top of the list, though, are the two neighbouring Shangri-La resorts - Golden Sands and Rasa Sayang (above) - for HK$2,270 and HK$3,140, respectively, and the Hard Rock Hotel, for HK$2,280. It should be noted that, as is the norm with Hong Kong travel industry pricing, these rates do not include tax and fuel surcharges, which for this deal will amount to about HK$1,000. Daily breakfast and travel insurance are included, but airport transfers are not. For more information and reservations, go to www.amextravel.com.hk or call 3121 3121.

 

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