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Travellers' checks

Adam Nebbs

 

Suite spot Scheduled for a soft opening this week, the upmarket Bagan Lodge (bagan-lodge.com) - sited near the legendary temples and pagodas of the ancient city of Bagan itself - promises to "evoke the romance of a storied expedition, albeit in posh, air-conditioned comfort". Drawing heavily, as might be expected, on Myanmar's days as part of the British Empire, the hotel offers a Queen Victoria Suite, a restaurant called the Tiffin Box, and other suites named after Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kipling. Conspicuous by his absence is George Orwell, whose connections with what was then Burma were far more substantial and better documented. Orwell spent five years in the country's police force in the 1920s; his mother was born there; and his first novel, Burmese Days, is required reading for anyone visiting the country today. Maugham visited Burma, and Bagan, for a few weeks in 1922, but didn't get around to writing about his travels (in the rather contrived The Gentleman in the Parlour) until the end of that decade, in the sublime comfort of his villa at Cap Ferrat on the Cote d'Azur. Kipling, too, only visited once, although famously romanticised the name of Mandalay in his poem of the same name, which was to be rendered in song over the next century by artists as diverse as Frank Sinatra and Ian Dury. Including Orwell among Bagan Lodge's nostalgically named suites is still perhaps too risky an option, however, in a country where his books 1984 and Animal Farm are apparently still banned; but it probably won't be too long before one of a long line of upcoming luxury properties takes the plunge. It could be an interesting gauge of freedom in the new Myanmar.

 

Pilfer proofing Adam Rapp got the idea for his Pick-Pocket Proof Pants in China in 2007, after a brush with thieves in Xian, Shaanxi province. Now they are worn all over the world, foiling the light-fingered fraternity with their cunningly located zippers, buttons, pockets and flaps. Available in Adventure and Business styles, short and long, they come in a range of colours and sturdy fabrics, for men and women. Priced at about HK$800 plus postage, they're not exactly a bargain, but could be a wise investment, depending on your destination. For a closer look, and to order online, visit www.clothingarts.com.

 

Cabby apps Malaysian taxi drivers are not known for being Asia's finest. Cases of tourists being ripped off got so bad a decade ago that the country's then Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister said bent cab-bies were "traitors to our country and should be lined up against the wall and shot". Thankfully, the government never implemented his recommendation and instead piloted projects to make taking a taxi a more positive experience. In the meantime, several companies have launched taxi apps, with the best of the bunch probably the one from MyTeksi. The app can be downloaded for iPhone or Android through myteksi.com and then used to summon any participating taxi driver who is not only nearby but supposedly certified as honest, too. The company has also just launched a similar app for Metro Manila, which is in even greater need of a driver-vetting service. You can download that app at www.grabtaxi.com.

 

Deal of the week Cathay Pacific Holidays has a new Hangzhou Business Class Special on offer, with two nights' accommodation at the Holiday Inn and round-trip, business-class tickets starting from HK$3,730. Top of the price list is the Fuchun Resort, which gets many (apparently genuine) positive reviews on TripAdvisor, and costs from HK$6,610 for two nights. Suite upgrades are offered here from Sunday to Wednesday and both properties provide breakfast. For a look at the other hotels on offer and to make reservations, visit www.cxholidays.com. Note that tax and fuel surcharges will add another HK$635 to these prices, which are quoted per person, twin share.

 

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