Easy riders In the works since 2014, and due for delivery early next year, the Modobag ride-on suitcase (modobag.com) has already raised its target investment several times over at crowd-funding website Indiegogo. With a maximum speed of almost 13km/h and a range of about 10km on one battery charge, it’s designed to carry its owner around the airport with ease.
There are, however, a couple of drawbacks to this motorised carry-on case. First, it weighs 8.6kg when empty, which is close to, or more than, most airlines’ economy-class allowance for carry-on luggage. Second, it looks like something one can imagine French comedian Jacques Tati driving around Paris Orly Airport in the 1960s.
Easier on the eye is the Movpak, which has also far exceeded its initial funding target at Indiegogo and should be on the market by the end of this year. Much more stylish, this remote-controlled folding skateboard/backpack combo can travel twice as fast, over almost twice the distance, as its competitor. It also weighs about 1kg less and has a slightly larger packing capacity (up to 35 litres).
While the Movpak is aimed more at commuters than travellers, both bags claim to be airline-friendly and will offer similar tech features, such as phone and tablet charging. Early-bird deals are available for both, but I wouldn’t put my money in either at this point, as there are no refunds if they never actually go into production after their fundraising campaigns have ended. (Movpak tried and failed on Kickstarter a couple of years ago.)
Full retail prices will be about US$1,495 for the Modobag and US$1,200 for the Movpak.
New route Hong Kong Airlines has opened up a few air links with second-tier Japanese cities over the past year or so. The carrier began scheduled flights to Miyazaki in April 2015, to Kumamoto in December (sadly suspended following the Kumamoto earthquakes in April 2016) and to Okayama in March this year. In September the airline will launch a twice-weekly service to Yonago, on the northern coast of western Honshu.
Located on the shore of Nakaumi lake, perhaps the most interesting thing about this small city, at least from the foreign traveller’s point of view, is its proximity to the beautiful and remote Oki Islands. A couple of hours by ferry from nearby Sakaiminato port, the archipelago’s four inhabited islands are little known abroad but feature some of the most striking scenery in Japan. A good introduction, with separate links to each island, can be found at wikitravel.org/en/Oki_Islands.
Hong Kong Airlines will operate midday departures from Hong Kong, and late afternoon return flights, every Wednesday and Saturday from September 14.
Brand revival The Hyatt Regency brand has returned to Xian, five years after the original Hyatt Regency Xian was taken over by Hong Kong CTS and rebranded the Grand Metropark Hotel. (Its website, apparently created with Windows 95, can be found somewhere in the bowels of www.metroparkhotels.com). The new 298-room Hyatt Regency Xian is altogether more impressive, with an attractive low-rise design and traditional Chinese interiors creating what looks like some sort of Tang-dynasty country club. For more details, go to xian.regency.hyatt.com.
Deal of the week Round-trip business-class flights with Dragonair and two nights’ accommodation are offered from HK$5,550 with Charlotte Travel’s Penang Business Class Luxury Package. At this price you’ll be staying at either the Hard Rock Hotel in Batu Ferringhi, on the Malaysian island’s north coast, or Shangri-La’s nearby Golden Sands Resort.
In the capital, George Town, you can choose from the G Hotel Gurney from HK$5,590 or the historic Eastern & Oriental from HK$5,950. Most expensive is a Deluxe Room in the Rasa Wing at Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, which comes with executive lounge benefits, such as afternoon tea and evening cocktails and snacks, from HK$7,690.
These prices will be available until the end of October. Scroll right down to the International Packages link at the bottom of the page at www.charlottetravel.com.hk for full details and reservations.